Kruse Caps Comeback with Walk-off HR

The Hounds shook off a 7-1 deficit on Saturday in Maywood for a 9-7 final score, evening up the season series at a game apiece.

Rookie Jules Cantor (#34) took the mound, playing in front of his visiting parents (and friend). He worked half the game, contributing 99 pitches (thanks to a very strict <100 pitch count). The Trojans looked familiar at first, poking hits, combining for 9 singles and 2 doubles. Kruse took the ball for the game’s second half and was able to cease the poking, holding the opposition to 1 hit over the remaining 3 innings.

The Trojans wasted no time scoring, tallying 6 of their 7 runs in the first two innings. The Hounds got a run here (first inning) and there (fourth inning), before breaking loose in the fifth. The Hounds “batted around” in the fifth, sending all 11 players to the plate one time. In the frame, demi-centurion Matthew Steffens (#5″0″, 2B) started the rally with a single to center, and then promptly stole second base. Cole Thompson (#24, RF) notched his first Hounds hit, moving Steffens to third. Steffens later willed himself home on a passed ball, as did Cole Thompson with a later pitch. The heart of the order then delivered with singles by number 2 hitter Brian Lehman (#2, C) (reliably relieving the regular Hounds backstop for the day) and number 3 hitter Brent Fukushima (#27, SS), before number 4 hitter Kruse doubled to knock them both in. The last run came on an RBI infield single by Matt Burch (#6, 1B). The Hounds topped off their rally with a 1-2-3 in the top half on the sixth, starting with a floating, double-jumping Fukushima stealing an out on a fly ball in shallow center.

The game was tied 7-7 going into the 7th inning, with the top of the Hounds lineup due. Garret Eddy (CF, “Red” #17) singled on a line drive. An expert tactical pinch runner was activated, Tony Correa (#13), who was nursing having caught seven innings and having drank seven beer buckets the previous night. The inning reached two outs before “Most Likely to be 2021 MVP” Houndie recipient Arron Kruse stepped to the plate. Apparently not satisfied with the 3 RBIs he’d already collected, the EH-come-relief pitcher launched an 0-1 pitch into the netting in right field for a home run.

Many fans revelled in the dramatic win, including the Lehman parents, Burch supporters Laura, Daddy’s Daddy Thomas + Brian and Francine Plesha, Taylor Fukushima. Former fan and current player Amanda Mordacq (#84, EH) also made her Hounds regular season debut, in front of her supporting family. Post game, a few fans and players visited Gene & Jude’s, a classic Chicago hot dog joint.

The 3-4 Hounds finish their 3 games in 3 days with a game against the Orioles tomorrow morning at Walther Lutheran.