Pretenders Win Tight 3-game Series to Reach NBL Finals
Rud and Rommen, Aug 30-31st 2014
Without several of their top players, P1 persevered to take two of three matchups against a tough Rangers squad on the last weekend of August. Testing both teams’ limits for pitching depth, the series amounted to a war of wills and attrition. The winner would advance to the NBL Championship on September 20-21.
Game 1: Glenn shows off arm and bat, Luis gets win in relief
Not only did SP Glenn log two singles and a double and score twice, he also pitched 5.1 strong innings, allowing just 4 hits and 2 runs.
The Ranger’s Alejandro pitched well but tired in the top of the sixth, when he gave up hits to Glenn, Luis and Darren. When borrowed catcher Sean, who had blasted a triple in the 5th and scored the Pretenders’ first run, also drew a walk, Amparo took the mound and preserved the tie with a strikeout.
Glenn hit location-control trouble in the bottom of the sixth, and Luis entered in relief to attempt to prolong the 2-2 tie with the bases loaded and just one out. The prodigal son then proceeded to induce a pop-out by dangerous, borrowed hitter Robertas and then strike out Efrain to escape the jam.
In the 7th, Pretender batters staged a one-out rally that would change the game. OK earned a walk and Glenn and Matt each singled. OK then scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball with Luis at bat. With two strikes, clutch cleanup hitter Luis nailed a fastball into left-center to plate two runs and extend the P-lead to 5-2. Next, Pierre doubled to score Luis, then reached third on another passed ball. Darren’s hard groundout pulled the shortstop enough off balance to score Pierre for the 7-2 lead.
Luis then sealed the deal in the 7th with two quick outs followed by a double and walk, then finally a harmless comebacker to clinch the all-important first-game victory.
Reyes thwarts P-bats in Game 2
SP Darren lasted 4 innings, giving up two runs and yielding the mound to the cool and steady Luis. Rangers’ SP Reynaldo pitched exceptionally well and never allowed the P-bats to string together two hits until the 6th inning, at which point the Pretenders were trailing by 4-1. With two outs Darren lined a double to right field and Anders knocked him in with a single to center. Amparo then made his second relief appearance and promptly walked Martinius but got the K of Mathias to end the inning at 4-2.
The Pretenders began another rally in the 7th with OK’s leadoff single, but after two quick outs the situation was dire. Undaunted, Luis then singled, Pierre was hit painfully in the knee and came out of the game, and Darren drew a walk to score Matt and keep the bases loaded for Anders, who already had 3 singles in the game (the only Pretender with multiple hits). But Amparo was able to deliver three final overpowering strikes to strand the tying run on third base and even the series at one game each.
Sunday, Game 3: Pretenders’ 7th-inning rally wins the series
Both teams unwisely attempted to start their Saturday aces with no rest – and neither of those pitchers lasted long. The Rangers scored 3 runs in the top of the first, and Glenn moved to SS in the second after his elbow screamed for some rest. Fortunately, Pretender hitters pounded out 7 runs in the bottom half of the inning off Reynaldo, jump-started by OK’s leadoff double. Luis, Matt and borrowed CF Alejandro Perez each hit an RBI single, and Martinius’ 2-out, 2-RBI single was key. OK then tallied his second hit of the inning to drive in the 7th run.
After Luis took the mound to start the second, the Rangers tied the score at 7 off shaky defense, and the contest looked to become a high-scoring affair unlike the previous two games. After Rey started the second with a HBP and two walks, the Rangers were forced to bring in hard-throwing closer Amparo, who had already closed out both games on Saturday. 1B Matt’s aggressive lead from 3rd base drew an errant throw from the catcher and Matt raced home with the go-ahead run. Later, OK drew a bases-loaded walk to score 3B Darren, followed by CF Alejandro’s scoring on a wild pitch to widen the lead to 10-7.
After two full innings with neither team scoring, the Rangers knotted the score at 10-10 in the fifth after more defensive miscues by the Pretenders. But the bottom of the sixth would prove to be the turning point, as OK led off with a single, Glenn was struck by a pitch, and Luis reached on the shortstop’s error, scoring a limping OK who willed himself to the plate for the go-ahead run, in agony after pulling his hamstring on the play. Next, Matt’s third hit of the game drove in two crucial runs, giving the Pretenders a 13-10 lead. Matt would then score as Darren reached with an infield single and collided with 1B Freddy so that the second baseman’s throw went to the fence. Darren would later score on a passed ball for a 15-10 lead that would not be relinquished.
The Rangers had ideas of a comeback in the sixth, but 2B Mathias dashed their hopes with a sprinting, over-the-head grab of a blooped hit to shallow right-center. The stunning catch quieted the Ranger noisemakers and energized the Pretender defense to close out the match without allowing another run.
Game 3 highlights:
Talk about a leadoff hitter: LF Ole Kristian went 3 for 3 with a double, a walk and two runs... Cleanup hitter 1B Matt regained his stroke, going 3 for 3 with a double, HBP, 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored. Matt also kept the Pretenders fired up throughout the contest with his feisty, vociferous, never-say-die mentality... 2B Mathias made the defensive play of the year with an unbelievably clutch, over-the-head sprinting catch of a bloop-hit to right-center field for the first out of the 6th inning to deflate Ranger hopes of a comeback rally… Anders was steady behind the plate, allowing just one ball past him, and threw out a would-be base thief in the sixth as Mathias made a nifty simultaneous catch-tag… Luis pitched steadily in all three games of the series, earning both wins.