Caucasians Storm Back to Topple Fish Sticks 9-8 in Season Opener

3 May
The Caucasians, led by Morrison's three homers, stunned the Fish Sticks in a 9-8 victory

The Caucasians, led by Morrison’s three homers, stunned the Fish Sticks in a 9-8 victory

Despite trailing 8-2 midway through their season opener, the Caucasian exacted a bit of revenge on the Fish Sticks, coming from behind to win a rematch of last year’s Wiffle Series.

The Fish Sticks claimed the 2011 Wiffle Series Championship by defeating the favored Caucasians in an epic 6 game series that ended on a walk-off home run in extra innings. The teams looked very similar coming into the 2012 season; the entire 2011 All-EWL team returned for the Sticks (Blose, Joey) and Caucasians (Morrison, Guthrie). There were also some changes to both rosters. The Sticks new addition, Ivan Maldonado, became the first free agent to ever player for the squad. The Caucasians also added some free agents, 2011 Manager of the Year Ron, whose franchise 4 out of 5 Dentists are not competing in 2012, and Pat Auth, a rookie to the EWL.

Things looked the same, however, when the first pitch of the 2012 season was thrown. 2011 Pitch King Guthrie started on the mound for the Caucasians, hoping to have a season similar to his 2011 campaign when he went 7-1 with a 2.22 ERA. He faced Vassallo, who was last seen torching the Caucasians with clutch hits during the Wiffle Series. Guthrie got off to a good start, retiring Vassallo and Blose in order in the top of the first inning.

Guthrie delivers to Vassallo in the EWL season opener

Guthrie delivers to Vassallo in the EWL season opener

The Sticks started Dinger, their ace, who also started well by sending down the Caucasians first two batters, Les and 2011 MVP runner-up Morrison.

With no score through one inning, the Sticks got out their bats in the top of the second. Rookie Ivan, in his first career at-bat, doubled for the first hit of the 2012 season. Joey followed with a double which scored Ivan and put the Sticks ahead 1-0. Dinger followed by grounding out to Morrison in left field, moving Joey to third. With one out, Vassallo crushed a bomb to left-center, giving the Sticks a 3-0 lead. As they did three times in the 2011 postseason, Blose followed Vassallo’s homer with one of his own, making back-to-back jacks and extending the Sticks big inning to 4-0. Guthrie, struggling to end the inning, gave up a single to Ivan, his second hit of the inning, and Joey followed with another single putting two runners on for Dinger. But he couldn’t extend the Sticks rally, as Guthrie stranded two runners and ended the big top of the second.

Blose followed Vassallo's blast with one of his own to make back-to-back homers for the Fish Sticks in the second

Blose followed Vassallo’s blast with one of his own to make back-to-back homers for the Fish Sticks in the second

Dinger continued to pitch well in the bottom of the second, retiring Ron and Guthrie in order and protecting the Sticks four run lead.

Guthrie settled down in the top of the third, as Blose and Vassallo each grounded out to Morrison for a scoreless inning.

Down four, the Caucasians finally got on the board in the bottom of the third. Dinger retired Pat to start the inning, but then got into trouble. Les crunched a pitch over the right center field fence, the first Caucasian hit of the day, ending the shutout bid. Down three, the Caucasians cut the lead in half when Morrison followed with a solo blast, making the score 4-2 with one out. Ronnie flew out to Dinger at the mound for the second out, but the Caucasians were on the board.

Les put the Caucasians on the board with a solo homer in the fourth

Les put the Caucasians on the board with a solo homer in the fourth

The Fish Sticks didn’t wait long to respond. Ivan led off the inning with a single, his third hit of the day, and Joey followed with his third consecutive hit, a single. With runners on the corners, Dinger made up for the runs he yielded on the mound, knocking his first homer of the year, a three-run bomb to right field. Guthrie retired Vassallo for the first out of the top of the fourth, but the Stick’s weren’t finished yet. Blose hit a line drive to right center field, and a series of fielding and throwing errors led to the first inside-the-park home run of the 2012 season, as Blose put the Sticks ahead 8-2. Guthrie finally retired Ivan, fanning him for the second out of the inning.

Dinger helped his own cause with a 3-run bomb off Guthrie

Dinger helped his own cause with a 3-run bomb off Guthrie

Down six runs, the Caucasians rallied in the bottom of the fourth. After getting to Dinger the previous inning, their bats continued to produce as Guthrie atoned for the runs he gave up with a solo homer, his first hit of the season. Dinger retired Pat the for the first out of the inning, but the Caucasians followed with some one-out magic. Les singled, and Morrison followed with a monster two-run home run, his second in as many at-bats, cutting the score to 8-5. The comeback would continue, as Ron got his first hit of the season, a solo shot, making back-to-back homers and moving the score to 8-6. Guthrie followed with his second hit of the inning, a single, but Dinger ended the rally by getting Pat to ground out to Vassallo in left.

The Sticks lead had been cut to two runs, and Joey led off the top of the fifth with a single. But Guthrie would strand him there, as Dinger and Vassallo were retired in order.

Les went down swinging after a rare bunt attempt

Les went down swinging after a rare bunt attempt

Dinger picked up his first punch-out of the season to start the bottom of the fifth, as Les went down swinging for the first out of the inning. But the Caucasians were relentless and Morrison was feeling it. With one out, he hit a homerun for the third consecutive time, and it was a one-run game. The Sticks, who jumped out to a commanding lead, appeared to be flustered. A series of fielding errors led to Ron and Guthrie reaching base safely, and with one out, Pat came to the plate with two runners in scoring position. The go-ahead run was on second, and Pat plated him, knocking a two-run single and giving the Caucasians their first lead of the season, 9-8. Dinger stopped the damage there, retiring Les for the second time in the inning, but the Sticks would trail heading into the final frame.

Pat's 2-run single put the Caucasians ahead for good

Pat’s 2-run single put the Caucasians ahead for good

Despite giving up eight runs in his season debut, Guthrie stayed on the mound to close things out for the Caucasians. The Sticks would need one run to extend the game with Blose and Ivan due up. Guthrie got Blose to fly out to deep left for the first out of the inning. Down to their last at-bat, Ivan hit a deep fly ball the opposite way, but Morrison got under it to record the fly ball out, ending the game.

The Caucasians took advantage of costly fielding errors by the Fish Sticks to string together seven unanswered runs to win the first game of the 2012 EWL season, 9-8.

W: Guthrie (1-0)

L: Dinger (0-1)

Box Score

Game Notes:

– The Caucasians tied a single-game team record for home runs with 6.

– Morrison led the Caucasians on offense, going 3 for 4 with three home runs and five RBI.

– Every player in the game reached base safely at least once.

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