EA Part III off to a winning start
ROLLING PRAIRIE- The new look Emery's Army made their ORWBL return in style as they picked up a hard fought Opening Day series win over the Great Lakes Godfathers.
It was only fitting that Emery's Army made their return in the ballpark that they made so many memories at in their previous stints- The Grassy Knoll. While EA will not be playing there all season, it was definitely a great idea to kick things off there.
Despite not being a part of the league last year, the Emery's Army roster still picked up another year of experience as they were spread out across a few different teams. Along with all of them returning, EA saw one of the ORWBL all time greats Danny Hernandez make his EA debut.
In game 1, EA did not look like they took a year off in league play. Jake Lawrence played well on both sides of the ball as he drove in his first HR of the season and made several stellar plays off the mound, per usual. Kevin May showed no signs of aging as he went 4-4 with 2 RBIs and Ryan Murphy raked in 2 HRs and led the game with 4 RBIs. EA looked like they were ready to sweep after a 9-5 game 1 win according to Manager Kevin May.
However, in Game 2 the Godfathers put the league on notice that they should not be taken lightly. Their crafty vets and new additions steamrolled EA, especially in the 2nd inning where they put up 13 runs. EA's bats went silent as Matador stymied them in seemingly every at-bat. Great Lakes routed EA to the tune of 19-4 which set the stage for a highly contested rubber match in Game 3.
Newly-acquired Danny Hernandez took the mound for EA in a back-and-forth battle. GL carried a 13-11 lead heading into the bottom of the 6th. Eric Johnson led off with a solo HR and eloquent bat flip to cut GL's lead to 1.
With 1 out, Kevin May slapped a hit past the pitcher and legged out a single. Next up was Hernandez, but with 2 HRs in his prior 2 ABs, GL decided to intentionally walk him to face EA's rising star - Brady Burnett. The Sophomore phenom wasn't rattled by the pressure and crushed his first ever walk-off hit in style - a 3-run HR that propelled EA to a game 3 and series win.
Hernandez had himself a fine EA debut as he went 8-15 on the day. Rolling Prairie's youngest player Brady Burnett also had a great day at the plate as he also went 8-15, leading the way with 9 RBI's & 7 Runs. Both of these players could definitely be what separates this EA team from past ones.
Meanwhile, Ryan Murphy and Eric Johnson who are both coming off of a World Series title each led the power surge with 4 Home Runs. Kevin May also did his share, flashing his speed while going 6-14 on the day.
The lone EA man to struggle was Jake Lawrence who finished the day hitting .200. However, Lawrence surely was able to make up for a bit with his quality performance on the mound throughout the day.
The fact that Rolling Prairie was able to pick up a series win without Lawrence playing well is certainly something to take note of. The veteran Lawrence figures to bounce back next week as he rarely struggles for extended periods of time.
Meanwhile, the Great Lakes lineup also had themselves a very productive day at the plate as Paul O'Hara, Mark Haase and Matador Smith each hit over .500. Andy Sieradzki also made his entrance to the lineup heard as he blasted 4 Home Runs in the series. Sieradzki figures to play a key part in their success this season.
Matador had himself quite the day at the plate as he led the Godfathers in Home Runs (6) RBI (9) and Runs (9). Matador also was the winning pitcher in the Godfathers lone win of the day. That was certainly a breakout performance for Matador whom has struggled a bit with American League pitchers.
Maybe just maybe the switch to the NL was exactly what the Matador ordered as he has to be extremely pleased with his Opening Day performance. If the Godfathers can get this kind of production from him consistently this season, Great Lakes will be an extremely tough team to beat week in and week out as he brings it both at the plate and on the mound.
Despite losing the series, the Godfathers actually outscored EA, 37-28 on the day as they ran away in Game 2, winning in blowout fashion, 19-4. Therefore, Mark Haase and company have no reason to hang there head on the series loss as they actually played quite well.
Great Lakes will look to turn some of those runs into wins next week as they will host the Lynn Street Leprechauns (0-3) in what figures to be a fun filled matchup.
Meanwhile, Rolling Prairie (2-1) will look to build off of their successful start as they will travel to Granger (3-0) in what will be a tough early season test for EA.