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    Game 10: Don’t Bank on it
    After falling quickly to a 12-1 deficit, the Avengers defense regrouped to avoid the mercy rule, falling honorably to Berkshire Bank 15-6.
    July 8, 2004

    Mr. T. and Palma look out from the dug-out.  (Wolan)

    The Avengers got game 10 off on a bad note, quickly falling 12-1. It almost appeared that the Avengers would lose by way of the “mercy rule”. After a pitching change, the defense regrouped and limited Berkshire Bank to 3 runs over 5 innings. However, the GD-A scoring machine just wasn’t productive, unable to capitalize on the rejuvenated defense. Regardless, the Avengers avoid the “mercy rule” to lose respectability 15-6.

    The New Guys

    New to tonight’s line-up were Magda and Derek Johnson. Derek, an experienced softball player, has played competitive ball at the Softball Complex in the past. He is skilled in various positions on the field and has a cannon for an arm. Wolan hopes to put his arm to use in the outfield to help cut-down on extra base hits. Magda has never played softball but is willing to give the game a try. Wolan hopes to coach her abilities during the bye-week.

    The Line-up Shuffle

    In preparation of “hell week”, Wolan allowed the team’s rookie players to soak-in some playtime while shuffling around some of the team’s other players around the field. These moves were made so Wolan could get a better feel of the abilities of various team members who haven’t had much play time. It was also done to see if some players could play alternative positions on the field.

    As part of the shuffle, Derek and Mr. T were placed in the outfield. Mr. T, who had a horrible outing his last time in the outfield, is looking to redeem himself in this outing. Special K, an outfielder, got the start at second in hopes of using her at that position when both Anahid and Jennifer are unavailable. Magda got the start behind home plate as the team’s catcher.

    Unavailable to play at game time was Linda P. Both Special K and Mr. T. entered after the first inning due to unrelated issues.

    Game Summary

    On the mound for the Avengers was their pitching ace, Rick Palma. The Bank struck first in the first inning, scoring one run on four hits. The damage could have been worse, but the Avengers were able to pick-off a running trying to score from third after the ball was tossed back into the infield. The Avengers responded to the Bank with a run of their own thanks to an RBI single by Molloy.

    In the second, things started to fall apart for the Avenger defense, as the team surrendered 6 runs to the Bank’s coffers. Some outfield miscommunication allowed the Bank to cash-in extra base hits while a blinding sun overlooking first base caused the GD-A infield to make some bad plays, which included an over throw by Jason to first. The team eventually got its act together to end the inning.

    The inning was marked by two big events. The first was a challenge of the “intentional walk” rule. The Avengers were able to convince the ump and the other team that a male player who is “intentionally” walked should only be awarded second if the succeeding female batter elects to take the walk. The other event was when Molloy challenged a hit that landed a ball into a puddle. Molloy said the batter should be awarded with a ground rule double, the umpire yelled at Molloy and told him to get back on the field and play.

    Following the rough second inning, the Avengers went down in order in the second only to face more of the same bleeding the third. Berkshire Bank was reading Rick Palma’s pitching rhythm like a sheet of music and was dancing to his beat by turning the inning into session of batting practice. To make matters worse, Palma was pitching at a rapid pace, which worked against GD-A by giving the defense little time to prepare between plays.

    After giving up 5 runs on 5 hits with no outs in the third, Wolan faced the prospect that the team may go down by the mercy rule once again. Unwilling to go down for the count, Wolan felt it was time for a change in melody. In hopes of breaking the Bank’s rhythm, Wolan relived Palma in the third. His game plan was to slow the pace of the game down while making the Berkshire Bank chase after some difficult pitches. It was a bold move, but it was a move that netted a high return.

    Despite giving up a single, the Avengers defense scored a 5-3 double play. This play rejuvenated the GD-A hopes as the Avenger ended the third with a 1-3 force out at first. Despite giving-up 5 runs, the Avengers were able to regroup and stop the bleeding, surrendering no more additional runs upon Wolan arrival.

    In the bottom of the third inning, the Avengers scoring machine came alive, as the team deposited 4 run to cut the Bank’s lead 12-5. The inning was highlighted by a 2 RBI double by Molloy and an RBI single by Velez.

    In the fourth, Wolan retained his control, despite giving up a lead-off homerun. The Bank deposited two more runs on a fly ball to mid center-left field, but some good fielding by Wolan near the mound helped the Avengers quickly end the inning.

    Harrison at the plate, right before "The Harrison Tragedy".  (Wolan)
    The Harrison Tragedy

    Dean Harrison led the bottom of the fourth inning with a solid hit into right field. The hit should have easily netted Harrison a leadoff double until “tragedy” struck. While rounding first, “The Dean” tripped and fell between first and second base. With plenty of time, Harrison made a second attempt to reach second base, but fell a second time, this time flipping over backwards. With the ball now at second, Harrison made a ditch effort to retreat back to first, but it was in vein, as he was tagged out.

    The other batters did not fair any better, as the Avenger ended the inning without any runs. Wolan made a pathetic hit, landing the ball near home plate as he was forced out at first to end the inning.

    Posttraumatic Gameplay

    Though Wolan was weak at the plate, he was red hot on the mound, making easy work of the Bank’s batters in the fifth. The inning was highlighted by the strikeout of Berkshire Bank Slugger Tim as A-WOL got him to chase after three consecutive pitches of “The A-Bomb”.

    Wolan, pitching. Wolan pitched 5 innings of relief, giving up 3 runs.  (Wolan)

    In the sixth, A-WOL got some help in the infield as Jennifer and Velez took over at second and first base, respectively. Velez made a terrific barehanded catch to get a 4-3 force out at first and snagged a toss made wide to the right for the 1-3 force out. Wolan commented that “With the sun in the my eyes, I could not see who was covering first. I took a guess and threw the ball where I thought the first baseman was standing. I guessed right.”

    Wolan got the Bank to withdraw quickly in the seventh, making them fall in order to end in the inning. A-WOL made a terrific dash towards the Avenger dugout to catch an infield fly ball in foul territory, nearly avoiding a collision with the base runner in the process. Wolan had pitched 5 innings of relief work giving up 3 runs.

    Though the Avenger defense kept the team in the game by limiting the Bank to 3 runs over the last 4 innings, the GD-A scoring machine was, for all practicality, offline. The Avengers were scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings, but somehow managed to scratch a run together in the seventh on a fielder-choice by Palma. Regardless, the Avengers were quick work for the Bank as Berkshire Bank outscored GD-A 15-6.

    Despite a shaky start, the Avenger’s defense was able to regroup itself to avoid the embarrassing “mercy rule” and forced the Bank to play seven innings and give GD-A a respectable 15-6 lose.

    After game comments

    Becky commented that Wolan “acted normal for a change”, adding that A-WOL “did not run into any fences or walls for a change.” Wolan had no comment.

    Game Photos & Audio Clips | Fielding and Batting Line-Ups | GD-A Player Stats from Game 10 | Corbett Report for Game 10

    Andy Wolan is a reporter for MLSB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Softball or its clubs.