Gold Country Ol' Buzzards Game Report #19
Game: August 23, 2015
Buzzards hold-off Yankees in close one, 15-13
For the 19th game of the season, the Gold Country Buzzards were scheduled to play the Yankees. Due to the Yankees' history of being hapless and win-less until this season, the Buzzards tend to put the Yankee games on auto-pilot or the vacation schedule. Since everyone had the same idea plus recent injuries and work, the Buzzies found themselves with nine players on Sunday. The nine included appearances by two players from last season's team to fill-out the squad. Paul 'General' Lee and Norm 'Burner' Tucker showed up ready to play and to help fill-in for the seven missing Buzzards.
The day was gorgeous in Auburn for the 10 o'clock game at James Field with temps in the 80's for the match. The starting hurler for the Yanks was a lefty with some zip, Terry 'Too High' Whelan #11, while the Buzzards juggled their rotation with the crafty right-hander, Rick 'Salmo' Salmeri #6 throwing for the first three innings, so he could catch the rest of the game.
Those damn Yankees jumped on the scoreboard first with three runs and had a big rally going before an interesting double play foiled it. With one out and after three runs had scored on hits and some sloppy throws, the Yanks had runners at second and first. The batter, 74-year old ' Sweet' Lou McDonald, hit a high pop-up to short right-center-field.
The umpire immediately yelled out 'infield fly rule', but not loud enough for all of the old guys to hear. So, the second baseman, Dan 'Wookie' Wukmir drifted onto the grass in short center to try and make the catch. The evil pop-up continued to float away and required a pirouette-leap-move to miss the ball by 'that much'. With the ball and Wookie on the ground, the runners began to advance. Quickly covering the ball was the center-fielder, who was also trying to make a play on the ball, Barry 'Soon to be Blue' Forman. Blue picked up the ball and threw a short strike to Dave 'Evy' Everingham at second, and that started a quick 'run-down' as a big Yankee was hung up between second and third. Evy and Gregg 'Surf Dawg' Novotny, at third, played catch and toyed with the runner in the 'pickle' before Surf Dawg applied the glove for the second out of the double play and ended the inning.
The Gold Country Nine came storming back with a bigger crooked number (7) in their first swings of the bat in the bottom of the first frame. Salmo led-off with a base-on-balls and Wookie followed suit to put two runners on. After Evy bounced into a fielder's choice, the over-throw at first base allowed both Buzzards to move into scoring position. Up next, Pete 'Baron' Von Zboray pulled a sharp grounder through the left-side for a two-run single. Burner, in his first at-bat since the January shoulder surgery, then walked on five pitches.
With two on and one out, Blue Barry hit a looper into short right-center for a base hit and drive in the Baron from second. Next, Mike 'Mickey' Wilson walked to load the bases for Surf Dawg. Dawg then shot the first pitch on a line into right-center-field for a single to knock in Burner and Blue. Mickey was thrown-out at third on the play.
The General, returning from retired-status and using his ol' trusty orange Buzzard bat, on the next pitch hit a flare into right-center for a solid base hit.
Next, with two outs and the team having batted-around, Salmo was hit on the knee and took first base to fill the bases. Wookie then turned a nine-pitch battle and one broken bat into a walk to force in Dawg. Evy followed with a hot grounder up the middle to drive in the General for the last score of the first inning. The score after a long first inning was Buzzards 7 and Yankees 3.
Both teams were scoreless in the second inning, but the Yanks added three runs in the top of the third. Four hits, a walk, and an infield throwing error were the contributors. The Yanks changed pitchers and put the big righty, Jim 'Big Mac' McAdams #26, on the hill in the last-half of the third.
Going into the bottom of the fourth and with the score 7-6 Buzzards, the Gold Country gang tacked on two more runs for a little breathing room. The Baron started the dig with a walk. Burner trailed with a single to left that dropped just inside the line. On the hit, Norm's bat ended up on the infield grass, a few feet in front of home plate. The ump, on this one umpired game, somehow tripped on the bat and went flying hard into the ground while the play was proceeding. The umpire, young Jimmy 'Needs glasses' Oliver was face-down during the end of the play and the game stopped to check him out. As someone reached to help him up, he jumped up and slammed his count-indicator into the ground. The clicker skipped to the pitchers' mound, as he expressed his displeasure with a bat on the infield.
