Wednesday, July 30, 2008

They Can 'Bang' With The Best Of Them!

Talk about a signature victory. The H-town Bangers charged the field in euphoria as they watched their season do a 180 this week. They pulled off a dramatic upset of top-ranked and previously undefeated Pete’s Saloon in the Greenburgh Arc Pitch league Monday night.
The Bangers, behind a stingy defense and clutch situational hitting, were able to gut out a dizzying 18-16 thrill-ride. The win provides a much-needed emotional lift for the Hastings-based ballclub, which improved to .500 with the win.
Tim Braig, who took the hill for the first time this season, earned the victory for the Bangers.
Errors, the Achilles heal for H-town throughout the season, were kept to a minimum. The team committed just four fielding gaffes, a stat which is actually pretty impressive given their patchwork fielding group.
The final play of the game was an exclamation point on a supreme dogfight, one which featured a heap of lead changes.
With one out and a guy on first, Braig served up a 2-2 hanging curveball to Pete’s Saloon’s four-hole hitter. The hitter lined a scorching ground ball to shortstop Charles Berger. Berger, charging to his left, fielded it cleanly. He flipped it to second baseman Joe Campo. Campo pegged first baseman Dom Delvino for an inning-ending double play. This sent the Bangers dugout and fan-base into a frenzy, as H-town pasted what was easily the biggest upset of the season. Pete’s Saloon, which remains in sole possession of first place, fell to 11-1.
“(The win) was validation of what knew all season, which is that we belong in the league, we can play with any team, we can beat any team, and we’re going to contend for the championship,” said Charlie Berger, who went 3-for-5 and plated four runs.
“We’re back to .500, but the win obviously means more than that. If we play the way we played against Pete’s Saloon tonight…” Berger suddenly stalled before going into a hyperbole, but continued shortly afterward.
“Well, we were all amped up before the game, telling ourselves ‘we can beat these guys.’ The adrenaline was flowing and we had it in us tonight. Right now what we want to do is string a couple victories together, our goal is to lock up the third place spot and then we play the sixth seed in the first round.”
A tight 5-4 game early, Pete’s Saloon reeled off a seven-run fourth inning. Pete’s starting hurler T.J. Quinn, regarded as the best pitcher in the league, didn’t have his best stuff.
But thanks to the seven-run bulge heading into the fifth frame, it seemed he didn’t need to be as sharp.
Last time the two teams met, during the second week of the season, Quinn made Hastings look like the Dead Bats Society. Saloon clobbered H-town to the tune of 18-5.
Not this time around.
The Bangers came roaring back from a 12-4 deficit in the top of the fifth and sixth frames. Wedged in between them was a 1-2-3 inning tossed by Braig. The Hastings native induced a pair of weak fly balls and a liner to the third baseman for final out of the fifth.
The Bangers scored four runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by outfielder Brian Martin’s two-run jack. In the sixth inning, a hitting ambush that included key RBI singles from Neal Rosengren (3-for-5, HR), Jay Goldberg (4-for-5, 4 RBI), and Noah Berger (3-for-5) staked the Bangers to a 14-12 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Pete’s Saloon duplicated the small-ball rally that Hastings put together in the sixth. Trailing by two runs with the tying run at the plate, Berger turned in an eye-popping double play to seal the deal.
To Berger, his older brother’s words resonated.
“That was by far our best defensive performance of the year,” he said.
“We pretty much were able to string together hits at the most crucial times. The end of the game was probably the most exciting part of any game this year. We ended the game on probably the prettiest play of the year.”