‘NUT’TIN’ TOUGH ABOUT RHINOS
‘HONEYS’ STOMP ON ‘STAMPEDE’;
WIN KEEPS ‘NUTS’ UNBEATEN
On Monday, Nuts and Honeys were looking for redemption: the disappointment of three straight losses in the Regional Tournament over the weekend took its toll on the team. To regain their swagger, N&H had to deal with the ferocious Rhino Stampede, who hoped to trample Nuts and Honeys in the jungles known as the North Hollywood Rec Center. But before any Stampede could begin, Nuts and Honeys took aim, and poached the Rhinos, in a 1-0 victory that kept N&H undefeated in the regular season and continued their stay atop the standings.
Nuts and Honeys took to the field in the first, but unlike their previous games, there were no jitters, no nerves, no tension. Clearly, after a weekend of kickball, the team was oiled and ready to go. There was a slight concern that pitcher Doug Weyek, who pitched all three games during the regional tournament, could be fighting a tired arm. Weyek quickly put those fears away, throwing heat early and often. Weyek got out of the inning with a little help from Brian Buller and Chris Nye. Buller made an impressive finger-tip catch of a pop bunt to get the first out of the inning. With runners on first and second, Nye, playing left-center, caught a pop fly for the second out of the inning. The Rhino runner on second hadn’t seen the catch and left for third. Nye quickly threw a laser to second, completing the first impressive double play of the night.
Nut Corey Wish continued his stellar work in the lead-off slot, starting off with a bunt single. Dustin Montez followed with another single, and Wish took advantage of lackadaisical fielding, advancing from first to third on the kick. But N&H weren’t able to take advantage, as Doug Weyek kicked a worm-burner to third baseman, who caught Wish slightly off-base and tagged him out. The Nuts threatened again, when, with two outs, and Montez at first, Weyek at second, Brian Buller singled to load the bases. Cheri Ota tried to push the run home, but her bunt attempt went right to the Rhino catcher, who got the force-out at home, ending the inning.
With the Honeys on the field again, Rhinos threatened to score in the second, but were stymied thanks to the continued defensive wizardry of catcher Brian Buller. With a runner on first, and only one out, the Stampede kicker popped up a bunt. Buller sprinted out from behind the plate, made his second spectacular catch of the evening. The runner at first sprinted towards second without tagging up, not realizing the catch had been made. Buller threw a bullet to Captain Sam Kraft at first to complete the double play and end the inning. Buller had sent a message: ‘Do not bunt on me!’ The Stampede got the message loud and clear, as they didn’t bunt for the rest of the game.
The Nuts came to the plate in the second, and Chris Nye got the party started with a one-out single. Captain Kraft pushed him over with a perfect bunt single. Brian McCarthy stepped up and kicked a drive to left field. The Stampede left fielder made a desperate attempt to catch the ball, but missed it, allowing Nye to score from second. Kraft landed at third and McCarthy at second with a double. The Honeys would end the inning with both runners stranded in scoring position, but had taken the lead, 1-0. It was all they would need for the rest of the game.
The strong defensive play continued for N&H in the third. With runners on first and second, and one out, Tia Ayers and Brian McCarthy combined to catch a deep fly in right. Just one batter later, Weyek forced the Stampede kicker to ground to shortstop Montez, who threw to Tom Fiscella for the force at third to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third, the Nuts were, once again, in a good position to score, but couldn’t push any runners home. Michael Ching, Tom Fiscella, and Corey Wish loaded the bases on consecutive singles to start the inning. Captain Cindy Bautista kicked a grounder to the Rhino second baseman, who threw home to force Michael Ching at the plate. With the bases still loaded, the Stampede got a lucky break, as Montez kicked a blooper just inside the first base line. The Rhino first baseman grabbed the ball, stepped on first for the second out, and threw the ball at Batista to end the inning.
The Rhinos went down one-two-three in the fourth, and Nuts and Honeys couldn’t push another run home in the bottom of the fourth. With an uncomfortable 1-0 lead, the orange warriors took the field for the final frame, hoping to turn around their fortunes from the weekend in Fullerton. Nuts and Honeys got two quick outs, but the dangerous Stampede second baseman stepped up to the plate, hoping to spark a last second rally. As he kicked a grounder to Montez, the second baseman tripped and fell to the ground. Montez cautiously carried the ball over and tagged the fallen runner for the final out of the game.
Their record now at 4-0-1, the orange warriors have steadied themselves. But with 3rd place Uno Mas on deck and a target on their back, Nuts and Honeys continue their toughest stretch of the season. “We have to bring our rock solid defense that we’ve been using,” Captain Kraft said, “and step up our offense.”
GAME NOTES: 14 Nuts and Honeys were active for the game…In the regional tournament, Nuts and Honeys struggled, losing all three of their first round games. There was hope, briefly, that Nuts and Honeys could make the second round on a wild card, but the Pregnant Cheerleaders lost their game, costing N&H a shot at redemption…Despite the losses, a number of the team remained in Fullerton to drink heavily. Doug Weyek and Steve Niel also managed to get food at a Carl’s Jr. Drive Through despite their lack of a car…At practice on Wednesday night, Cheri Ota suffered an ankle injury and is day-to-day.