Hounds Opening Day

The Chicago Hounds were bested late by the Browns 9-8 today at Winnemac Park on a walk-off-bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was an exciting and grand finish, unfortunately it went for the Browns, not the Hounds.

Winnemac Park looked gorgeous today as Bobby the groundskeeper got the field into the best shape we have seen it in years. There was little wind, a few clouds, and the temperature was perfect. The Hounds had quite a few fans at the game: Meghan, Laura, Anne, Mel, Nicole (and her brand new baby!), Amanda, friends of Casey I didn’t meet, and some others I apologize for forgetting.

The Hounds took an early lead as rookie Brian Lehman (#2, CF) started things off with a walk. 2018 Hounds MVP Tony Correa (#13, C) then singled sharply, picking up right where he left off last season. Lehman and courtesy runner Phil Zelenka (#24) (also a rookie) then executed a perfect double steal. Hounds rookie (and former Winnemac Cub) Joe Johnston (#20, 3B/2B) then singled in both Lehman and Zelenka for 2 RsBI, and the Hounds took a 2-0 lead.

Rookie Casey Peterson (#30, P) started on the mound and pitched 4 strong innings for the Hounds, giving up only 1 earned and 1 unearned run. Peterson gave up 7 hits in 4 frames, but walked no one in a very strong opening day start. Mike DiCola (#27, DH/P) then threw a solid 2.1 innings, also walking no one. Unfortunately the Hounds defense was a bit suspect with DiCola on the mound, giving up three key errors during his tenure.

After the Browns tied the game in the 4th, the Hounds top of the order struck again in the 6th, taking a 4-2 lead. Lehman and Correa both walked, and then after 2 Hound K’s, DiCola walked as well, loading the bases. Matt Burch (#6, 1B) then hit what appeared to be a bases clearing shot to deep center, but Burch was called out at third base and the umpire ruled that the runner from first had failed to cross the plate before the third out. So, what seemed like three runs and a runner at 2nd (or 3rd), quickly turned into only 2 runs (Lehman and Correa) and inning over. The Browns then tied it up in the 6th, with the game now at 4-4.

In the final frame, the bottom of the Hounds order got into the scoring action, with rookie Nick Ingram (#36, LF) leading the inning off with a single, his second hit on the day. Alex Mora (#16, 2B) followed with a single and TJ Rinaldi (#1, RF) walked to load the bases. With the infield in, Matthew Steffens (#5, SS) hit a ball to the second baseman, who threw wildly to the plate, scoring Ingram and leaving the bases loaded. Lehman then reached for the 4th time in the game (3 walks and a single) with a 2-RBI single, scoring Mora and Rinaldi. Steffens and Lehman then performed another double steal, and after two Hound strikeouts Johnston walked to load the bases. DiCola then walked, scoring Steffens for a DiCola RBI.

So, the Hounds had an 8-4 lead going into the bottom of the final frame. After 4 singles and a crucial error leaving the score 8-6 with one out and bases loaded, the Hounds made a pitching change, but the next batter scorched a bases-clearing triple to right field and the Browns had suddenly won the game, and a seeming Hound victory turned to defeat in the blink of an eye.
Lots of good things today for the Hounds, but we do need to work on baserunning and defense (particularly squeezing the ball in our mitts). Batting was overall really good (except for 8 K’s), and usually scoring 8 runs should win the game in the CMBA. Let’s hope the Hounds continue those positives and clean up some of the miscues and go on a long early season winning streak.
Next game is Thursday May 9 at 5:50 pm at Winnemac v. the Aviators, with Tim Riggenbach (#8) on the mound. See you there!