As the Chicago Hounds donned their blue and grays between the Walther Lutheran track and the reliably asphalt-stiff baseball diamond, a familiar, loud, goofy laugh echoed across the field. And out of the Chicago ether through a swirling dust cloud walked Mike DiCola, uniform untucked and three top buttons characteristically neglected.
Tuesday’s outing against the Blazer’s marked DiCola’s first 2023 appearance for the Hounds, and once again, Dicola proved he has more junk than Fred Sanford in spring. DiCola ended his first day on the mound with 3 strikeouts and a lot of weak contact from the Blazers’ lineup. He spun his way through 3 innings of work without allowing an earned run. In fact, Hounds’ pitchers—Brian Lehman and Japheth Bandi finished the game—did not give up an earned run as the Hounds’ defeated the Blazers 13 to 2 in six innings.
The Hounds defense, still finding its footing, didn’t do the Hounds’ pitchers any favors by committing four errors. The Blazers’ tallied six errors. Both teams found the throw to first base to be a monumental task. Hounds’ first baseman Bandi, and later Jules Cantor, and Blazers’ Gray Shirt #2 performed all sorts of calisthenics trying to snag errant throws. Garret Eddy provided one defensive bright spot, throwing out Blazers’ Gray Shirt #3 at third base from deep center field.
The Hounds put two runs up in the first inning. Eddy started off the game with a single and came home on a hard-hit ball by Tim Riggenbach that forced Blazers’ left fielder White Shirt #1 into an error. Riggenbach dashed home later on a Colin French infield hit.
Blazers’ pitcher, Gray Shirt #1, kept the Hounds’ bats quiet in the top of the second, but the Hounds put another two runs on the board in the third inning. Eddy started the scoring again with a Texas Leaguer home run that struck the roof of Gray Shirt #1’s blue Honda CR-V, a dent that will live with that painful memory until he buys yet another sensible automobile. Bandi came around to score the second run on some more Blazers’ left field shenanigans.
Cantor drove in the sole run of the fourth inning, knocking in Lehman on an infield chopper. Lehman took the mound in the bottom of the inning and put up another zero on the board. in the top of the fifth, French drove in another run on a Fielder’s Choice. In the next At Bat, Tony Correa drove in Bandi by, legging out a roller to second base.
The wheels came off for the Blazers in the top of the sixth. Gray Shirt #1 exited the game to go check out the dent in his mid-sized SUV, Gray Sweatshirt #1 took the mound, and six Hounds rounded the bases. Here’s the scoring summary:
Greg Sells is hit by pitch. Hans Hetrick walks. Hetrick runs Sells into an out (perfectly understandable mistake). Cantor walks. DiCola singles. Arron Kruse singles in Hetrick. Cole Thompson walks. Cantor scores. Bandi knocks in DiCola. French drives in Kruse and Thompson (his 4th RBI). Samuel Ortiz is hit by pitch. Phil Zelenka doubles in French.
Bandi came on to close out the Blazers with two strikeouts and a pop out in the bottom of the sixth, sending the Hounds to their sixth victory in eight games.
The Hounds celebrated the victory at Johnnie’s Beef. After all the beefs and Italian ices were finished, Mike DiCola walked to the parking lot and disappeared back into the Chicago ether and his own personal reality show. Where he comes from, where he goes, only few know.