March 1st, Big Rec, Golden Gate Park
Old Clubs with new faces took the field Sunday afternoon for the second half of the opening day double header at Big Rec. Compared to the cagey first match of the day, it was fireworks, as the Aces and Pelicans came out swinging to start the match. The Aces, renowned for their powerful veteran strikers and looking fearsome in their all-black kit, struck the ball as if the off-season never happened. The Aces took up the offensive form that led them to a second-place finish last year, by putting up four in the top half of the first.
Rookie Pelican hurler, Donnie Oliviera, admitted to being nervous on his debut, but settled down after the first, kept his composure, and threw darts to keep the Aces’ bats at bay for the next four frames. His squad, undeterred by the Aces’ offensive prowess, came back with three aces of their own in the bottom of the first frame. Game on! Yet offense came at a premium over the next few innings as both teams tightened up and produced a series of naughts on the board. In the bottom of the fourth, however, the Pelicans tallied two aces to take a 5-4 lead. Perhaps that was the catalyst that sparked the Aces’ bats back to life, as they came alive in the top of the fifth inning, pushing five aces across, to take a 9-5 lead; they added three more in the sixth, making it 12-5. The Pelicans countered with solid hitting and recorded three in the sixth and one in the seventh, but in the end it wasn’t enough; and despite excellent defense and hurling on both sides, the Aces’ balanced offensive attack won the day.
Chris “Snakecharmer” Jensen started in the hurler’s box for the Aces, but was replaced by Casey “Fingers” Hammonds after the second. “Fingers” hurled a solid four innings, fielded his position with aplomb, and went 3-3 at the plate with two runs batted in and two aces scored - a fine day for the big lefty. Matthew “Coop” Cooper also delivered a man-of-the-match performance for the Aces by playing the Behind for six innings and then closing out the game in the hurler’s box. Aces’ newboys, Ryan Smith, Travis Setterbo, and Wes Sandoval showed some vintage ginger by playing excellent defense and hitting a collective 5-9. Huzzah, the lads!
For the Pelicans, rookie Donnie Oliviera had an exceptional debut and looks to be a formidable hurler and all-around ballist. When Donnie left the game he was on for the win; alas, it wasn’t to be. Veterans Scott “Friendly Fire” Enberg struck the ball well and Alex “Tick-Tock” Entrekin held down the position of the Behind, as he does, and also finished the game for the Pelicans with his intimidating hard-throwing, short-arm hurling style. Most credit, though, goes to the Pelicans’ rookies, of which there are nine, who took on the Aces fearlessly. Nate Underwood made a leaping catch in deep centerfield to end the second inning, keeping the game in reach; and the riveting bearded wookie, I mean, rookie, Ryan Akerberg, not only smashed one deep into the gap in left-center to drive in two, but also debuted seamlessly as the Behind when Tick-Tock took the mound.
Special thanks all the Cranks who came out to spend the day watching Base Ball and especially to Carl “The Sir” Gibbs for calling a flawless double header and representing the very best of BAVBB traditions.
In the end, as shadows lengthened across Big Rec and opening day reached its denouement, all agreed it was a glorious day for the Bay Area Vintage Base Ball League. We look forward to the next round of matches to be held on Sunday, March 15th.
Your Humble Scribe,