Neil Clements drilled a walk-off single down the left field line to lead the Caybrew Chuggers to a 12-11 victory over the previously undefeated Coolers in co-ed softball action at the Field of Dreams last week.
‘I was just trying to hit the ball as hard as I could,’ said Clements, who earned the game ball for his heroics.
The game didn’t start well for Caybrew as they gave up five runs in the top of the first inning, four of which came after two outs.
Chuggers captain Alan Markoff said the team has given up a lot of runs in the first inning.
‘I seems like we just can’t settle down defensively until we’ve had a few delicious, ice-cold Caybrews,’ he said. ‘I think we might have to start having pre-game happy hours.’
The Coolers entered the game on top of the Agouti League with a perfect 4-0 record, but once again the Chuggers foiled their efforts to go undefeated.
Last season, the Coolers’ only regular season loss came against the gritty Chuggers, who also defeated them by one run in last year’s game.
Caybrew used their exotic ‘Boilermaker’ defence to confuse the Coolers, as players switched in and out at different positions and they bought in three different pitchers.
Chugger Mark Wallace played three different positions and had put-outs or assists at all three.
‘I’ll play anywhere; don’t worry about that,’ said Wallace. ‘I’ll play catcher if you need me to.’
After going down five nil in the first inning, the Chuggers clawed back into the game with three runs of their own in the bottom of the first, aided by some dubious defensive play in the Cooler outfield.
The Chuggers scored three more in the third inning, but it was their five-run fifth that finally gave them the lead.
Up three runs in the top of the seventh with two outs, the Chuggers almost threw the game away as Pen ‘Forrest’ Reed cleanly fielded what should have been the third out and tossed it into right field for what turned out to be a home run on errors.
After a couple more hits, Cooler Jim Parham then singled home the tying run.
But the Chuggers escaped further damage, leaving the heroics to Clements.
Reed explained his strategy after the game.
‘I just wanted to give them a chance so we could win in the bottom of the seventh. It’s much more exciting to win that way,’ he said. ‘That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.’
Other offensive stars for the Chuggers included Brendon Malice, who had three runs, three hits and a home run; Markoff, who went two for three with a triple and three runs batted in; and Doug Sell, who went two for three with an RBI and a tomahawk chop.
Reed and David Gibb, who both started the season batting a thousand through three games, both finally made outs.
Gibb ended his streak with a weak infield pop-out and then followed it up with a can of corn to left field.
‘Did you see how far that ball went to left field?’ he asked after the game.
Clements wasn’t impressed. ‘The guy was camped under that ball. He built a fire and was roasting marshmallows.’