Labor Day Brings Win to the Friars, 6-5

September 10, 2013

Friars squeeze past the Marians of the Immaculate Conception in extra innings —Washington, D.C., by Br. Thomas More Garrett, O.P. Nine innings were not enough Monday as the Dominicans hosted the Marians of the Immaculate Conception (MICs) in the annual Labor Day Classic softball game at “DHS Park” (behind our House of Studies in Washington, DC). The Friars managed to eke out a 6-5 win in the bottom of the twelfth when a well-hit single to right field by Br. Alan Piper brought speedy Br. Athanasius Murphy in to score the winning run. Br. Alan, who batted 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs, shared MVP honors with classmate Br. Timothy Danaher, who went 3 for 4 with one home run. Fr. Sylvester Willoughby led both teams in prayer before the game. The 92-years-young friar (that’s right, 92 and going strong) delivered a rousing speech on the historical significance of the sport before tossing this season’s first pitch. Br. John Sica got the start on the mound for the Dominicans. The Friars had every reason to believe that Monday’s win would not come easy. The buzz around Northeast Washington had it that this year’s MIC squad was sure to be one of the toughest teams that the Friars have faced in recent years. Seminarian softball prognosticators gave a slight edge to a seasoned MIC team bolstered by the return of Brs. Joseph Lappe and John Paoletti. The Marians seemed poised to meet the rising expectations with their first at-bat. Led by Br. John Paoletti’s two-run stand-up triple, the Marians put three runs on the board before the Friars could catch their breath. Down by three, the Friars answered right back in the bottom of the first when lead-off hitter Br. Timothy hit a deep fly ball that finally came down behind the MIC right fielder and, but for the high grass in deep right, might have bounced and rolled all the way down to the Capitol. Br. Alan followed Br. Timothy’s home run with a single to right and reached home on another solo-shot by centerfielder Br. Thomas Davenport (1 for 3, 1 R, 1 RBI). Yet despite the Friars’ own early success at the plate, their offense sputtered after the first couple of hits and the Marians closed out the inning with the score 3-2 in their favor.

Both teams settled down after the action in the first. A line-up change in the third brought Br. ‘Lucas’ Luke Hoyt in at second base to bolster the Friars’ defense. Br. Luke (1 for 2 at the plate) was scheduled to start for the Friars until a cold kept him under the care of the infirmarian throughout the weekend. Despite being unable to practice last week, Br. Luke showed no signs of illness as his sound fielding anchored an improved Friar defense. With each team playing flawlessly in the field, neither squad allowed a run in the second, third or fourth inning. The 3-2 MIC lead held into the bottom of the 5th when costly errors and hits by Brs. Timothy and Thomas Davenport allowed the Friars to punch in two runs. The Friars led 4-3 after five. After holding the Marians scoreless through six innings, the Friars were unable to protect their lead. Hits by Fr. Mark Baron and Br. John Paoletti sparked a two-run eighth-inning rally for the MICs. With the Friars unable to respond in the bottom half of the inning, the Dominicans found themselves behind 5-4 when they took the field in the top of the ninth. In the past two years the outcome of the Labor Day Classic has turned on key defensive plays. The 2013 contest was no different. This year it was the late inning performance by two rookies, first-year Brother John Dominic Bouck at shortstop and classmate Brother Justin Bolger at catcher, that made the difference for the Friars and kept the team alive. After the MICs put runners at second and third, Br. John Dominic gunned down a Marian base runner at the plate when Br. Justin applied the tag to prevent the Marians from adding an insurance run that would have made the difference in the outcome of the game. The score stood at 5-4 in favor of the MICs when the Friars took up the bats in the ninth. The bottom half of the inning started slowly for the home team as the Friars’ chances started to fade after the first two batters failed to reach base. Poised and undeterred by the dim outlook, outfielder Br. Gregory Pine (1 for 2, 1R) took to the plate with two outs and launched a powerful shot over the left fielder’s head. Br. Gregory’s clutch two-out double put the tying run in scoring position. From second base Br. Gregory stretched a mishandled ball off the bat of Br. John Dominic and charged into home to tie the game. After a hit by Br. Dominic Mary Verner (1 for 3), the Marians were able to close out the inning. The game headed for extra innings with the score tied at five. Both teams intensified their defensive play in the later innings. Friars’ pitcher Br. Dominic Mary Verner held the Marians hitless in the tenth and eleventh innings. While Brs. Humbert Kilanowski (1 for 3) and John Sica (also 1 for 3) each had a hit in the eleventh, the Marians were able to strand both runners and hold the Friars scoreless. The game remained tied after eleven innings. The fireworks came for the Friars in the twelfth. The home team held its opponent’s top of the order scoreless, allowing only a single from Br. John Paoletti. Br. Athanasius Murphy led off the Friars’ side of the twelfth by beating out a grounder toward third. Br. Timothy followed with a line drive single into right, allowing Br. Athanasius to advance to second base. First baseman Br. Alan stepped into an outside pitch and launched the shot into right field, sending Br. Athanasius home and the Friars into the win column with a 6-5 victory. The Friars’ path to victory on Monday was paved by the stellar play of two second-year brothers, Brs. Timothy and Alan. Rookies on last year’s team, both stepped comfortably into leadership roles this year. After the game, Br. Timothy explained that the two classmates provided a mutual source of support to one another. “Br. Alan and I stayed in contact throughout the whole game, even when we weren’t talking, encouraging each other to look for opportunities to make a difference in the game,” commented Br. Timothy. “It’s that special connection that classmates share,” Br. Alan added. “Today it all came together.” The win marks the Friars’ fourth consecutive victory over the Marians in their annual Labor Day game. The Friars dedicated their win to Assistant Student Master Fr. Allen Moran, who will be leaving Washington soon for his new assignment. Fr. Allen, you will be missed by the brothers.

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