BRIDGEPORT — It was a classic tilt—until the seventh-inning stretch.
The Bridgeport Hit Men strung eight runs together in their final two frames to crush the visiting Douglas South Siders, in the first game of Miñoso League Baseball after nearly two years away.
Darren Black threw a complete game with 11 Ks — 10 through the first six innings, while Year of the Hamster crushed Jacki Krestel in her MLB debut, going 3-for-4 and finishing a single short of the cycle.
Interestingly, the game was not just tight, but chippy. The second batter of the game, Kim Contreras, stepped to the plate and had some words with Black on the mound. From the press box, it sounded like some debate on the merits of Chicago White Sox farmhand Seby Zavala. Later, Krestel barked Bridgeport catcher Tyrone Palmer up the line after walkinghim. Finally, in the seventh, Palmer and batter Bill Meincke bellied up to one another, one at-bat after Palmer felt Meincke admired a home run with a bit too much lingering in the batter's box.
Black whiffed three of the first four Douglas batters and struck out the side in the fourth. By the time his strikeout pitches weren't as snappy, the Hit Men offense had taken over the game.
Krestel started sharp, as well, with no hits through three. She also proved determined to the point of annoying, with consistent pickoff throws to first base. Early in the game, Bridgeport's Hannah LaMotta was clearly irritated with multiple throws to first, leading the first sacker finally to just blurt out, "I'm NOT GOING!" In the sixth, however, Krestel's craftiness paid off, as she picked off Ashley Sanders at first base.
Bridgeport never trailed in the game, breaking out to a 1-0 lead in the fourth, when Dick Reillo clubbed a deep solo shot to center, followed by a Hamster triple/Sanders sac fly to make it a 2-0 game.
Douglas knotted up the game in the next half-inning, as Meincke homered to half the lead, and with two outs Leigh Allen lifted a towering, wind-aided, solo shot to center.
In the bottom of the sixth, Bridgeport took the lead for good, as Reillo led off with a single, Hamster doubling him to third. LaMotta cracked a sac fly to push the Hit Men back up, 3-2, and Sanders provided the eventual GWRBI with a crack single over Rachael Millanta's head for a 4-2 lead.
As Bridgeport was bringing out its bats, it temporarily forgot its leather. Laura Wolff generated a run with her wheels in the seventh, getting on courtesy of a LaMotta error at first, stealing second, and coming around to score on what should have been a third-out, lazy fly to right. On the play, LaMotta and Reillo both called for the flare, then stopped short in fear of a collision. The ball dropped, and the South Siders got as close as they would the rest of the way, at 4-3.
The big frame for Bridgeport, the seventh, was punctuated by a make-good grand slam from LaMotta, after two walks and a single off of Krestel. The Hit Men got a final bit of insurance in their eight, with a Hamster three-run blast to right.
While Black didn't have his put-away pitches late, both of the South Siders' final two frames went down with a whimper, 1-2-3. In the ninth, the final two outs securing the win game on daring catches from Sanders in center field.
SSS Player of the Game: Year of the Hamster, Bridgeport Hit Men
Place: Darren Black, Bridgeport Hit Men
Show: Leigh Allan, Douglas South Siders
Note: Can't figure out how to get a good box score image in Fanposts yet, so you'll just have to rely on the writeup.
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