TnTs Reclaim Crown with Dramatic Last Inning Rally Against Wonders
By Roger Godin, DIPNIC Sports Reporter
Lilah Thompson (Ware Institute) lined a single to left field driving in Ryan McGonigle with the winning run in the final inning of the championship game for a 2-1 victory over the Wonders. This win returned the championship crown to the TnTs in a hard-fought pitching duel in the 22nd Annual Whiffleball Challenge on a blustery, sunshine-filled day on Hartman Green before a packed crowd of well-fed FPS rooters.
The TnTs (those reporting to Dean of the College, Kent Trachte) featured strong pitching from Ryan McGonigle (Ware Institute) who earned both victories for the TnTs in their return to glory, who also achieved timely hitting in key moments. The entire 2013 Challenge was one of the lowest scoring ever as only 13 runs were scored in all of the three games combined.
McGonigle retired the Wonders (those reporting to Provost Ann Steiner) with relative ease in the first inning of the championship game, surrendering only a single to Froney Crawford (Physics) with two outs.
In the bottom of the first, the TnTs manufactured a run with the help of some daring baserunning by Missy Mariano (Athletics). After Mickey Blymier (Athletics) flied out to centerfielder Chris Salko, Mariano singled to start it off. Christina Fried (Athletics) then lined a single to left to move Mariano along, and this single led to a run with some unfortunate throws by the Wonders, allowing Mariano to score all the way from first. Casey Kear (Athletics) popped out to pitcher Crawford, but a single from Mike Faith (Athletics) moved Fried to third. The TnTs could not capitalize with more runs as Kaitlyn Hamilton (Athletics) drove the ball to center fielder Chris Salko (a free agent from Athletics) for the final out of the inning.
In the top of the second inning, the Wonders could not muster a baserunner as Annalisa Crannell (Math) and Tim McCarty (Government) both flied out to leftfielder Mike Faith, and Mary Risner (a free agent from Advancement) grounded out to pitcher Ryan McGonigle.
In the bottom of the second, Wonders pitcher Froney Crawford figured out some strange physical principle related to his tosses as all three of the TnT hitters, Kirsten Richter (Athletics), Kelly Kennedy (College Programs) and Kristen Kudrick (Athletics) drove the ball directly to the Wonders left fielder John Holmgren (Art & Art History) who caught all three in the same portrait pose.
The Wonders finally broke into the scoring column in the top of the third inning. After Chris Salko popped out to pitcher McGonigle, Tom Mariano (free agent from Admission) singled to start the rally. Joni Wagner (free agent from Public Safety) grounded back to the pitcher but this moved Mariano into scoring position. Dave Ciuk (Government) then lined a single to left, scoring Mariano with the tying run, but the inning ended when Annalisa Crannell grounded out.
The TnT pitcher Ryan McGonigle begun the final rally with a single. He moved to third on a line single by Nora McGurkin (Athletics). After Sean Kelleher lined out to left field, the stage was set for Lilah Thompson’s heroics. On a 1-1 pitch, Thompson lined a single to center field, which plated McGonigle with the winning run.
The TnTs and Wonders made it to the championship game by different means. The TnTs defeated last year’s champions, the Heroes (those reporting to VP Dave Proulx) in the first game of the tournament in a hard-fought contest.
The TnTs started fast in the top of the first when Mickey Blymier (Athletics) lined a single, which was followed by another single from Missy Mariano (Athletics). Christina Fried (Athletics) moved both runners along with a ground ball to pitcher Ryan Phillips (Facilities & Operations). Casey Kear (Athletics) was then called out by umpire Perry Schied (Facilities & Operations) when Scheid said that the ground ball that Kear hit struck him while he was running to first. Mike Faith (Athletics) then drove two deep balls to right, but both were foul. He then struck out swinging to end the rally.
The Heroes got on the board in the first. Eric Shaub, the MVP of last year’s Challenge, led off with a single and made it to third base as he dared the TnT fielders and they made some ill-advised throws. After Johanna Kobularik was retired, Ryan Phillips singled to right driving in Shaub and then moving on to second on the throw. Pat Henry drove in Phillips with a single to center. The rally ended when Anne Schuman and VP Dave Proulx were retired.
