The Pretenders win dramatic walk-off
Lade Idrettspark, August 22nd 2020
Going into the Battle of the North, both the Pretenders and the Royals were tied at 1st place with a 6-2 record for the season. In another word: a must-win-game for both teams as the winner would take a huge step towards the season title. But the way the game ended surprised everyone...
Game 1, Pretenders vs Royals:
The Pretenders started the game with great command as their emerging Ace – Matt Connell – had all his pitches working with a very crisp and sharp curve that put the Royals’ batters off-balanced throughout the whole game. He pitched all 7 innings giving up 4 runs (3 earned), 6 hits, 3 walks and 8 K’s.
The Pretenders took the lead 1-0 in the bottom of the 2nd inning after a hard double by Alberto Danzie who hit it over the CF’s head and then moved to 3rd on a pass ball. The next batter - the up and coming star Andreas Erga - hit a ground-out to short stop – a textbook small ball performance – to take the lead with a nice productive out. The Royals answered right away in the top of the 3rd with two hits from the bottom of their line-up to tie up the game 1-1.
The Pretenders continued their production in the bottom of the same frame as Alec Haralovich scored on a throwing error back to the pitcher and then Alex Guildford scored on Danzie’s single to left-field. With the scoere 3-1 Connell contined his great performane from the mound with his third 1-2-3 inning in four frames. He however got himself into trouble entering the top of the 5th.
With two outs and a runner on 3rd the Pretenders were almost out of it but Royals’ new star Mads Eldevik grinded out a walk to get the runners on the corners. Next batter – ex-Pretender Sigbjørn Osa – smacked a triple down the RF corner to score both runners and once again tie up the game. Now at 3-3. The Pretenders tried hard to get on top right away as they had runners on 1st and 2nd with one out in the 5th, but with a great 5,5-3 double-play the Royals got out of the jam. This shifted the momentum and the Royals continued to create chances as they scored one more run in the top of the 6th on an E8 followed by a single. With the score 3-4 the Pretenders were in real trouble and had to regroup.
More trouble came however for the Pretenders in the top of the 7th as the Royals got the bases load with no outs. With nowhere to hide the infield played in and the most decisive moment of the whole season was about to unfold. Connell collected himself and brought back the ace in him and got the next two batters to ground-out to get the outs at home. A 3-2 play followed by a 4-2 play. With two outs Connell continued in the same fashion and stroke out the next batter on four pitches to get out of a huge jam and keep the one-run game intact.
The outcome of the bottom of the 7th would decide not only the game but probably the entire season and the Pretenders always fight until the end. First batter up for the Pretenders – Darren McKellep – fought like a lion and on the 8th pitch of the at-bat he sent a liner up the middle for a single. Next batter – Ryan Goedecke – fought off four foul-balls and sent the 7th pitch of his at-bat to the right-field corner for a stand-up double. With the tying runner at 3rd and the winning runner at 2nd with no outs the stage was set for the Pretenders’ lead-off man Terje Hoaas, but on the count 1-1 the Royals Pitcher missed his target and sent a low inside fastball passed the catcher as the ball rolled all the way to the backstop - allowing McKellep to tie the game at 4-4.
On the very next pitch the ball got passed the catcher again – this time on a low curve wild-pitch that barely got passed the catcher - who did everything in his power to stop the miscued pitch. This allowed Goedecke to sprint in from 3rd to score the winning run as the entire team exploded in a wild “C19 friendly” celebration. The Pretenders had just won a historic walk-off win on two pass balls/wild pitches in a row. Final score 5-4.
Game 2, Pretenders vs Earls:
After a historic win in the 1st game, the 2nd game of the day could’ve easily been a bittersweet failure, but the Pretenders never looked back and score not more than 12 runs in the 1st inning to give Alec Haralovich a nice cushion from the mound. The entire team produced and by the end of the 6th inning the Pretenders won the game comfortably 17-4 over the team from Trondheim.
With the record 8-2 (Royals are 7-3) the Pretenders will be in the front seat for the remaining two battles of the East (#3 and #4) in the next two weekends. Nothing is decided and no one will ever take anything for granted, but the NM champions from last year are now able to decide their own destiny for the remaining part of the season. Go Pretenders!
Best of the best:
- Matt Connell: 7 IP, 8 Ks, 3 ER
- Alec Haralovich: 3-7, 4 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, pitching: 5 IP 9 Ks, 3 ER
- Andreas Erga: 3-7, 2 R, 2B, 5 RBI
- Alberto Danzie: 3-7, 5 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI