Saturday, Aug. 25—Hudson Valley and Aberdeen battled back and forth with the Renegades finally pulling out a 7-6 victory in 11 innings. Aberdeen scored a run in the first, Hudson Valley drew even in the third, both teams scored five runs on four hits and an error in the fifth and there the scoring ended until the 11th, when Charles Epperson raced home with the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Tommy Coyle. The walkoff, the fourth of the season, was the Renegades’ season-high eighth straight victory and pushed their record to 45-20. Please click here to read the game story on the Gades’ Web site.
The Gades threatened to win the game in the ninth but Richie Shaffer was called out on a close play at home plate—so close that Manager Jared Sandberg’s vehement protest led to his ejection after he and both umpires paced briskly back and forth near the plate.
The game was preceded by the annual Eric B. Huss Outing, which raises funds for scholarships in memory of the late brother of Kristen Huss, director of ticket sales. The outing, postponed because of potentially inclement weather a couple of weeks ago, was hosted in Corona Cove by the Huss family, including Kristen and parents Conrad and Audrey. Beverages included a very tasty beer named Pacifico, which I had not had the pleasure of encountering before. It was also a pleasant change to be at the front end of the burgers and hot dogs—nice and warm—instead of farther down the food chain at the end of the night.
A highlight of the pregame activity was learning that Fred and June have become engaged. Par for the course, it took me a few minutes to realize why June was extending her left hand toward me; then I saw the beautiful diamond and congratulated them both.
Back in Section 107, John, Colleen and Mike were in the Fleischman seats, which assured me of good baseball conversation and backup if I missed a play. One row behind, next to the aisle, were historical society friends Dan and Anne, who were celebrating Dan’s birthday.
In the top of the fourth I had a reasonable chance at a foul ball when Aberdeen first baseman Cameron Edman tipped a slow roller toward the backstop. I went into recovery mode, pushing out the fence and reaching down toward the ball, which had skittered a few inches back toward the field. As I tried to extend my reach I saw a hand—the ball boy’s—lift up the ball. Fair enough, but then I heard, “Jeff, you would have had that a few years ago.” Ouch! First, I wondered who was calling me by my real name, since most folks at The Dutch know me only as Prospector. Then I discovered the grinning source—Dan, the birthday boy, who is all of one year younger than I am.
Big Steve fared better at Catch 21, the Renegades’ version of blackjack, with a stunning victory in the between-innings contest on the third-base line.
Aberdeen second baseman Creede Simpson got everybody’s attention with a three-run homer in the fifth, his second round-tripper in as many games. On a more personal note, relief pitcher Josh Hader got my attention when I discovered that he shares an April 7 birthday with my daughter Kathleen, as did another Aberdeen reliever, now-departed Ken Wise, who pitched against the Gades at The Dutch July 20. Yet another Aberdeen link—center fielder Anthony Vega went to Manhattan College, my alma mater.
The game ran so long that it pushed past the curfew for fireworks. Zolz’s announcement that the fireworks had been canceled because of the hour was met with sounds of displeasure, and a lot of people headed for the exits. I can understand their disappointment (and I’m sure some of the exodus was linked to tired kids and personal or job obligations), but because the fireworks are canceled you walk out of a game that is tied in extra innings? And with the Renegades playing some of their best ball in years as they keep finding ways to win?
Jubilation reigned in the parking lot as we congratulated Charles Epperson on the winning run and numerous other players in general. The only sad note was that we had to say goodbye to the Gantts; Bob, Teresa and Linley are headed back home to South Carolina tomorrow after a great several days with us at The Dutch. Bob repeatedly urged us to watch Call of the Wildman on the Animal Planet channel, the adventures of the Kentucky-based Turtle Man and his friends who perform a combination of wildlife rescue and critter removal as humanely as possible. We assured him we’d check it out and wished them all a safe trip home.
As for local wildlife, we saw two foxes scampering about the parking lot after the excitement died down, and one of the skunks made a brief appearance.