The game resumed with two on and no out and Burning Man's Blue Barry coming to bat. After striking out earlier by swinging and missing at Big Mac's 'gravity ball', a slow rainbow-style pitch, but not nearly an Eephus pitch, that Big Mac mixes in with a decent fastball. Blue stayed back well on the rainbow pitch and drove a solid liner into right-field to score the Baron. Later, Burner scored from third on a wild pitch to make the score Buzzards 9 and Yankees 6 after four innings.
The Yanks bounced back with three big runs in the top of the fifth frame. A lead-off walk, two singles, a double and another evil pop-up for an error resulted in three runs and two left on. The excited and whupping it up Yankees and their fans had tied the score at 9-9 in the fifth.
The Ol' Buzzards were now challenged to get some runs and extinguish any Yankee hopes of a Buzzard lunch. To that end, Salmo got on base via an E-6 muffed grounder, one of just two Yankee errors. Mickey ran for the pitcher, Salmo, at first base. Wookie then laced a liner into right and Evy followed with a single to short left to load the bases for the Baron. Pete took pitch number seven to deep center-field for a sacrifice-fly that scored General Lee from third. With Burner at the plate, the two runners advanced into scoring position on a blown pick-off attempt of the Wookster at second base. Tucker then slammed the sixth pitch into center for a two-run single to make the game, 12-9 Buzzards at the end of five full innings of play.
The Gold Country Nine dug up four more shiny runs in the bottom half of the sixth. Surf Dawg led-off with a base-on-balls. Mickey ran for the pitcher, Surf Dawg. Batting next, General Lee survived an attack by a nine inch, five ounce sphere as it struck him on the hip. He then claimed first base as a battle settlement. Salmo followed with a fielder's choice that put runners on the corners. Paul ran for Rick.
Batting next, Wook, who also struck out earlier on Big Mac's gravity ball, waited patiently on the 3-1 pitch, this time, before sending a rocket shot deep down the right-field line. The ball landed on the line just short of the warning track to confusion. The ump signaled fair, as the damn Yanks yelled out foul. Wookie counter-yelled fair as he saw the ball hit the line and rounded first base, but when he arrived at second base for the double, there was another Buzzard returning to the bag due to the confusion. The General then sprinted to third base before the ball came in, while plating Mickey on the long hit and leaving two runners in scoring position for the Baron.
With two out and two on, Pete smacked the first pitch to left-field for a two-run single bringing home the General and Major Wook. Up next, with the Baron on the move, Burner creamed the 0-1 offering to deep left-field to score the Baron of Keys from first with the last Buzzard run of the game. The score was a comfortable 15 to 9 with six innings played and time getting short.
However, the Yankees were not done and they battled back in the seventh inning with a four-run rally and had runners on base before the last out was recorded with a strike-out. After the inning started with a 7-3 put-out that caused a little dust-up with Barry fielding the soft liner in left and making a strong throw to first base to nip the over-sized runner in a close play. Next, a walk was followed by a liner to Burner at second and a close double play try at first base made it look like the end of the game was near.
The next five Yankees, were the meat of their order and with a double and three loud singles later, along with a missed pop-up opportunity, four runs had scored with two runners on before Surf Dawg ended the affair with a three-pitch strike-out of the opposing pitcher.
The 3-hour and 10-minute, seven-inning game ended with a closer score than imagined against the Yanks. The final score was Buzzards 15 and the surprising Yankees 13.
Buzzard pitching was solid, while the Buzzard defense was porous at times with six errors. Salmo pitched the first three innings and faced 18 Yanks while throwing 71 pitches (43 strikes & 28 balls) in earning the win. The Yankees scored six runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks with two strike-outs. Surf Dawg was on the mound for the last four innings and threw 80 pitches (54 strikes & 26 balls) to 24 batters in getting the save. The Yanks scored seven runs (2 earned) on seven hits with one walk and three strike-outs. Both pitchers experienced a sprinkling of errors to extend innings and their pitch counts.
