Friars Prevail in Labor Day Classic
September 6, 2016
Photo: MVP Br. Timothy Danaher sends off his game-winning two-out inside-the-park grand slam. Credit: Br. Ignatius Weiss, O.P. Guest post by Br. John Paul Kern, O.P., student athletic director at the Dominican House of Studies. The student brothers at the Dominican House of Studies extended their Labor Day softball winning streak to eight consecutive years with an 8-6 victory over the Marians of the Immaculate Conception in the 2016 Labor Day Classic softball game. But this year’s exciting game was anything but a guaranteed victory for the Friars. After the players and fans sang the national anthem, accompanied by Br. Peter Gautsch on the organ, Fr. Basil Cole, who is celebrating his 50th Jubilee of priesthood this year, swaggered out to the mound of DHS Park to throw the opening pitch as smooth as the jazz, which could be heard streaming playfully through the morning air. At the start of the game the MICs pulled out to a quick 4-2 lead with a strong batting lineup in the first inning, which the Friars initially struggled to answer. Both teams played solid defense and prevented each other from scoring in the second and third innings. The Marians again showed their strength, scoring two runs at the top of the fourth. This time the Friars immediately answered back in the bottom of the fourth with two runs of their own, thanks to a homerun by veteran slugger Br. Thomas Davenport. Both teams again settled into a defensive standoff throughout the fifth and sixth innings with the Marians maintaining their 6-4 lead. Rookie relief pitcher Br. Joseph Graziano continued the solid defense of starting pitcher Br. Stephen Ruhl, also in his first season, against the Marians at the top of the seventh inning. Br. Thomas Martin Miller, notable throughout the game at the catcher position for his zeal in vocally holding opposing batters accountable for failing to swing at pitches “well within their strike zone,” got the momentum rolling for the Friars with a lead-off single at the bottom of the seventh inning. Working through the batting lineup, Br. John Mark Solitario, Br. Pier Giorgio Dengler, and the famous brothers Teller, Jonah and Simon, all contributed solid base hits, pumped up by their theme songs, provided by Gautsch on the organ. However, the Marians had managed to throw out two of the friars, leaving the bases loaded with two outs as Br. Timothy Danaher stepped up to the plate. With the characteristic nonchalance for which this left handed batter is well-known, Br. Timothy maintained his cool under pressure until he let rip a furious shot deep into right field. The fielder scrambled to scoop up the ball, which had shot past his position, as the Friars quickly rounded the bases. The ball was thrown to the cutoff player and as Br. Timothy rounded third base a long throw was made to home plate – sailing a foot above the grasping glove of the catcher, who upon recovering the ball looked up to see Br. Timothy safely arriving home to complete the grand-slam, securing the friars an 8-6 lead and himself the game’s MVP title. Fired up by their offensive onslaught in the seventh inning, the Friars’ defense put up a solid wall against the hopes of the MICs during the remainder of the game. The infield was anchored by the gloves of short stop Br. Jonah Teller and third baseman Br. Justin Bolger, who both consistently connected with first baseman Br. Simon Teller and rookie second baseman Br. Damian Day to prevent the MICs from gaining any foothold. The outfield also delivered a pristine performance in the final innings with Br. Philip Nolan and Br. Isidore Rice, both rookies, at center and right field supplementing the veterans Br. Thomas Davenport and Br. Timothy Danaher playing left field and utility fielder. Not wanting to end the game too quickly nor place his scholarly objectivity in question, umpire Br. Jordan Zajac called foul and out-of-play a high pop fly, which Bolger had swiftly snagged, allegedly on account of contact with a few leaves of a tree along the left foul line, thus prolonging the final inning of the game. Nevertheless, Br. Joseph Graziano’s hard-to-predict pitching continued to frustrate the aspirations of MIC batters, following the advice of the coach, Br. John Paul Kern, over the loud protests of Miller, who pleaded with bleeding heart to Graziano for easy pitches down the center for the MICs, possibly in reference to the ongoing Jubilee Year of Mercy. But the only mercy shown was a swift conclusion to the game, which ended one hour and forty-five minutes after it began, with the Friars ahead 8-6 after putting the MICs away at the top of the ninth inning. After lining up to exchange the customary sign of peace with the MICs and taking a group picture, the Friars gathered on their sideline where coach Kern congratulated the victorious players, confirmed that once again fun had been had by the Friars, and, anticipating the evening’s Labor Day cookout, solemnly exhorted the brethren, “let’s celebrate.” Post-game photo of Friars and Marians, credit: Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.