Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nuts and Honeys: First Round of Playoffs Recap

NUTS ABORT PREGNANT CHEERLEADERS
HONEYS ADVANCE IN PLAYOFFS AFTER 4-3 WIN;
CHEERLEADER/TEEN PREGANCY ON DECLINE AFTER LOSS

Captain Sam Kraft’s game-saving catch

Under the lights at the North Hollywood Rec Center on Monday Night, the Pregnant Cheerleaders were hoping to “Rah-rah-sis-boom-bah” their way past Nuts and Honeys and into the second round of the playoffs. But Nuts and Honeys were ready and armed with the “morning after” pill, as well as an intensity and fire that reminded many of the high school football star who accidentally forgot to “pull out” and impregnated those Cheerleaders. As the two teams waged a war of kickball against one another, it appeared that the battle would continue long into the next day. But Nuts and Honeys ended the night earlier than expected as they scrapped and scraped their way to their most important victory of the season, beating the Pregnant Cheerleaders 4-3, and advancing to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

In the top of the first, with the aid of a wild strike zone and some questionable calls, the Preggos were able to strike early, scoring two quick runs. But huge catches by Chris Nye, Captain Sam Kraft, and Dustin Montez ended the inning and prevented a flood of runs from coming in and holding the score at 2-0.

To lead off the bottom of the first, Nuts and Honeys sparkplug Corey Wish continued his stellar play when he bunted his way onto first. Dustin Montez took advantage of the small strike zone and walked, and Doug Weyek followed with a single to load the bases. With only one out, Steve Niel kicked a single to drive in the first run of the game, cutting the Preggos’ lead in half, 2-1.

But controversy surrounded Brian Buller when he kicked a blooper that landed just inside fair territory at third base and bounced wildly into the outfield, scoring what appeared to be the tying run. But the Cheerleaders protested, claiming that the ball had popped on the kick, making it a dead play. The umps agreed, erasing the second run, forcing the runner to return to third and Buller to re-kick. Frustratingly, on the next pitch, Buller fouled out, and it appeared that Nuts and Honeys were affected by the call. But Captain Sam Kraft re-focused the team with a single, driving Montez home to tie the game at 2-2.

The teams remained deadlocked through the third, but in the top of the fourth, the Preggos broke the tie when they scored their third run of the game. Once again, it appeared they might break the game wide open, but huge catches by Montez and Kraft, slowed the momentum, and a huge play by Brian Buller, who fielded a bunt and threw to first, ended any chances for the Cheerleaders to score.

In the bottom of the fourth, Nuts and Honeys struck back. Steve Niel lead off with his second single of the night to begin the rally. Brian Buller pushed Niel over to second with a single, and as the Preggos were slow to field the ball, Niel sprinted to third and Buller swiped second. Captain Kraft bunted for a single, loading the bases and re-energizing the squad.

Brian McCarthy then booted a mile-high pop up between first and second, but the Preggos’ fielder wasn’t able to make the catch, allowing Niel to score the tying run, and McCarthy to reach first safely. Due to the dropped ball, Kraft was tagged heading to second for the first out of the inning. With runners on first and third, Travis Greene kept the rally alive with an infield single. After Captain Cindy Bautista popped out for the second out of the inning, Chris Nye stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Nye had preached patience to his teammates all night, and, at the most important time of the game, was able to demonstrate that patience, earning a clutch walk to push the lead run home, giving Nuts and Honeys a 4-3 lead.

With the slimmest of leads, Nuts and Honeys took to the field for the fifth, hoping for an easy 1-2-3 inning. But the Preggos weren’t giving up that quickly and put the pressure on when their first two kickers of the inning got on base. With no outs, the Nuts and Honeys defense dug in as they had all season. Travis Greene made a running grab near second to earn the first out of the inning. Second baseman Eric Staskiel smoothly fielded a grounder and threw to Kraft at first for the second out of the inning.

With the runners now at second and third and two outs, the Preggos needed a single to tie the game and keep their season alive. Their next kicker knocked a bloop that was driving past first base and appeared as if it would fall into fair territory, just between right fielder Tia Ayers and first baseman Kraft. But Kraft sprinted into the outfield with her back to the ball. As the ball sailed into the grass, Kraft turned her gaze skyward and watched the ball return to the earth. She extended her arms and grabbed the ball, making, what some would call a Willie Mays-like catch. “The Catch,” as it is now known in North Hollywood circles, ended the game, closed the door on the season for the Pregnant Cheerleaders, and allowed Nuts and Honeys to live to play another day.

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