Hounds win in bizarre fielder’s choice/error walk-off

The Chicago Hounds are now 15-14 after a 7-6 bizarre win v. the Marlins at SW Park tonight. The Hounds have 4 games in 5 days to end the 2019 CMBA season and are hoping to clinch a playoff spot this weekend by sweeping games v. the Electrons (for K’s Cup) and the Orioles. With 2 wins in the final 4 the Hounds will secure the playoff spot over the Yankees and Vikings. The Hounds also play the Trojans and Vikings to end the season.

Mike DiCola (#28, P) threw a complete game win for the Hounds, following up his fine performance against the Marlins in the 2-1 loss earlier in the season. DiCola had one tough inning early in the game when the Marlins took a 4-0 lead, but for the most part he held the Marlins in check, particularly in the later innings.

The Hounds got one run back in the second when Tim Riggenbach (#8, CF) hit a towering fly ball to third base and did the right thing and ran it out–the third baseman was unable to catch the ball and Riggenbach ended up at second base. Running it out matters. Alex Mora (#16, DH) then singled Riggenbach home for the first Hound run. In the third inning Matthew Steffens (#5, SS) led off with a single and then Justin Thornton (#9, 2B) replaced him at first with a fielder’s choice. Kurt Kerrigan (#12, LF) walked and then Nelson Bowers (#48, 1B/EH) singled in Thornton to make the score 4-2.

The Marlins got 2 more runs in the 4th to take a 6-2 lead, and that lead lasted into the bottom of the 6th inning. With 2 outs in the 6th, the time was 7:50 pm and by league rule an inning cannot start after 8:00 pm, so the Hounds either needed to take the lead or end the inning quickly to get another chance in the 7th. Bowers then doubled to the left-center gap, bringing up Riggenbach. Riggenbach then homered to the left-center gap, bringing the score to 6-4 but there were only 5 minutes left to start the next inning. Brent Schoenbach (#7, 3B) then took the count to 2-2 and it was not at all clear that the game could go another inning, but after a quick groundout the Hounds took the field for one more frame with a start before 8:00 pm.
DiCola then made swift work of the Marlins in the top of the 7th, for his second 1-2-3 inning in a row. The Hounds were now down to their last at-bat, with a 6-4 deficit–needing 2 runs to tie (for 1 league point), and 3 runs to win (for 2 points).
TJ Rinaldi (#1, RF) led off and hit a “too high” fly ball to center that (1) looked like it could be a home run, but it was too high, (2) then looked like a sure out, but (3) then Andrew LaLuz dropped it for an error, and Rinaldi reached second safely. Tony Correa (#13, C) then walked to put the tying run at second and the winning run at the plate. After two quick Hound outs, Steffens was left to yet again try and avoid being the last out of the game. LaLuz was now pitching and Steffens swung and missed twice because it was getting dark and the ball was dirty. Steffens asked for a new ball to be put into play and the Joe Mantegna voiced umpire allowed a brand new ball to be entered into play with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the final inning. It proved costly for the Marlins, as the 48-year old Steffens was able to see the white ball and put it into play for an infield single, loading the bases.

Thornton then hit a ball to third base that the third baseman only had one play on–to step on the bag at third to force Correa out to end the game. But inexplicably the Marlins 3 bagger tried to tag Correa. Mantegna made a signal that Steffens assumed meant Correa was out, which seemed like the wrong call. BUT HE CALLED HIM SAFE! Steffens went to argue the call (as manager, thinking the game was over), but this meant he drifted too far from second base, channeling his inner Joe Johnston. The Marlins player threw the ball to second to try to get an out, but threw wildly into the outfield, and Correa scored from third, and Steffens scored from second to win the game (only because LaLuz was no longer in center with his strong arm, otherwise he would have stopped at third). Simply never seen it before.
BUT WAIT, there is more. The Marlins were arguing the play the whole time, not just because they thought they got Correa out at third, but because Thornton may have hit the ball off of his foot–which should be a foul ball, dead ball, no play, everyone stay where they are. So a play that (1) might have been a foul ball, (2) might have been an out at third, and (3) might have been an out at second, turned into a THREE RUN FIELDER’S CHOICE AND THROWING ERROR!

Bizarre. But good for the Hounds! We play the Electrons at 9:30 am at Winnemac on Saturday for K’s Cup. We play the Orioles on Sunday at Walther at 12:30 pm after the revised start time. We win both, we are in the playoffs. See you there!