May 8, 2008

ML Game 32


Haganís Funeral Homes  4

Carman Insurance  3


Haganís Karma K.O.s Carman


His pre-game speech was all about attitude, or, in the parlance of noted 60ís flower child and Hagan manager, Joe Cavalcante, karma.  Whatever you want to call it, Haganís team rode it, along with healthy doses of more traditional baseball skills like outstanding pitching by Russell Rhoads and team defense, to a thrilling 4-3 victory over first-place Carman. 


Despite ending up on the short end of this one, Carman left little doubt as to why they are in first place.  Starting pitcher Caedon Saltis was brilliant.  He went 4-2/3 innings, giving up just one hit and striking out 11, while walking only 3 Hagan batters.  In addition, six different Carman batters hit safely.  They had pitching, hitting, and solid defense, but tonight the karma favored Hagan.


Carman struck quickly in the top of the first inning.  Kevin Mohollen led off with a walk followed by a Saltis single.  With those runners on 2nd and 3rd, Alex McLaughlin hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop Connor Martin.  He calmly scooped the ball and threw a strike to catcher Cal Samson who applied the tag to cut down Mohollen.  Alex Kron then laced an RBI single to right, scoring Saltis and staking Carman to a 1-run lead.  The next batter, Nick Ladd, ripped a hard line drive that looked like it would go for extra bases down the first base line.  However, the ball struck the first base bag and was deflected toward alert second baseman Brian Gross who scooped it up and sprinted to first base to get the inning-ending out and prevent further damage.  Karma.


Hagan bounced right back in the bottom of the first.  Lead-off hitter Gross reached first base on the only error of the game by either team.  He was followed by Michael Solomon who smoked an 0-2 pitch for a line-drive two run home run over the left centerfield fence.  It was the first home run of his stellar first season in the Major League.


Carman added two more runs in the top of the second inning on a walk and hits by Daniel Furman and Mohollen.  Gross made the defensive play of the game when he snared a shin high rocket off the bat of Saltis to help cut the rally short.  (He would have had an easy double play if the force of the ball had not knocked him down and into the outfield.) 


Both starting pitchers dominated the middle innings with neither team able to advance a runner beyond first base.  Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Solomon and Martin both drew two-out walks for Hagan.  Jack Norton, working on a full count, then roped a hard line drive up the middle that rolled all the way to the fence for a stand-up double.  With plenty of speed on the bases and both runners moving on the pitch, both scored easily. 


With Hagan now protecting a 4-3 lead going into the top of the sixth, they put the game in the hands of their reliable pitching staff.  Rhoads was brilliant all night long.  After the second inning, he faced just one more than the minimum number of Carman batters.  In the sixth, he retired the first two batters before reaching his pitch-count limit for the night.  Ethan Heller came on in relief to face just two batters and seal the victory for Hagan.


Although Hagan managed only 2 hits, they both went for extra bases and drove in two runs each.  Given the meager offensive production and the powerful hitters spread throughout the Carman lineup, defense was critical, and Haganís was up to the task.  Rob Brown, Bryan Leonard, Martin, Gross, Solomon, and Samson all made important contributions.


Mohollen, Saltis, McLaughlin, Kron, Steve Furman, and D. Furman all hit safely for Carman. 


Pitch counts:


    Rhoads  87

    Heller   8


    Saltis  90

    Mohollen  22