Two outs away....that's how close the Hawks were to sweeping their way through their Division I regional and advancing to the state semi-finals at McCarthy Stadium.
With one down, no one on base, and in the top of the seventh yesterday at Pepin Field, the South Kingstown Rebels - to their credit - refused to back down against the two-time defending state champions. Stringing together a series of walks and hits, the Rebels managed not only to tie the score but also to take a 5-4 lead into the bottom of last inning. With the exception of a dropped pop-up by the SK shortstop, the Hawks went down quietly in their final at-bat, and the Rebels held on for a well-deserved win.
The Network carried the game live, with production input from Stone Freeman, Cam Brennan, Zach Johnson, and Max Zweiner. During the afternoon we once gain provided a glimpse into our in-game operations:
Why Zach Johnson was movin' to the beat of play-by-play is still a mystery.
The entire game can be seen here:
Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
Our guys came into the game with a 19-1 overall record, which included two straight wins in the regional round of the playoffs. To say that the sudden turn of events was surprising, however, would be a mild understatement; it didn't necessarily come out of nowhere. For much of the season the Hawks simply offensively bludgeoned their opponents , routinely 'mercy-ruling' other teams by ten or more runs. To this point in the playoffs, though, the offensive production has been somewhat uneven. It certainly hasn't approached the output of the middle part of the season. Fortunately, the Hawks have gotten quality pitching in the playoffs, which has been enough to tip the balance in their favor.
Anthony "AC" Cofone toed the rubber for the Hawks yesterday, his first appearance in several weeks after having been hit on the leg with a line drive during a game against Cumberland. For three-plus innings, AC was sharp, as evidenced by this strikeout to end the top of the first inning:
Somewhere in the middle of the top of the 4th, however, AC seemed to run out of gas, at least to an extent. Perhaps the unexpected layoff hurt; in any case, the Rebels began to hit him around a bit and plated two runs before the inning had ended. After the Hawks responded with four runs of their own in the bottom of the frame and AC took the mound for the fifth, it was pretty clear that he was, at that point, running on empty and was lifted after having recorded just the first out.
Action from the Hawks' 4-run fourth inning can be seen here -
Offensively, the Hawks' attack was once again not up to its own standards, though John Willette (triple), Brady Chant, and Kevin Sutyla all chipped in with two hits apiece.
All relevant game stats are provided below.
As a result of the loss, the Hawks head down to Wakefield today for a 3pm, winner-take-all regional final matchup with the Rebels (weather permitting), a trip to McCarthy Field on the line. Matt McCaffrey will take the ball for the Hawks.