There were plenty of Cats, at least one bulldog, and lots of stars, too.
The Springtown Mudcats defeated the 45-American leading Diamondbacks by a score of 11-5 on Sunday at Silver Creek Baseball Field in Hellertown in the Lehigh Valley Men’s Baseball League Game of the Week.
The Mudcats win kept them atop the 45 National Division. The Diamondbacks dropped this one but are in good shape, too – they remain atop the 45 American Division.
The Mudcats’ powerful offense features three homerun hitters, and they put the bats to work early by jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. The Diamondbacks immediately matched it in the bottom half, but then the Mudcats bats just kept on going to the tune of 18 hits.
“Bulldog” pitcher Don Link came right at the Mudcats sluggers. Against a lineup full of players that most hurlers would prefer to pitch around, Link attacked the plate and allowed just one free pass in a complete game performance.
Stars In Their Eyes
The Mudcats and Diamandbacks stars battled in this one. On Saturday, they'll join forces.
Nine All-Star players speckle these teams’ rosters, including three from the Diamondbacks and six from the Mudcats. On Saturday they’ll represent the Lehigh Valley MSBL 45-and-over All-Stars against the Bux-Mont MSBL 45-and-over All-Stars at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown.
While Bux-Mont players have come north to join Lehigh Valley players in the Upper Nazareth Township Community Days charity games each of the last two seasons, it’s the first time that these neighboring MSBL leagues will go head-to-head in an All-Star game.
And they’ll do it at the beautiful 10,000-seat, state-of-the-art home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Philadelphia Phillies top minor league affiliate. Making it more special: It’s the 10th LV MSBL All-Star game at Coca-Cola Park as the Iron Pigs celebrate their 10th season.
Clawing Out a Victory
Manager-Player Jamy Ritter led his Mudcats in more ways than one.
The All-Star owner of two homeruns this season paced the offense with two doubles among his three hits. He filled out the stat sheet by driving in three, scoring once, and stealing a base. He also seemed to push all the right managerial buttons, too, getting all 16 Mudcats into the game and 15 of them to the plate.
There was more of what Ritter delivered. Fellow All-Star homerun hitter Keith Hawk added a single, a double, a walk and two runs. Other Mudcats with more than one hit were Julio Lebron (2-3, RBI), Mike Scott (2-3), and All-Star pitcher Dave Palumbo (2-4, 3 RBI, R), who no doubt enjoyed the backing.
Palumbo survived a four-run first inning but would allow just one more run in the next five innings before handing off to All-Star Tim Brader, who closed out the win with two strikeouts in the final frame.
Diamondbacks Manager-Player Brian Stine, the head coach of the All-Star team, said he was proud of his players who wouldn't flinch and stayed within striking distance despite missing some key bats.
“The Mudcats are the strongest hitting and pitching team in the league. To beat the Mudcats you need to play error-free ball and be prepared as a pitcher to get hit hard,” Stine said.
Diamonds in the Rough
The Diamondbacks bats and pitching are pretty good, too.
Richie Hansen and Cleve Marshall missed homeruns by a matter of feet, and Stine made a nice grab in left field to save two runs.
They helped back undaunted Diamondbacks All-Star hurler Don Link, who tossed a complete game. It’s difficult to generate swing-and-misses against the sturdy Mudcats offense. But Link wouldn’t back down. Despite only three strikeouts, he kept attacking -- allowing just one walk.
“The Diamondbacks pitcher [Link] was a bulldog. He pitched a complete game and wouldn't give in to the Mudcat batters,” the Mudcats coach Ritter said.
Hansen finished 3-3 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored. Marshall was 1-2 adding a double and two RBI of his own to go with a walk.
Birds Chasing Cats
While the Mudcats (12-1) and Diamondbacks (9-3) each remain firmly in first, they’re hardly in the clear.
The Mudcats, who also notched a win against the Dodgers this weekend, take on the defending champion Cardinals in a doubleheader Sunday. The Cardinals (9-2) are in second place in the 45 National Division and just one game behind the Mudcats in the loss column. The teams have another doubleheader on August 6, as well.
While the Cardinals hope to derail the Mudcats, they’ve already helped the Diamondbacks. The Cardinals win over the Patriots (7-5) this weekend means the D-backs closest competition in the 45 American Division couldn’t make up any ground.