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It looked like another one of those Pitch Slap games: off to a strong start, then fade to another notch in the lost column.
This time Pitch was matched up with Reds, who might not have a great win/loss record, but come with a dugout full of strong athletes and power hitters. Pitch took the early advantage, then the Reds powered back to a 5-14 lead going into the open sixth inning. Pitch had one last shot at pulling off a come-from-behind; all they needed was 10 runs and theyâ€™d go 5-5 in league action. Yeah, like all anybody needs is one winning lottery ticket.
They got the 10 and an extra seven, just in case. Pitch players hit everything that got thrown at them, running through the line-up nearly three times before the third out. Guys were slamming the ball to the fence, dropping fly balls into the nether world between fielders, slicing unstoppable grounders through the Redsâ€™ defense like a hot knife through butter.
A stunned Reds pulled off an impressive 6 runs in the bottom of the sixth, but it was Pitch Slapâ€™s night to celebrate with a 22-20 victory.
The game started with a strong showing from Pitch. Darren Skare, Jon Nyland and Jake Owen singled, loading up the bases, then the next four batters all singled in runs to take a 4-0 lead with only one out. The final two outs came on a sharp double play for a forced out at second and an out at first.
The Reds followed with a series of singles from Victor Brown and Will Falck and 2 runs off singles from Cal Bapted and Augie Barlow before Pitchâ€™s outfield pulled down consecutive pop outs. With a 4-2 score, the game was shaping up to be a solid contest until the Pitch bats fell silent.
The top of the second was three-up/three-down for Pitch, then the Reds were back at the plate. Jon Williams doubled and Ray Reyes doubled him home. Darren Spoonhunter hit a sacrifice fly that brought Reyes home and the score was tied 4-all.
Pitch made contact, got guys on base but not across home plate in the top of the third, then gave up the lead in the bottom of the inning. Bapted tripled and Alex Barlow brought him home with a solid triple. Chris Summers singled in a run handing his team a 4-6 lead.
With two outs, Pitchâ€™s defense started bleeding runs. Horacio Rodriguez doubled; Reyes singled in 2 runs, Brown singled and Spoonhunter sent the ball to the fence to cap off the 5-run limit. The Redsâ€™ lead had exploded to 4-9.
Pitchâ€™s offense continued its slump, again putting runners in position but leaving them stranded. The Reds kept up the onslaught in the bottom of the fourth with another 5-run limit.
Falck sent a ground ball skittering through the infield; Bapted followed with a single and Augie Barlow started the run-fest with a single. A sacrifice fly brought in another run. Summers hit a 2-RBI in-the-park homer and Brown brought in the fifth run of the inning to hand the Redsâ€™ a substantial 4-14 lead.
Josh Fahey opened the top of the fifth for Pitch with a double on speed, then crossed home plate on a Greg Bryant single. Brian Young got to first, but the Redsâ€™ defense wasnâ€™t going to let the win get away and clinched the final out. Pitch had barely made a dent in the lead at 5-14.
The Reds went three-up/three down; then came the top of that momentous sixth inning and what looked like a merry-go-round of Pitch runs.
Pitch went through its line-up nearly three times; they couldnâ€™t miss. Owen started the action with a double; Matt Beavers hit a 2-RBI in-the-park homer to cut the lead in half at 7-14. Next up, Fahey and another homer. Bryant doubled, Steve Martinez walked and Young doubled in a run to narrow the Redsâ€™ lead to 5 at 9-14.
Skare doubled in 2 runs; Nyland doubled in two more. There were no outs and the lead was down to 2 at 12-14. With the first out logged, Beavers and Fahey both landed their second homers of the inning. Pitch had the lead, a narrow one but a lead none the less at 15-14.
With the second out on the books and the realization that a 1-point lead wasnâ€™t going to hold a win against the Reds, Pitch got its second wind. Martinez singled, Young doubled and Skare doubled in 2 runs. Nyland slammed a 2-RBI homer to deliver a 5-point lead at 19-14. In an inning that was looking more and more like a homerun derby, Owen sent the ball to the fence and rounded the bases. Beavers singled, Fahey doubled and Bryant and Martinez each brought in a run off singles. The final out was a fielderâ€™s choice at second, but Pitch was probably getting dizzy anyway.
The score was 22-14, a nice 7-run cushion going into the final at bat for the Reds.
Augie and Alex Barlow both singled, then both scored off a single from Summers and Williams. Rodriguez was tagged out at first but brought in a run to narrow the lead to 5 at 22-17. Seeing their lead start to wane, Pitchâ€™s defense went into high gear with third baseman Bryant snagging a line drive for out number two.
The Redsâ€™ kept on the attack. Brown singled in a run then came home on a big triple off the bat of Spoonhunter. Faulk brought in the final run before the Redsâ€™ popped out.
Pitch is now 5-5 in league, in the middle of the eight-team division. The Reds fall to 3-7.
The championship drive starts this Wednesday at 6 p.m.