On Saturday 3rd October the Dublin City Hurricanes met the Greystones Mariners in the Irish Baseball League semi-finals, the winner of which would go to the Irish league finals starting Saturday 10th October. The game would turn out to be one of the great Irish playoff games, with more twists and turns than a country back road.
The day started in showers and ended in Indian-summer like sunshine, with both teams throwing everything into the game in an attempt to make the finals. The Hurricanes had an spectacular 13-3 regular season and wanted to keep that rolling, whilst the young, talented Greystones squad were trying to make the finals for the first time in their history.
The Hurricanes took an early lead with some of the patient at bats that have been a feature of their 2009 season. Steve Divito singled in Mike Johnson and Jeff Burrows singled in Andy Martin. 2-0 'Canes. Credit to Mariners young pitcher Dennis Donnelly, he never panicked and managed to get himself out of some sticky situations without too much damage. Down 2-1, the Mariners made their charge in the fourth and fifth. Piecing together bunts, bloop singles and good base running, the Mariners stormed to a stunning 4-2 lead by scoring two in the fourth and once in the fifth. The damage was only limited by Hurricanes right fielder Jeff Burrows throwing a runner out at home plate with an absolute rocket of a throw. Hurricanes catcher Dan Barry held on to the ball despite a hard (clean) hit from the Mariners base runner.
The veteran Hurricanes lineup did not panic and in the 6th inning, with their season on the line, they struck back scoring twice to tie the game 4-4. With the bases loaded and two outs, Jeff Burrows lifted a fly ball to right that three Mariners chased after, however none could get a glove on. Two Hurricanes scored tying the game dramatically, 4-4.
The ‘Canes got through the top of the 7th without any major drama and then went to work in the bottom of the inning. Chris Foy worked a vital one out walk. Eric Valkys grounded into a fielders choice and was moved to second by another walk worked this time by Mike Johnson. Enter Andy Martin.
‘Big Game Andy’ drove a hard line drive single to right field, scoring Eric Valkys with the winning run and the Hurricanes were in the finals.
The big bats won the game, but some banner defensive work laid the foundation for Big Game Andy and the boys to get those runs across. Jeff’s superb throw to Dan was big. However the biggest play might have come with two on in the Mariners half of the 5th, there was a fly ball to center/right that could easily have fallen in. Through the season Tom Kelley has made dozens of highlight reel plays, and his superb slide and catch to make the crucial out there was right up there with the best of them. We have said it here before, but we will say it again, TK is playing the greatest center field defensive baseball ever seen in Irish baseball right now in 2009.
Now the Hurricanes advance to the best-of-three Irish Baseball League Championships, starting this Saturday 10th October with a double header at the beautiful O’Malley fields in Corcaigh Park, Dublin.
For the Greystones Mariners, this superb semi-final show-down should serve as inspiration to them to keep doing what they are doing. They are a very talented young team with a shining bright future. They are the second toughest lineup one through nine in the league, with a very tricky two through five in their order for pitchers to navigate.
If they keep that squad together and keep improving, they could dominate Irish league baseball for the next five years.
Great semi final, dramatic stuff. Good testament to the level Irish baseball is at as we speak. Now for the finals..
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