Batters use defense to clinch title

Nich Wolak • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:55 PM

It wasn’t looking good for the Batters.

The squad had been leading the Bucket Heads for the entirety of their Coast Guard Festival softball championship game at Mulligan’s Hollow on Friday, but a base-running mix-up left them with zero runs in the seventh inning — and the Bucket Heads were rallying.

A clutch double play ended that.

After a flyout, single and walk from the first three hitters at the bottom of the final inning, Batters’ pitcher Rod Gonzalez caught a line drive, tossing the ball to first baseman Curt Rust before the Bucket Heads’ runner could tag up. The play allowed the Batters to hold on for a 26-21 win in the high-scoring affair.

“I was trying not to drop the ball, just try to make the play, and make a good throw,” Gonzalez said. “I had been struggling with my throws the whole tournament. I just wanted to lob it over to first and make sure we got the double play.

“My thing was, ‘Catch, and make a good throw.’ ”

Gonzalez and Rust embraced after the game-clinching play. To the outward eye it was in triumph, but Gonzalez said there was just as much relief mixed in. 

“Once the game is over, it’s just euphoria,” Gonzalez said. “It’s like, ‘Yeah, we did it — finally.’ All the butterflies come out of ya, and you’re able to enjoy the victory.”

It was testy in the Batter’s dugout heading into that final inning, but coach Jeff Jackson reminded his squad that they were about to face the bottom of the Bucket Heads’ order — the ideal scenario to seal the deal, and avenge their 2013 championship loss.

Gonzalez’s catch came off the No. 10 hitter, allowing the Batters to avoid the top of the Bucket Heads’ order.

Jackson said that the victory was extra sweet after losing to the Bucket Heads in last year’s title game.

“They’re the defending champions, the last four or five years we always end up playing them,” Jackson said. “It was real nip-and-tuck.”

Read more of this story in today's print edition or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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