Vassallo’s Walk-Off Home Run in Bottom of the 8th Propels Fish Sticks Into Championship

22 Jul

Vassallo went 3-5 in Game 5 with a single and two home runs, including his series-ending walk-off

It was a fitting end to an incredible five game series that was pushed to the brink. 4 out of 5 Dentists and the Fish Sticks had gone to extra-innings for the second consecutive game, and each team was a run away from winning Game 5 and clinching a spot in the Wiffle Series against the Caucasians. The Fish Sticks, who two innings earlier were two outs away from ending their 2011 season, had come from behind to draw even with the Dentists in the bottom of the sixth. Both teams were scoreless in the seventh, and with darkness setting in, Vassallo led off the bottom of the eighth inning. The homefield advantage the Sticks had clinched only two weeks prior would come to fruition, as Vassallo crushed the first pitch he saw over the centerfield wall to end the game and the series, catapulting his team to the title and bringing the legendary series to a conclusion.

The Dentists and Fish Sticks had gone blow-for-blow in the first four games of the series, with the Sticks winning games 1 and 4 and the Dentists winning games 2 and 3. There was talk to postpone Game 5, but it was decided that the game would be played immediately in order to beat the darkness. Sundown was fast approaching and the stage was set for an amazing finale to the ultra-competitive series.

The Fish Sticks would send Dinger to the mound to start his third game of the series, despite having earned both of the Sticks losses in the series. Ron led off the game, having been responsible for the Dentists only run in Game 4. Dinger retired him, but the next batter, Marr, singled with one out. The Sticks stranded him though, as Dinger retired Braydn to end the first.

The Dentists started Ron for the third consecutive game, with their three best fielders playing where they were most comfortable. Blose led off the game with a single, and moved to third when Dinger grounded out to center. But Joey couldn’t plate the run, as Ron got him to ground out to end the inning, stranding a runner at third.

Dinger started to get in a rhythm in the top of the second, as he retired Spads and Ron in order to keep the game tied at 0-0.

Ron also found himself in a groove, sending Vassallo and Blose down consecutively in the bottom half of the second.

The Dentists couldn’t break the scoreless tie in the top of the third, as both Marr and Braydn grounded out, and Ron kept the train rolling in the bottom of the third, retiring Dinger and Joey in order.

Dinger retired his fifth and sixth consecutive batters in the top of the fourth, getting both Spads and Ron to groundout.

Vassallo singled to lead off the bottom of the fourth, the first baserunner for either team since the first inning. But Blose and Dinger flew out consecutively, unable to move the runner beyond first base, and the game remained tied.

The Dentists would be the first to score in the top of the fifth, as they finally got through Dinger and the Fish Sticks defense. Dinger retired Marr for the first out of the inning, but the next two batters signaled trouble. Braydn launched a solo homer to right-center field, putting the Dentists up 1-0 and giving them the critical first score of the game. The next batter, Spads, who was 0-12 on the day coming in, hit a home run to center field, making back-to-back home runs and putting the Dentists up 2-0. The Sticks made a quick call to the pen to avoid further damage, bringing in Joey from right field. He retired Ron to end the fifth, but the damage had been done and the Dentists had put the Sticks in a hole.

Spads only hit in games 3, 4, and 5 was a timely one, a homer than put the Dentists up 2-0

Ron also showed his first signs of weakness in the fifth inning. Joey led off the bottom of the fifth by flying out to left field, but Vassallo, who had singled in his last at-bat, followed with a one-out solo blast to deep left field, pulling the Fish Sticks within a run at 2-1. Blose was unable to keep the rally alive, as he grounded out for the second out of the inning, and through five innings the Dentists were up a run.

The Dentists couldn’t add to their lead in the top of the sixth, as Marr and Braydn were retired in order.

The Fish Sticks were down to their final at-bat, down a run, with the series and the season on the line. Dinger led off the inning, and he had come through in crucial situations early in the season. He took several pitches, having difficulty picking up the ball. But when he finally swung, he connected, hitting a laser just inches over the left field wall, tying the game in one of the most clutch and dramatic moments in league history. The Sticks had tied the game at 2-2 with no outs and were a run away from taking the game. Ron was unfazed, however, and retired Joey and Adam to end the sixth, pushing the game to extra-innings.

Dinger's home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning single-handedly saved the Fish Sticks season

Joey remained on the mound for the Sticks, and he kept the Dentists in check in the top of the seventh, retiring Spads and Ron in order.

Ron pitched into the seventh inning as well, and Blose doubled to lead off the inning. The game-winning run was two bases away with no outs. But Ron clamped down yet again, retiring Dinger and Joey, stranding the winning run on second base, and giving the Dentists another chance.

Blose doubled to lead off the bottom of the seventh as the sky grew darker

Marr led off the top of the eighth by flying out to the pitcher’s mound for the first out of the inning. The next batter, Braydn, singled with one out for his second hit of the game. Spads came to the plate and hit a fly ball to right field which Dinger had trouble seeing. Unable to spot the ball, it fell to the ground as Spads raced to first, Braydn around second, and Dinger grabbed the ball. But the umpires ruled the ball foul. Spads came back to the plate, and was unable to move the runner, grounding out to left field for the second out of the inning.

At this time darkness had crept over the field and the ball was becoming increasingly difficult to see for hitters and fielders. An announcement was made that this would be the final half-inning before the game would be postponed. The Fish Sticks came to the plate with one chance to win the game that night. Vassallo had mentioned earlier that he would swing at the first pitch he could see. He swung at the first pitch Ron delivered, and when the ball came to rest it was on the other side of the fence and the game was over. The Sticks mobbed Vassallo at the plate, as he had won Game 5 and clinched a spot in the Wiffle Series for the Fish Sticks. The Dentists were devastated, having poured their sweat into the 2011 season and this five game series in particular. Their season had set like the sun on the EWL diamond that night, one hit away from playing for a title.

Vassallo's Game 5 performance and game-winning home run will go down in history

The greatest series the EWL may ever see had come to an end. Two games alone combined for 21 innings. The Fish Sticks outscored the Dentists 19-17. The Dentists scored 2 runs three different games; the Sticks scored 3 runs three different games. The fielding, pitching, and timely hitting was remarkable. Four of the five games were decided by a single run; the other game was decided by two runs.

The Fish Sticks will now face the Caucasian Vaginas in a best-of-seven series in the Wiffle Series for the 2011 EWL Title.

Game Notes:
– Ron pitched 7 innings, taking the loss while giving up 3 earned runs on 6 hits
– Dinger earned a no-decision, giving up 2 earned runs on 3 hits in 4.5 innings
– Joey got the win for the Sticks, giving up 1 hit and no runs in 3.5 innings
– Braydn led the Dentists offensively, going 2-5 with a home run and a single
– Vassallo carried the Sticks, going 3-5 with 2 home runs, 2 RBI, and a team-high 7 put-outs

Box Score

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