Friday night, the Men's B4 Summer Softball League concluded its season with semi-final and championship rounds being played. Last Friday, the playoff eligible group of nine teams was pared down to a final four comprised of regular season league leader and No. 1 seed Club 7-11, No. 4 Rock Stop, No. 9 Boonville and No. 3 Sparetime Supply. The semi-final match ups saw Club 7-11 facing Rock Stop and Boonville playing Sparetime Supply.
Club 7-11 took care of Rock Stop, winning by a score of 16-5. Sparetime Supply advanced to the championship game with a 14-6 win over Booneville. The championship game between Club 7-11 and Sparetime Supply had all the action you could want, and some you probably wouldn't want. The game went to the finally inning with Sparetime holding a slim 16-13 lead. But Sparetime staged a 12-run rally in the top of the seventh to win by a score of 28-13, claiming the championship.
Semifinals Club 7-11 vs. Rock Stop
It was a different story in the semi-final game between Club 7-11 and Rock Stop. In this game, with Lil Hoaglin on the slab for Club 7-11, Rock Stop could never get their normally potent offense on track.
Rock Stop got on the board first, scoring a run in the first inning. Robert DeVito got a leadoff single. A throwing error put runners at first and third. A single by Curtis VanHorn drove in a run, but that was all Rock Stop would get in the inning.
Club 7-11 answered back with that and more in the bottom of the first. The first three batters reached first base on singles, Miguel Gonzalez with a leadoff single. A ball looped to right fell, but a force was made at second. Robert Taylor followed with a double to left center to drive in two runs.
After two were out, Johnny Ram singled, followed by singles by Steve Goodson and Lil Hoaglin to drive in two more runs. Phillip Idica lined a shot off the left fielder's glove to plate two more runs, giving Club 7-11 a 6-1 lead after one inning of play.
Bart Buckner, the Rock Stop pitcher, led off the second with a single up the middle. A walk put two runners on. But two fly balls to left followed. James McAllister somewhat salvaged the inning with a single to drive in two runs to close the gap to 6-3.
Club 7-11 got those two runs back in the bottom of the inning. Homer Holebrook got a one-out single. Taylor doubled to left to put runners at second and third. A fielder's choice and then a single by Ram upped the score to 8-3.
VanHorn and Theron Miller got one-out singles in the top of third, but a 6-4-3 double play retired the side with no runs scoring.
Club 7-11 kept the bats going in the bottom of the third. Idica, Race Hoaglin, and Gonzalez singled to load the bases. A one-out single by Homer Holbrook drove in two runs. Taylor singled to left to drive in another and Matt Espinoza singles in the fourth run of the inning, giving Club 7-11 a 12-3 three lead.
Rock Stop got two singles in the top of the fourth by Buckner and Andy Gitchel, but both were stranded. Club 7-11 went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
In the top of the fifth, Rock Stop got a one-out single to left by DeVito and a two-out single by VanHorn, but again, couldn't score. Race Hoaglin led off bottom of the inning with a single to center, but was later erased on a 6-4-3 double play.
It looked like Rock Stop might have a big inning in the top of the sixth when Sam Gitchel, Jason McCord and Buckner all singled to load the bases. Two sacrifice flies produced two runs, but a ground out retired the side, limiting the scoring to just the two runs. Going to the bottom of the inning, Club 7-11 still had a sizeable lead at 12-5.
Club 7-11 effectively put the game away, scoring four more runs. Holbrook, Taylor and Espinoza started the inning with singles, producing one run. Two ground outs plated another. Lil Hoaglin, Idica and Race Hoaglin followed with three more singles to score two more runs, giving Club 7-11 an 11-run lead at 16-5.
DeVito got a one-out single in the top of the seventh, but that was it for Rock Stop, with two fly balls retiring the side and ending the game.
With the win Club 7-11 advanced to the championship game vs. Sparetime Supply. Rock Stop got to play one more game, facing Boonville for third place. Rock Stop won that game 10-8.
Championship Game Club 7-11 vs. Sparetime Supply
With the No. 1 and 3 seeds matching up, the championship game looked to be quite competitive. It turned out to be just that, but maybe just a tad too competitive.
Sparetime came out swinging. Mickey Coughlin led of the first inning with a single to left. Travis Evans followed with another single. With one out, Casey Comer singled in a run. James Walters followed with a singled but the runner was thrown out at the plate. Four consecutive two-out hits produced four more runs. Stephen Summers, Corey Roades, Cecil Caldwell and Derrell Buzzard all singled before a fly ball retired the side. After a half inning of play Sparetime was up 5-0 with Club 7-11 coming to bat.
The first two batters in the bottom of the second were retired. Homer Holbrook kept the inning alive with a single. A single by Raymond Taylor put two runners on. A single by Matt Espinoza drove in one run and a hit by Johnny Ram plated another. The fourth hit in a row, this one by Steve Goodson drove in two. At the end of the inning, it was a one-run game at 5-4.
