Welcome to Miller's Tavern Softball
Miller's Finally Gets Rude with Rudl...
Breaks 2-Game Skid vs The Fencers
AP Wire - K.Bryant of the Los Angeles Sun Times
Rudl Fence came into the game riding an 8-Game unbeaten streak. They left with a 1-game losing streak. It was Rudl who had upset Miller's Tavern in the '08 Playoffs and brought Miller's run of consecutive Championships to an end at 3. Rudl won that Semi-Final in Single Elim but lost two straight to AJ Jersey in the Sunday Finals a season ago.
However they have parlayed that success in 2009 and outside of an early season tie against the Tap Masters, this team now believes in themselves and they won their other 7 contests to start the season. They came into the game 7-0-1. They left 7-1-1 after the veteran Miller's squad beat'em 8-5.
Miller's had lost two straight against The Fencers and were tired of losing to this team. The first was the aforementioned '08 Playoff loss and then a 14-8 drubbing earlier in this '09 campaign. They have been averaging about 8 runs a game against Rudl and they reached that mark this time around but in this case, 'Eight was Enough'.
Rudl had beaten Miller's both times with Miller's wiley veteran and Head Coach Bill "Full" Nelson on the mound. Personnel on given evenings had Nelson on the Hill both times. Miller's "D" was not great on either occasion and nobody blames the Pitcher for the losses as very few players truly believe pitching even makes a difference in Slo-Pitch Softball.
There were bloop hits and bleeders that when mixed in with a couple errors and some key hits by the Fencers, it all added up to Rudl wins. Take nothing away from Rudl because they got big hits and played good defense in both wins, but they had yet to beat the 'Ace' of the Miller's Pitching Staff. Friday Night, they got their chance.
The game almost didn't happen and the Miller's Ace almost didn't even make the game. Wicked late afternoon Thunderstorms blew through Phillipsburg and eventually Clinton, NJ but Millers and Rudl had the good fortune to be playing this game at Bundt Park in Annandale. Veteran Umpire Donnie Mitchell knew how many rain-outs there's been and knew how important this game could wind up being if Rudl actually loses another game during the regular season. Plus he would not get paid for a rain-out.
However he patiently waited for an opening and the game started around 6:45pm, right as Miller's lead-off hitter and starting pitcher Scott Farrell showed up. Farrell walked right up and after fouling one off, caught the 2B cheating towards the middle and hit one to where he should've been and Miller's was off and running.
Kevin "If The Shoe" Fitzsimmons (3-for-4) followed with a single as did Rich "Dancing on the" Ihling and "Ethan" Alan Aungst. Nelson and Mike "Mount" McKinney (2-for-3) followed suit with singles and Miller's led 4-0 before Rudl even took a swing.
Rudl did answer back quickly getting to Farrell with 3 quick ones and the game was 4-3 after one. However, Farrell made some adjustments and the "D" behind him was as solid as ever and Rudl did not score again until the 7th. OF and Asst. Coach Jim "Man-to" Mannion was one of those non-believers when it came to Pitchers in Slow Pitch Softball. He has now jumped to the 'Dark Side'.
"Honestly never thought it made that much of a difference" admitted Mannion "but now I know better." So with Rudl not scoring, The Taverners decided to add to their lead in the 4th. Jim "Lord" Stanley had a one out basehit that ignited a 3-run uprising. Mark "Oscar Meyer" Diener (2-for-3) singled immediately after and with two outs, Farrell helped his own cause with his second hit of the night.
That RBI hit was followed by another Fitzsimmons single and then some careless "D" by Rudl allowed the ball to get away on the throw in. Farrell saw the Catcher break for the ball and scampered home all the way from 1B ahead of the Catcher with nobody covering Home Plate with another run and that made it 7-3 after 3 and a half. Only a very nice running catch in LCF robbing Ihling of extra bases that ended the Top of the 4th, kept the game in reach.
Rudl had a leadoff Triple to start their 4th but Miller's was not about to concede a run. "I wasn't giving in" said Farrell afterwards "I really thought we could strand that guy and I knew if we did, it would be big mentally and it was." He proceeded to induce one pop-up to 3B and two line drives were snared and the leadoff triple did indeed go to waste.
The game stayed that way until the 7th when Joey "I Dream of" Eugenio singled and would later score on a clutch two out hit by Ihling and Miller's led 8-3. Ihling and Aungst both had their 2nd hits of the game in the inning as Miller's had a 5-run cushion and things looked good. With one out and nobody on in the Home 7th, there was a line drive to an OF that should've been the second out but it somehow snuck right past the OF in question. "It knuckled" claimed the bewildered OF after the win.
It gave Rudl some life as they desperately tried to hang on to their undefeated season and they did manage to score two runs they probably would not have with two outs and nobody on. However it is doubtful that anyone on the Miller's side ever thought this one was gonna get away. The two runs at the end made the final score closer than it seemed but this one was hardly in doubt from the 4th inning on.
So with Thunder and Lightning in the distance, everything worked out for the Tavern Boys. They had to win this one to have any chance at a #1 seed for the Post-Season. That however does not look good because they blew a game to Harley Davidson of all teams when they were missing some key guys for most of the game and have 2 losses on the year and Rudl has done all their hard work and has a ridiculously easy schedule from here on out.
Rudl has beaten defending champ AJ Jersey twice already this year and only a July 17th date with a 5-2 Bishop's Thriftway stands between Rudl and a first place regular season finish. Miller's on the other hand has a lot left to do, including two games with the defending champs and re-hooks with Harley Davidson, Day Tool & Dye and Bishops.
DTD always tries to give Miller's a hard time (a 6-4 Miller's win earlier) and if Bishops (Miller's won 8-6) has the right team there, they are capable of beating anyone in the League. It could get interesting the rest of the way but for now, Miller's did not get fenced in and finally knocked off Rudl and tightened things up for now.