The Paiute Palace Casino/Stewart’s Construction Jokers had the last laugh Tuesday night, taking Red Thunder out of the A/B Coed Division playoffs with an 11-6 win.
The two teams were sitting in the cellar of the Bishop Adult Softball League division with the strong possibility that the winner would have to face off against the undefeated M&Ms. The Jokers face a steep climb if the players hope to vie for the championship in the highly competitive division.
With 2 outs, Thunder got runners on base in the top of the first including a deep single to center field from Bob Vega. But, the Jokers’ defense logged the final out with a quick throw from third base to first, sending Thunder back to the dugout with a scoreless first.
The Jokers got down to business with 2 walks and a double from Brian Willis to bring Willie Pasquel home. Jen Pasquel sacrificed Dixie Stewart across home plate. James Davis singled in Willis for the Jokers’ third run.
What looked to be an endless scoring streak came to an end when Thunder got a forced out at second base. The final batter popped out, leaving the Jokers with a 3-0 lead.
Thunder came back strong in the second. With no outs and two runners in scoring position, the Jokers’ defense opted to snag a sure out, allowing the first Thunder run. A big double from Julian Root sent the second runner home to narrow the Jokers’ lead 3-2.
The Jokers put on a repeat performance in the bottom of the second, coming back from two quick outs at the top of the lineup. Willie Pasquel doubled, followed by a Jen Pasquel single. Willis, the Jokers’ big hitter, sent both Pasquels home on a double.
The Jokers logged two more 1-RBI singles from Dena Mason and Davis to take a 4-run lead at 6-2.
The third inning was all defense with Thunder going four-up-three-down. A double play at the bottom of the third retired two Jokers; a forced out finished the inning.
Augie Barlow doubled to start things off for Thunder in the fourth, then scored on a Sarah Vega single. Root doubled, but Thunder continued to be plagued by bad timing with the final batter stranding two runners on base.
Jokers’ speed ruled the bottom of the fourth. Jen Pasquel went to first as the designated runner, motored to third on a Davis double and then sprinted home, giving the team a 7-3 lead.
The top of the fifth saw Thunder seriously narrow the gap. Again, facing a 2-out situation, Alec Barlow sent the ball deep into left field for a double. With 2 walks, Kara Barlow advance to first and Alec Barlow scored, leaving the bases loaded. Tahern doubled to score two more runs, bringing Thunder to within a run of the Jokers at 7-6.
The Jokers had nothing in the bottom of the fifth, putting the pressure on the team’s defense to hold Thunder’s recharged offense in the sixth inning. They did, adjusting the fielders as Root came to bat.
Thunder’s big hitter smacked the ball to the Jokers’ big hitter, Willis, for out one. Sarah Vega grounded to Willis and got taken out at first. Bob Vega singled to center field, but was shelved on a forced out at second, by Willis.
With a slim lead and facing the open seventh inning, the Jokers went to work in the bottom of the sixth. Willis sent the ball flying for a 1-RBI in-the-park homer to open the line-up. Davis singled; Jen Pasquel doubled on a combination error/misunderstanding on the part of Thunder’s defense. Omar Santana singled Davis home; Mason singled Jen Pasquel home and Neil Watterson iced the cake with a 1-RBI single, putting the Jokers ahead 11-6.
Despite its 5-run deficit, Thunder had a chance to rack up the runs in the open seventh, but the Jokers could smell the win and sent Thunder packing, three-up-three-down.