The TnTs responded with three runs in the top of the second inning to take the lead. Kaitlyn Hamilton (Athletics) reached first on a swinging-bunt single. Kirsten Richter followed with another hit that only traveled a short distance. With the runners on first and second, Kelly Kennedy (College Programs) lined a single to left that drove in Hamilton with the first TnT run. Kristen Kudrick (Athletics) then grounded a ball back to pitcher Phillips who elected to toss to third to force out Richter for the first out of the inning. Ryan McGonigle then drove in Kennedy to tie the score. On the next play, Nora McGurkin (Athletics) drove a line shot toward right field, but Dave Proulx made a spectacular play diving to his right to snare the ball and prevent a run. Unfortunately for the Heroes, Lilah Thompson drove a single, which plated Kudrick with the third TnT run of the inning, giving them the lead that they would not relinquish. The Heroes escaped that inning with no more scoring.
In the bottom of the second, despite a leadoff double by Ryan Massey (Facilites & Operations) and a two-out single by Joni Wagner (DPS), the Heroes were unable to score off McGonigle.
The TnTs added an insurance run in the top of the final inning. With one out, Missy Mariano lined a single. Christina Fried also singled and then Casey Kear followed with a single that scored Mariano with the TnTs’ fourth run. Despite another single by Mike Faith, the TnTs were unable to score any more runs.
In their final at bat, the Heroes only managed a one-out single by Kathy Bartel (Business Office) and their dream of repeating as champions ended.
In the other semifinal game, the DIPNIC Whiffeball Challenge moved into unprecedented territory. Short on players, the Wonders of Provost Steiner, managed to sign several free agents between games. The free agents included Missy Mariano and Kelly Kennedy (later to be shipped back to the TnTs for the championship game), Joni Wagner and Anne Schuman of the Heroes, and Tom Mariano of the Warriors.
The Wonders started quickly in the first inning of this second semifinal game off Warriors pitcher Walter Stewart. Four straight singles by Dave Ciuk (Government), Anne Schuman (Free Agent-DPS), Froney Crawford (Physics) and John Holmgren drove across two runs with Crawford and Holmgren picking up the RBIs. Annalisa Crannell also singled for five straight hits, but the Wonders were not able to push across any more runs, leaving the bases loaded.
The Warriors (those working in Admission, Advancement and Communications) got one back in the bottom of the first. With two outs, Dom Rozzi (Admission) singled and eventually scored after a single by Kim Bryan (Admission) and an error by the pitcher on a Lauren Johnson (Advancement) line drive.
The Wonders pushed across the final run of the game in the top of the second inning with four straight singles by Kelly Kennedy (Free Agent-College Programs), Joni Wagner (Free Agent-DPS), Dave Ciuk and Anne Schuman (Free Agent-DPS). Schuman got the RBI as Kennedy scored.
The Warriors only managed a one-out single by Tom Mariano in the bottom of the second.
The Wonders loaded the bases in the top of the third on singles by Annalisa Crannell, Missy Mariano reaching on an error, and a Kelly Kennedy single, but they could not score.
In their final at bat, the Warriors mounted a rally with two outs getting singles from DJ Korns (Advancement) and Dom Rozzi, but could not score them. The championship game was set between the Wonders and the TnTs.
After a wonderful display of sportsmanship at the conclusion of the Championship game, which saw both teams lining up to shake hands (Stanley Cup Hockey-style) Commissioner Suzanna Richter (Office of the Dean of the College) awarded the Championship trophy to the TnT captain, Mickey Blymier. All those involved, and many of the throngs of spectators remarked about the absence of the beloved former commissioner, David Stameshkin, who had shepherded this competition through its first 21 years, but all raised a glass to cheer his good name. Commissioner Richter proved herself to be a worthy successor and keeper of the DIPNIC Whiffleball Challenge tradition.