It was an overcast and misty day on Sunday, September 25th when the 10-1-1 Sand Crabs faced off against the 3-10 Orioles in the second round of the 45+ MABL of Southern WI playoffs. The Orioles were fresh off their 18-9 play-in victory over the Grays a week before, while the Sand Crabs hadn’t played in over a month due to forfeits, holidays, and crappy weather. In fact, they had played only two games since July 31st. That is 2 games in 8 weeks for those of you scoring at home. And if you are scoring at home, good for you.
The crustacean curmudgeons had bested the pumpkin colored chirpers by a score of 67-4 in their 3 prior matchups this year. But this one would be different…..waaaaaayyyyy different. The Orioles have solidified their lineup a bit, to say the least.
Randy Gaber started on the mound for the home Crabs, whilst grizzled veteran Steve Waugh threw for the visiting birds. In the first, the Orioles pecked ferociously at the eyes of the Crabs, scoring 3 on a single by Paul Orlowski that knocked in John Kuehl who had reached on an error. Then, if I remember clearly, Jeremy Johnson spoke in class today and bombed a 2 run dinger over the right field fence. The next two batters were retired. The Crabs came back for 2 in the bottom of 1 when CF Steve Hill took a free pass and went to third on an errant pick off attempt by the O’s catcher. Chris McGill then knocked in Hill and scored moments later on a single by Mike Schoonveld. 3-2 O’s
In the second, there were no hits by the Orioles, and a double by Crabs Mike Wallace, but no runs were plated. The top of the third for the orange tweeters saw two runs scored on 6 consecutive hits by Justin Disch, Aaron Meyer, John Kuehl, Orlowski, Johnson and Waugh, but the Sandies defense took advantage of an unorthodox 6-4-5 double play to minimize the damage. 5-2 birds.
The O’s got another in the 5th, and 3 more in the 7th. 9-2 Orioles. However, there was a defensive play that retrospectively seemed to spark the Crabs toward the end of the top of the 7th, when LF Barry Davis gunned down a would-be-scorer at the plate on a laser-accurate missile launch from his chiseled left arm. 9-2 Orioles. It seemed things were not looking good for those with claws, despite this defensive gem.
But, you know what? The Sand Crabs are a team that doesn’t get too down when things go bad. Sure, they may tighten their sphincters a bit now and then and walk a little funny, but who doesn’t?
In the bottom of the 7th the pot was boiling, but the Crabs said “Nay! Hold the Old Bay!” Gaber singled, Schoonveld singled, utility man Jim Pliner walked, and 3B Jake Kas doubled to score 2. 9-4 O’s. 2B Troy Galston singled, scoring Pliner. 9-5 O’s. Relief Pitcher Wallace singled to load the bases, and then Jason Himebach walked to score another. 9-6 O’s. Randy Olivares then singled to plate yet another Crab run. 9-7 Orioles. Ward “Havoc” Paxton then confidently strolled to the dish, muttering under his breath about something or other, and proceeded to stroke a single through the middle to plate Wallace. 9-8 birds. Himebach then raced home on a wild pitch to tie things up at 9. Then, with one out, Tim MacInernay launched a sacrifice fly to center, and Olivares sped home to score on Mac’s Sac.
Wallace and the Crab’s D shut down the birds’ bats with a 1-2-3 top of the 8th, bringing the Crabs to bat in their half with only 4 minutes of time remaining before the no-new inning time limit was reached. McGill singled, Gaber walked, and Schoonveld walked, and that was it. Time up.
McGill led the Crabs with 3 hits, while Gaber, Schoonveld, Galston, and Wallace had 2. Kuehl and Orlowski had 3 each for the Orioles, and Johnson had 2, or so it seems from our tattered scorebook which was stolen by a rabid raccoon in the parking lot, so apologies for any errors.
Thirsts were quenched at Slice’s, and some mud was even slid. Thanks Packers!
The Sand Crabs will battle the Crawfords for the 45+ League Championship next week. Be there! What else you got going on?