Sparetime got three of those runs back in the top of the second. Mickey Cauglin led off for the second time in the game, singling to left. With one out, Rick Yadon doubled to left, getting an RBI. Comer lined a ball off the center fielder's glove, driving in another run. Walters hit a sacrifice fly to right for the third and final run of the inning, giving Sparetime an 8-4 lead.
That lead lasted just as long as it took Club 7-11 to come to bat in the bottom of the inning. With one out, after a runner being thrown out on the bases trying to stretch a hit, the next two batters hit back-to-back singles. Holbrook drove them both in with a single. Taylor got another hit, putting two runners on. An infield hit up the first base line scored another run. Two more runs later scored with the help of a throwing error, giving Club 7-11 a 9-8 lead after two innings of play. The two teams were on a pace to score 50 plus runs, but the pace slowed and ground to a complete stop when "extra curriculars" ensued in the bottom of the next inning.
Cecil Caldwell led off the top of the third with a single for Sparetime. A two-out single by Tom Summers put runners on first and second but a popup retired the side, stranding both runners.
Lil Hoaglin led off the bottom of the third with a single over third. Race Hoaglin got a one-out single and a single by Miguel Gonzalez loaded the bases.
The next batter lined a hit to right, with two runs scoring. The third runner, attempted to score on the play. The throw to the plate was there in time. The runner, instead of sliding, barreled into the catcher who made the tag and held on to the ball, though being knocked to the ground.
Not at all pleased by the overly aggressive base running, the catcher proceeded to pounce on the runner, still on the ground at home plate, grabbing him in a hold, the two looking like wrestlers on the mat, without the mat.
In a scene somewhat reminiscent of the recent dust up between the Major League St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds, players from both teams rushed to plate, the first arrivals attempting to separate to the two players.
In this case, though there was some pushing and shoving and plenty of strong words back and forth, no punches were thrown and the umpires and the majority of players, acting as peace makers, managed to get the "combatants" separated and order mostly restored, though verbal exchanges continued for a time between some of the players
The game was stopped for several minutes while the umpires, officials and team captains tried to sort out what had happened and to determine what actions would be taken, including a possible decision to call the game.
Finally, it was agreed that the game would go forward. Two players from each team, the catcher and the base runner, plus one more player from each team were ejected from the game. Each team had enough players remaining to field a team, Sparetime with 10 players and Club 9-11 nine players. Having just the nine players, meant Club 9-11 would have to play the remainder of the game with three out-fielders instead of the normal four.
The runner had been ruled out at the plate, so there were two outs when play resumed in the bottom of the third. The inning ended with a quick fly out to right. After three innings and the interlude in play, Club 7-11 now had an 11-8 lead.
Sparetime got two quick runs in the top of the fourth. Yadon and Comer opened the inning with singles. Walters doubled them both home. But the next three batters were retired in order, leaving Club 7-11 still leading, the score now 11-10.
Club 7-11 responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Taylor led off with a single. With one out, a liner off the glove of the right fielder scored a run. Lil Hoaglin drove in another with a sac fly. After four innings of play, Club 7-11 still had a three-run lead, now 13-10.
Sparetime took its second lead of the game in the top of the fifth. Taking advantage of the three-fielder outfield, Sparetime opened the inning with four consecutive hits by Darell Buzzard, Mike Griggs, Mickey Caughlin and Travis Evans, scoring one run and loading the bases. A fielder's choice and a sac fly scored two more. A Walter's blooper down the right field line dropped to drive in the fourth and go-ahead run. After five, Sparetime now had the lead at 14-13.
Club 7-11 went down in order in the top of the fifth. Roades tripled to lead off the bottom of the inning. He scored on a Caldwell double. A Buzzard single put runners at first and third. A Griggs sac fly drove in the second run of the inning. A 4-6-3 Club 7-11 double play limited the scoring to just the two runs, Sparetime's lead increasing to 16-14.
With one out in the top of the sixth, Matt Espinoza blasted a long, towering fly ball down the left field line. The ball hooked just foul as landed well beyond the fence. Espinzoa was then retired on another foul ball. Club 7-11. The next batter reached on a single, but he was stranded.
Sparetime got more than a few insurance runs in the top of the seventh. The first five batters all reached base with hits. Evens, Comer, John Caughlin each singled. Yadon and Roades each doubled. The result was four more runs. The next batter lined out to left for the first out, but getting a sac fly with the runner scoring from third.
Then Sparetime repeated the sequence, putting together another string of five hits. Griggs, Mickey Caughlin, Evens and Comer got singles. Yadon hit a double to left center. Four more runs scored. Walters drove in another run with a Sac Fly to center.
Singles by John Caughlin and Roades drove in two more runs. On Roades single, a runner was thrown out at the plate, the third out finally being recorded with an uneventful, normal tag. The 12-run inning had ballooned the Sparetime lead to 28-13.
Lil Hoaglin led off the led off the top of the seventh with a single to left, but he was erased on 6-4-3 double play off the bat of the next batter. The final batter of the game flew out to center for the final out, with Sparetime claiming the win and the championship.
It was nice to see the players from both teams do a cordial post-game handshake, the heat of the battle having passed and the players reaffirming the spirit of friendly competition which is the hallmark recreational league sports.