Normally I do not call out errors. I may mention them, but don’t mention the player, as I feel it is unfair and even unkind. But tonight is different, because I have never seen a player who hit a mammoth home run bomb look so utterly despondent after a game, as rightly or wrongly, he was blaming himself for the loss.
Today at Winnemac Park, the Hounds were swept by the Aviators in the season series by a score of 5-2. The offensive hero of the day was Arron Kruse (#11, 3B) who hit a bomb to right field and was running so fast between first and second because he was the only person at the park who was unaware he had hit a home run. The ball landed on the sidewalk in right field and bounded up the stairs at Amundsen High School. Kruse’s offensive bomb represented 50% of the Hounds’ scoring on the day. The other run came from TJ Rinaldi (#1, CF/RF) singling, reaching second on a sac bunt by Nick Schmidt (#23, CF), and then scoring on an RBI single by Brian Lehman (#2, LF). The Hounds only had 4 hits on the day, the last coming from a very tired and incredibly hot (temperature hot, not spicy hot, not attractive hot) Matthew Steffens (#5, SS) who narrowly avoided being the last out of the game (a fear I have had and a status I have tried valiantly to avoid since I was 10 or 11 years old in Little League).
But despite the amazing home run on a day when the Hounds offense was almost nonexistent, Kruse was visibly upset after the game for a chain of events in the 6th inning that started on a ball hit to him at third base that looked like it might start a double play. But the ball was too slow moving from a high Winnemac hop, so Kruse’s only option was a throw to first, but his throw was slightly wide, pulling Matt Burch (#6, 1B) off of the bag, and allowing Umpire Coop to make a rare “safe” call at first base. The runner from first reached second safely and then decided to try and take advantage of the open bag at third and the wide throw to make an attempt to take third as well. Burch’s throw to third hit the runner, bounding past Justin Thornton (#9, SS) who was covering the bag as backup. The runner then inexplicably decided to attempt for home and it seemed like he was a sure out, but Thornton’s throw from his knees bounced multiple times and Tony Correa (#13, C) was unable to secure it for the tag. A seemingly potential double play ended up with no outs and a run scored. Bombs all around. The Aviators ended up scoring 2 more after the series of errors to take the 5-2 lead. The Hounds threatened in the 7th, but were unable to score.
Despite the outcome, Tim Riggenbach (#8, P) was simply masterful on the mound, with command of multiple pitches and a lot of Ks, but unfortunately he had a throwing error of his own off a bunt that led to the first Aviators run–the bunt seemed like an out and then turned into an error induced double that eventually led to the first tally. I am not sure that any of the Aviators runs were “earned” today in a technical sense. But they all scored. And they all counted.
After the game it was Daddy Pizza Day, the annual event that all Hounds fans look forward to for the entire off season, the day when Matt “Daddy” Burch buys pizza for all Hounds fans. There were a lot of fans in attendance today, including my dad, so it was questionable whether there would be enough pizza, but all seemed sated at K’s Dugout after the game.
The Hounds have really struggled to score runs lately, and have struggled even more so against the top teams in the CMBA all year, with a 1-9 record against the top 4 teams. Few blowouts, many close games, but the Hounds just cannot secure the win. The Hounds’ next 2 games are against the 2 weakest teams in the league, and the Hounds cannot let down and absolutely need to win to have any chance to make the playoffs. Ramirez Baseball tomorrow at 9:30 am at Winnemac, and then the Trojans Thursday at Maywood at 5:50 pm. See you there, but you are on your own for more pizza!
(Also, if you haven’t listened already, check out the Hounds podcast on chihounds.com (or iTunes, Google Play, Spotify), I actually say a lot of really nice things about Kruse in particular.)