As has become the tradition in the Chattahoochee Valley baseball program, the Pirates concluded their fall season with the annual Black & Blue Series. This has become a Pirate custom in which the team is split in half through a draft by assistant coaches, Dash O’Neill and Matt Ward, and the two teams play a best 4 of 7 game series. The winner of the series eats steak and the losers eat hot dogs at the team’s Fall Awards Dinner.
GAME 1, October 29
In a series which mimicked the fall season, pitching was the dominant factor in Game 1. Coach Ward’s Blue squad sent Payne Kosobucki to the mound for the start and proceeded to throw 5 shutout innings of baseball, allowing a single hit. Coach O’Neill’s Black squad threatened only once during the first 5 frames, when with 2 outs in the top of the 3rd inning, Ben Williams and Sean Osman reached on back to back errors, but the fire was quickly extenquished, as Kosobucki fanned Kevin Moore to end the inning.
Casey Hanna, the Black team starter, was equally impressive through 4 innings of work, as he faced only 2 batters over the minimum through those first four frames, allowing 2 hits and striking out 7. However, in Hanna’s longest outing of the fall, he seemed to run out of steam in the 5th, as Team Blue touched him up for 3 runs.
Hanna issued back to back one out walks to Timmy Massengale and JD Perry and then later loaded the bases on another walk to Kaine Gibson with 2 outs. Coach Ward then called a 2 out, 2 strike base hit bunt that caught the Black Team napping to take a 1-0 lead. An error and a past ball later, the Blue squad took a 3-0 lead, needing only 6 outs for the series opening win.
Cam Sperry came in relief of Kosobucki and retired the first two batters of the inning, when he issued what appeared to be a harmless 2 out walk to Matt Nettles. However, Jeff Ronpirin followed him with a single and Nick Jones raked an RBI single to put the Black Team in business, making the score 3-1. A walk to Jared Martin loaded the bases and Ben Williams had the biggest hit of the game, hammering a single up the middle to score Ronpirin and Jones to tie the game at 3. On the same play, an errant throw on the relay saw the ball go into the dugout and allowed the go ahead run to score to give Coach O’Neill’s squad an improbable 4-3 lead.
With a 1 run lead and 2 lefties due up for Team Blue, Coach O’Neill send lefty specialist, Joey Stringfellow out to start the 6th inning. He then proceeded to strikeout both Ty Abbott and Cam Sperry for the first 2 outs. Still fighting for every at bat, Cody Walker stepped in and smoked a 2 out double down the left field line to put the tying run in scoring position. However, on the next pitch, Stringfellow picked off the pinch runner to end the Blue threat.
Colt Ramsey tossed a scoreless 7th for Coach Ward to keep the deficit at only 1 run. However, closer Kevin Moore went into complete shut down mode for the Black squad, as he ended Game 1 in a 1-2-3 fashion to give Coach O’Neill’s team a 4-3 win and a 1-0 lead in the series.
GAME 2, October 31
In another pitching duel, Hunter Mitchell made his first start of the fall for Coach Ward as he faced off against Jesse Foster of the Black squad. Team Blue drew first blood in the bottom of the second inning, as Ty Abbot led off the inning after being hit by a pitch. A one out single by Tim Massengale put runners at the corners for JD Perry, whose ground ball was not fielded cleanly allowing Abbott to cross the plate for the game’s first run.
Mitchell was in shutdown mode for the first 3 innings, allowing no runs and only 3 hits while striking out 3 Black teamers. However, Coach O’Neill’s boys got to Mitchell in the fourth, as a leadoff single by Nick Jones and a double by Jared Martin was followed by a walk to Ben Williams to fill the bases with no one out. A bases loaded walk tied the score at 1, when Gaige Garret ripped a single to give Team Black a 3-1 lead. An RBI ground out later and the Blue Team found themselves on the wrong side of a 4-1 game.
Chris Brown relieved Mitchell for Coach Ward’s Blues and promptly struck out 7 of the 10 outs he recorded, allowing an unearned run in the 7th on Jeff Ronpirin’s single to keep the Blues within striking distance at 5-1 for a late inning comeback.
Jesse Foster was absolutely dominant in his 4 innings of work for the Black Team, allowing the single run on 2 hits while striking out 3. Flame thrower, Matt Evenson entered in the 5th and looked prime to go the rest of the way, disposing of the Blues 1-2-3 in the 5th and striking out the side in the 6th. After punching out the first batter of the 7th inning, he simply lost command of the strike zone, walking the next 3 batters to load the bases. An infield single shrunk the lead to 5-2, still with the bases chocked full of Blues.
Cody Sheffield then entered for Evenson and walked a run in to put the tying run at 2nd base and the go ahead run on 1st. Joey Stringfellow spelled Sheffield and faced David Levy in a do or die situation. There would be no more drama, however, as Stringfellow induced a harmless ground ball to third base to end the game at 5-3 and give the Black Squad a 2-0 lead in the Black & Blue Series.