It was a brutal, stifling hot day at Washington Lake Park. Or as Charlie Manual might say, "hittin' weather."
And indeed the Washington Township Senators did hit, collecting 21 of them to go with 14 runs and a 14-2 decision over the visiting Cheltenham Reds. Chris Johannes picked up the victory with three innings of solid relief, and Bobby Wood picked up four RBI to key the offense.
Senators ace John DiPietro and Reds stellar right hander Bob Creedon squared off in the 90-degree heat, and for two innings, nobody blinked. In the third, it was the Reds who drew first blood.
John Mendenhall reached on an infield error and Phil Reilly got a one-out single. DiPietro fanned Malcolm Ford looking for the second out, but Creedon's single to center loaded the bases, and DiPietro plunked the speedy Larry Boreali to force in the game's first run. Greg Kalescky's FC grounder to short ended the threat.
The Senators got even in the bottom of the inning. Gabe Mastrangelo roped a one-out single, and Frank Rose singled into the gap into right center to send Mastrangelo to third. Unfortunately, Mastrangelo came up lame with bruised heel on the play, and he was done for the rest of the day. Fortunately, Johannes delivered a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game.
Little did anyone guess that this would be the start of six consecutive innings in which the Senators would score.
In the fourth, Mark Alessandrini banged a one-out single and stole second, and Dan Laudsio did the same as Alessandrini cruised into third. Miles Reader chipped an RBI single to left, but Creedon got Hector Colon on a pop to short and Bobby Wood on a fly to center to keep the damage to a minimum.
The Reds tied it in the top of the fifth off Johannes, who relieved DiPietro to start the frame. Mike Ehrmann drew a lead-off walk, and Mendenall attemped a sacrifice. He got a bonus, when a wild throw at first placed runners on second and third with no outs. Tom Bohl's grounder to second produced a run, but Johannes would permit nothing further despite a walk to Mike DePaul. He fanned Ford and got the tough Creedon on a grounder to second to preserve the tie.
But alas, the gritty Creedon began to wilt a little in the heat, as the Senators collected two more runs in the bottom of the inning.
Jim Toth singled to start the rally, and Rose added a one-out single. Johannes grounded into a FC at second, and courtesy runner Mike Fanelli stole second. On the throw down, the ball sailed into center field and Toth trotted home with the Senators third run. Billy Trotman then piled on with an RBI single. But that was all the Senators could push across.
It was crooked number time for the Senators in the sixth, and there would be plenty more of that to come.
Alessandrini led off with a walk, and after consecutive FC grounders, Colon delivered an RBI single and stole second, and Wood smacked a two-run single and stole second. After Creedon hit Toth with a pitch, he yielded to Tom Wilmer, who got the final out as Fanelli flew to left.
In the seventh, Wilmer's control brought the Reds grief. Kurt Ley walked with one-out, and Alessandrini singled. Laudisio walked to load the bags, but the Reds got an out at the plate as Reader's grounder to third was converted. But Wilmer walked Colon to plate a run, and for the second consecutive inning, Wood came up with a two-run single with two out to give the Senators a healthy 11-2 buffer.
Angel Rivera took the mound in the eighth, and he kept the Reds off the board despite allowing a couple of base runners. And the Nats went to work closing it out in the bottom of the inning.
Johannes got a one-out single and moved up a base on an errant pick-off attempt. Trotman popped out in foul territory at third for the second out, but the Senators once again got the two-outs runs.
Rivera, Ley, Alessandrini and Laudisio each singled, and the three runs they pushed across ended the contest via the mercy rule.
Both Alessandrini and Laudisio collected three hits and reached base four times. Rivera, Wood, Rose, Colon and Trotman all had two hits, and Wood's four RBIs led the way. The Reds got a pair of hits out of Creedon, who tossed almost six innings and threw 106 pitches in the crazy heat. The guy even warmed up Wilmer between innings, which was what we call above and beyond the call of duty on a day like that.
Next up: the Senators face old buddy Dave Keen and his South Jersey Pirates at Washington Lake Park on Wednesday night. The Senators and Marlins sit apot the 45+ division with identical 11-3 records, with the Marlins holding all tie-breakers. So every game counts now.
Notes: Despite the lop-sided score on this hot day, the Reds look like a nice baseball team. They play the game with respect and know what they are doing. Add another pitcher and a bat or two and they could be right in the hunt next year...DiPietro looked pretty good in his return from elbow issues (a strain and an infection). He should be ready to rumble come August...And more good Senator news: Nat clean-up hitter Frank Izzi reported he is "feeling better". Izzi thinks he should be ready to rake come playoff time, and this is NOT good news for the rest of the division...the Senators got 21 hits in the contest, the most they've managed all year long. Could it be they are getting hot at the right time? We shall see.