Through a tremendous show of team play, the Chicago Hounds prevailed 9-8 over the 3rd place White Sox avoiding another season sweep Tuesday evening at Winnemac.
The pitching performance proved to be a relay race, starting with rookies Adrien Kelly (#45) and Cole Thompson(#24) and finishing with veterans Matt Burch (#6, 1B/P) and Mike DiCola (#28, LF/P) .
The Hounds exploded quickly with a lead off triple by Brent Fukushima (#27, SS) who later scored on a productive ground out by Joe Malafronte (#17, 3B). A few errors produced an unearned run. Then, a Burch single produced two more runs, and a double/sac-fly combo by Lehman (#2, RF/1B/LF) and Jessee (#3, CF) finished up the 4-run first inning rally. After an early exit from the starter Adrien Kelly (#45), Cole Thompson (#24) stepped up and preserved the lead, holding the Sox to 2 runs in the first. The rookie Cole went on for his best performance of the year, holding the Sox scoreless in the next two innings.
An opposite field RBI single by Zelenka (#21, EH/RF), and an RBI deep double by DiCola added some padding in the 4th. Additional padding was provided in the fifth when a Fukushima double was converted to a run on a Sells (#19, 2B) single.
Following a shaky start to the fourth, veteran Matt “I’m the only one here with a 0.0 ERA” Burch demanded the nod for second relief. He induced three outs, but not before the game was tied 8-8. Burch kept the Sox off the board the rest of his innings, owing to a big, big sliding catch by Zelenka in shallow right field with two men on in the fifth and a sweet Fuku-Sell-Man 6-4-3 twin killing smothering an effort in the sixth.
The seventh inning belonged to the fourth reliever/closer Mike “Straight Frisbee” DiCola, who debuted a new arm angle for his appearance. He quietly quieted the Sox with a whoop-less strikeout to strand runners-in-scoring position and send the game to extras.
Darkness fast approaching, Brandon Jessee grounded to third base and aided by an expert application of parkour, safely achieved first base and second base on a throwing error on the play. Jessee would will himself to 3rd on good baserunning on a reach-on-error by Zelenka. DiCola narrowly missed playing hero when a soft fly to shallow right was nabbed on a great play by the Sox shortstop. It fell to Phil Oweimrin (#25, EH) with two outs in the eighth. The sophomore put the ball in play, a grounder the shortstop could not handle, and reached safely by error, scoring the go-ahead run. Following an intentional walk to the lead-off batter, wired-up manager and amateur baseball strategist Tony Correa (#13, IR) directed the next batter Malafronte to intentionally strike out to allow time to complete the inning and game. Befuddling his supportive, but unaware, teammates, Joe took what were surely the worst swings of his life to complete the SAC-K and end the top half of the inning. The gamble paid off, as the visiting team retired the 1-2-3 batters in 1-2-3 order to seal the win.
The chip-in victory improved the Hounds record to 10-12 on the season. They look to notch another victory against the DegenerateXs on Thursday at Maywood.