As has been the tradition at Chattahoochee Valley since the fall of 2005, Pirates split the squads in half with the assistant coaches squaring off against one another in the annual Black and Blue Series that concludes the Pirates’ fall practice. On the line is a steak dinner versus a hot dog dinner at the Pirates Christmas Awards dinner. In a best of 3 series, Coach Dash O’Neill’s black team defeated Coach Martin Castro’s blue squad in a winner take all game 3 to capture his second consecutive Black and Blue title.
Game 1 was a last inning comeback classic by Coach Castro’s Blue Squad. After falling behind 3-0 in the first inning, it appeared that Black Starter Dalton Rentz had all of the runs he needed to secure the series opening win. However, Blue starter, Dylan Lee settled in after surrendering the 3 unearned runs and went into shutdown mode through 5 innings.
Meanwhile, with Rentz cruising, the Blue team rallied in the 4th to tie the score at 3 apiece, with back to back singles by James Cunningham and Jeff Ronprin to start the inning followed by a walk to John Holland to load the bases with none out. Sam Knight promptly smoked a double in the right centerfield gap for a bases clearing double.
The game remained knotted at 3 for the next three innings as Rentz was removed after 5 innings in favor of Hunter Mitchell who tossed a perfect 6th, while Oz Ozley did the same for Team Blue.
However, command issues coupled with a leadoff error, was the undoing for Mitchell in the top of the 7th, as Grayson Ivey, who reached on a fielders choice, eventually scored the go ahead run on a bases loaded walk to Cody Sheffield to put the Blue team up 4-3.
Chris Brown tossed a clean 7th for the save and 1-0 series lead for the Fighting Castros.
Game 2 provided some nice extra inning drama in a game that seemed to be the series clincher for Team Blue. Team Black, once again, jumped on top early with a pair of unearned runs off of starter Matty Evenson, with Kendall Ford delivering a huge 2 out hit.
While Kevin Moore cruised through the first 2 innings for Team Black, Ben Williams got the Blues on the board with a 2 out RBI single of his own in the third and Frank “The Tank” Wager hit a mammoth homerun deep into the right field parking lot in the 4th inning to put Blue on top 3-2.
Black came right back, scoring in their half of the fourth, on another RBI single by Ford to knot the game at 3 and took the lead in the 5th on Jake Maziar’s RBI double to put the Blacks ahead 4-3.
Payne Kosobucki went into shutdown mode in the 5th and 6th, but surrendered the lead in the 7th on a lead off walk to Wager, a single to Jeff Ronpirin, and the go ahead 2 run double by John Holland to turn the ball over to Chris Brown in the 7th.
With 2 outs, the lead, and a runner on third, a passed ball scored the tying run for Black setting up the extra inning win, as Tim Kennedy delivered a 2 out walk off single in the bottom of the 10th to secure the come from behind 5-4 win to even the series at 1-1.
Game 3 was very anticlimatic, as ace, Dalton Rentz was simply dominant during his 5 innings of work, allowing only 2 hits, while striking out 6.
The Black team got going early, scoring 2 in the first on a Cam Sperry double. Although, the Blue team closed the gap to 2-1 temporarily on Holland’s RBI double in the third, the Black team simply was too much for the Blue bullpen, as the Fighting O’Neills scored twice in the 5th, once in the 6th, and two more in the 7th to put the game comfortably away for Black with a 7-1 lead.
For added insurance, Trevor Kieboom led off the ninth with a triple and later scored on an RBI ground out by Jake Maziar to put the final tally at 8-1 Black Team.
Kevin Moore pitched the final four frames for Coach O’Neill, allowing only a single hit with 3 punchouts for the 4 inning series clinching save.
Utility man, Drew Dunagan was named Series MVP, hitting .444 during the series and reaching base at least 3 times in each game.
Coach O’Neill had this to say on his Black and Blue series win, “I just want to go out there and give everything I’ve got, and Good Lord willing, things will work out. Write that down. I know it’s boring, that’s the point.”
The Pirates will now enter the off season of speedwork and CrossFit until Christmas break.