First round playoff loss eliminates chance of repeat championship
Sept. 11, 2008
The Williston Armadillos concluded their season on Sunday with a 2-0 loss to the Waterbury Warthogs in the first round of the championship bracket of the Vermont Senior Baseball League. The Armadillos collected just seven hits, though up and down the lineup, they hit the ball hard.
“The vast majority of our outs were hit hard, but right at people. We had plenty of chances to break the game open but failed to get the big hits when we needed them,” said third baseman Pat “Pookie” Martin.
Martin (2-4) and pitcher Bill Supple (2-4) were the only Armadillos with multiple hits. Thus, the Armadillos left 11 men on base in suffering the first shutout in their five-year history.
Supple threw a complete game, giving up just eight hits. Both runs scored by the Warthogs were unearned, the results of the only two defensive miscues committed by the Dillos, both of which took place on bunts.
“Overall, Bill pitched well enough to win and, outside of the two errors, we played excellent defense, including several great plays, one a running catch of a pop up by (shortstop Greg) Bolger in short center and another a diving catch of a hard hit grounder headed for right field by (first baseman Dennis) Johnson, who threw the runner out at first while on his rump,” summarized second baseman/catcher Darby Crum.
As a result of the loss, the Dillos, the league champions last year, also lost the opportunity to claim the championship two years in a row, something that has yet to be done, as the championship has been belonged to 10 different teams over the last 10 years.
The Warthogs took a 1-0 lead in the second. After a one out walk, Supple fielded a hard bunt right back to the mound, but threw wide of second, allowing the runner on first to reach second safely.
“I had so much time to throw the ball, I thought about it too much,” said Supple. “I should have just thrown the ball.”
The next batter doubled, bringing in the runner from second.
Waterbury’s second run was scored in the fifth inning. After a leadoff single, the next batter bunted down the first base line. Johnson had plenty of time to pick up the ball and win the race to the bag, but failed to pick it up before he began his move backward. By the time he regrouped, the runner was safe and no out was recorded. Two sacrifice flies later, the runner on second scored.
Meanwhile, the Armadillos repeatedly threatened but could not push a run across. They left runners at first and second in the first, seventh and eighth innings and at first and third in the sixth. In the eighth, the third out was recorded on a fly ball to the warning track by catcher Tom “Bambino” Fitzgerald.
“Another three feet and we would have been moving on to the second round,” said the Bambino.
After the game, the team was particularly solemn, as the players reflected on the early exit from the tournament as well as being shut out. Their mood was captured by ball girl Charlene Johnson, who commented, “There was no joy in Mudville today.”
The Armadillos will have a long winter to think about what could have been as their next game will be at noon on the last Sunday in April 2009, the location and opponent yet to be determined.