Fastpitch Semifinals: All-Star Auto and Bulldogs advance
The semifinal round of the fastpitch softball playoffs Friday brought the Bulldogs, Les Evas All-Stars, All-Star Auto and the Oroville Dirtbags to compete for a chance at the championship. In the end, after two fierce games, the Bulldogs and All-Star Auto teams came out on top.
The early game pitted the Bulldogs against a tough Les Evas All-Star team. The game started slow, and moved to a stalemate for much of the contest. Both teams accrued some hits, but both defenses were stout and the pitching strong on both sides en route to a 2-2 tie game going into the fifth inning.
Les Evas pitcher Bob Woods managed to get his team out of tricky situations on multiple occasions, fending off the Bulldogs with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, and consistently getting the powerful hitters of the Bulldogs to fly or ground out.
The success wasn’t meant to last, however, and in the bottom of the fifth inning the Bulldogs lit up, starting with solo home run shots from Justin Deme and Jarret Roenicke. From there everyone’s bats got hot, from Sam Keehn’s single that brought in two runs, to Evan King’s triple bringing in two more. Finally, Russell Brackett got the decisive hit to end the game 9-2 with a walk-off.
Although it took a little while for the hitting to get going, the Bulldog players remained patient, and weren’t worried about eventually getting the hits they needed.
“We knew it was just a matter of time before our real team showed up, we’re probably the best hitting team in the league,” said Jarret Roenicke, adding that the team’s chemistry is largely due to how long they have been playing together.
The Bulldogs will be hoping that their good hitting will hold true, especially after watching the dominance of All-Star Auto in the late game. Behind a superb pitching performance from Mike Milligan the team advanced to the championship game 8-1 against the Oroville Dirtbags.
Some close officiating calls threatened to upend the good-natured attitude of the league, but ultimately sportsmanship won out, as did the All-Star Auto team.
The bottom of the second provided much of the controversy, after a Daryl Allen single, Oroville’s Jake Fox missed the tag at second and a misfire on the throw to first resulted in a string of runs, putting the All-Stars up 5-1.
Things settled somewhat from there, but All-Star Auto had taken control. Oroville couldn’t seem to find their rhythm and they couldn’t get anything by Milligan or the infield. Strong defense and some timely hitting from Kyler Caldwell, Justin Nicholson and Ryan Carlson in the bottom of the fourth sealed the deal for the team.
“There was a bunch of close plays, and in an elimination game, close plays will almost always get argued, by at least one team,” said All-Star Auto pitcher Milligan of the officiating, adding that he believes the umpires got the calls right.
Milligan, who has been lights out throughout the playoffs, allowed just one run during this game and had high praise for his infield.
“They’re fantastic, they made three or four exceptional plays,” said Milligan, “My job is to just get them to hit ground balls and they picked every one of them up.”
Milligan and his All-Star Auto team will now look forward to the championship against another team with great pitching and a whole lot of hitters, the Bulldogs. Due to scheduling conflicts with both teams having players headed off to different national tournaments in the next couple weeks, the championship game is yet to be scheduled.
Kael Newton is a journalism student at the University of Oregon and is interning with The Union; he can be reached at NCPCIntern@theunion.com.
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