The Buzzard offense got it going early, then discovered their groove again later against Big Mac's gravity ball for 15 runs on 16 hits and with the help of seven walks, two hit batsman, and two NY errors. The hit club for the last home game of the season included (in batting order): Salmo, Wookie-2, Evy-2, Baron-3, Burner-3, Blue Barry-2, Mickey, Surf Dawg, and General. The 15 important runs were scored in four of the seven innings by: Baron-2, Blue Barry, Burner-2, Evy-2, General, Salmo-2, Surf Dawg-2, and Wook-3. The 15 ribbies were knocked in by: Barry-2, Burner-3, Evy, Surf Dawg-2, Wookie-2, and a whopping five timely RBI's by the Baron. The six Buzzard-eyed walkers that took advantage of the seven free passes to first base were: Baron, Burner, Mickey, Salmo, Surf Dawg, and Wookie-2. Two Buzzards got zinged by pitches during the game: Salmo in the second on the knee and the General on the hip in the sixth inning. Since chicks dig 'earned bruises', those players were surely taken 'care of ' back home.
The Buzzard defense has had better days. The team was short-handed, so many Buzzards were playing out of normal positions or in two cases, playing for the first time this season. The six errors, though, were uncharacteristic and usually bit the Buzzies at bad times. Included was a rare sighting in the seventh inning, when a charging Barry got the ball in the glove with a basket catch, but could not hold-on for his very first dropped catch as a Buzzard.
In the final two innings, the team played with eight players and just two outfielders – the General and Blue Barry patrolled the vast outfield grounds. Barry had another rarity in the game. Blue got two assists from the outfield during the game.
In the first frame with the infield-fly-rule double play, and in the last frame with the 7-3 play for the first controversial and critical out, as it turned out, of the inning.
Of the 21 outs, there were five strike-outs and one double play. There was only one fly ball put-out during the game. The fly-out was a can-of-corn to Mickey in left-field to end the second inning.
The double play with the infield fly rule was a 4-7-6-5-6-5 play to end the first inning.
There were 11 put-outs at first base that were spread between three first-baggers in the game including two unassisted plays, one each by Burning Man camp buddies, Norm in the third and Pete in the fifth. Mickey was at first base for the last couple of innings and had three put-outs, while Burner had four and the Baron also had four during their stints at first base. Salmo had three put-outs and two assists playing pitcher and catcher.
Burner played well after the long lay-off and had five put-outs playing first and second and had one assist. Evy, at shortstop until departing in the fifth for a Pirates' game, had one put-out and three assists. Wookie saw action at second and third, then shortstop during the game and chalked up one put-out and four assists. Surf Dawg garnered one put-out and two assists playing third and pitching.
The Baron caught for the first time in a long time and completed the three innings behind the plate that the team needed. The Baron Von Zboray got nailed early on the index finger of the right hand with a foul tip to make for a painful game and a funny looking finger. Salmo caught the fourth through seventh innings after pitching the first three.
The Yankees got a little excited for a while and they said this game will give them confidence to go up against the Solons in the first-round of the upcoming playoffs. The Yanks play the Solons in their last regular game next Sunday, and will play the Solons again in the first-round of the playoffs.
The victory was the 16th of the season for the Ol' Buzzards (16-3) with one game remaining in the 20-game regular season.
It is time to start savoring these Buzzard wins as the season winds down and a one-game playoff awaits the team against the winners of a Solons – Yankees contest on September 13th.
Buzzard Note #1: Thanks to Norm and Paul for coming to the game and filling-in for the missing, wounded, and working Buzzards. Both performed well. Norm, played first and second, and was 2-for-4 with two runs, three runs-batted-in, plus a walk and two stolen bases. Paul, playing right-field, was 1-for-3 with a sharp single in his first at-bat and a run scored plus was hit-by-a-pitch for a Buzzard bruise.
Buzzard Note #2: The championship game time has been set. The big game will be at 10 o'clock on September 20th at Playfields Park in Davis.