Monday, September 8, 2008

If this sounds familiar, it should

UTICA – New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra once said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

The saying holds true in amateur baseball circles here in Wisconsin. One year ago, Monona had a chance to clinch the Home Talent League championship when they hosted Sauk Prairie in the third game of the league’s round robin format.

Monona lost, and they were forced to go on the road to win the championship the following weekend. It all sounds very similar to what’s happen this year in the HTL.

On Sunday the Utica Association had a chance to clinch the title, but lost to the Verona Cavaliers pushing the final and deciding game back a week.

With both Utica and Verona tied at 2-1 after three rounds of round robin play, the deciding game is to be played at the site opposite of which the teams first played. Thus, next week’s game will be played on Sunday September 14 at 1:00 p.m. in Verona.

What remains to be seen is if Utica can rebound and win the league pennant on enemy territory.

Utica failed to take advantage of the opportunity to prevent the series from extending an extra week by giving up a barrage of runs to a solid hitting Verona club.

The Association took 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning behind the strength of RBI singles by both Matt Ellingson and Micky Ramsden, but that was as good as it got for Utica.

Verona tied the score at 2-2 in the very next frame with a pair of run scoring singles by Zach Spencer and Justin Scanlon and never looked back.

“They hit the ball,” said Utica manager Dale Vike. “We had a couple mistakes that cost us some runs. That didn't beat us. They beat us.”

Verona kept on scoring to the tune of an 11-5 victory. The usually potent Cavalier lineup added some extra bang when the bottom of the batting order came up big in the victory.

The seven through nine hitters in the Verona lineup all had RBIs. Designated hitter Bill Englehart had two.

“It's a coach's dream when everybody down the lineup is making solid contact with the ball,” said Verona manager Dale Burgenske. “When our team plays that way, we score a lot of runs, period.”

Utica has their work cut out for them next week. Not only do they have to figure out a way to slow down the Verona slugging powerhouse, but they have to do so with an ailing pitching staff.

Ellingson, who started the first game of the Final Four for Utica, hasn’t pitched since due to soreness in his shoulder.

“They beat us today,” said Vike, “but that don't mean they're going to beat us next week.”

It’s kind of like Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

Next weekend’s Home Talent League road trip: Utica at Verona on Sunday September 14 at 1:00 for the 53rd and final game on the road trip.

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