Dodgers out of over-40 baseball playoffs
It looked to be a meaningless play in a lopsided game. But it ultimately kept the defending champion Pirates alive in the eastern Baltimore County Over-40 League playoffs.
The Cubs led the Pirates 9-1 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and a runner on second. Dale Hunter singled to left field, and Pirates leftfielder Feio Francis threw to catcher Marc Killingstad to nail the runner at the plate for the final out.
The game ended three batters later as the Cubs clinched a spot in the league semifinals with a 9-1 win.
But that out at the plate also earned the Pirates a spot in the semifinals.
The Royals, Rays and Cubs all advanced to the semifinals by winning their respective groups with a 3-0 record. The fourth spot was filled by the team with the next-best record.
The Pirates, Dodgers and Diamondbacks all finished 2-1 in group play. The first tiebreaker was fewest runs allowed. The Dodgers, who lost to the Royals on Sunday 17-8, gave up 28 runs while the Pirates and the Diamondbacks each allowed 20.
The next tiebreaker was margin of victory. The Pirates were +18, the Diamondbacks were +15.
So the top-seeded Rays will host the Pirates on Sunday at the Post 38 field in one semifinal, while the second-seeded Cubs will host the Royals at CCBC Dundalk.
Had that run not been thrown out at the plate against the Cubs, the Pirates would have allowed 21 runs and the Diamondbacks would be advancing to the semifinals.
“All we want is another chance,” Pirates manager Mickey Kocur said.
(The Diamondbacks beat the Giants on Sunday 21-4. Had the Diamondbacks won 4-3, they would be advancing.)
The Dodgers’ loss to the Royals means the team will not appear in the Over-40 League championship game for the first time in the history of the league (which began in 2010).
The Rays, which beat the Astros 18-2 on Sunday, allowed only seven runs in their three group games. The Cubs allowed eight.
Counting the regular season, the Rays are 11-1-1 overall, while the Cubs are 9-3. The Royals are 9-3 and the Pirates are 8-4.
The loss to the Royals was the first of the season for the Dodgers, who finished 9-1-1.
“The Royals outplayed and outhustled and outsmarted us,” said Dodgers manager Tony Ranocchia. “We made 11 errors.”
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against the Pirates and led 3-1 after five innings.
Dave Hoyle led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a walk, was bunted to second by Scott Palmerino and scored (or rather, his pinch-runner scored) on a double by Mike Samuels.
It was the third double of the game for Samuels.
The Cubs put the game away in the bottom of the eighth inning with five more runs.
Hoyle had an RBI single, Scott Palmerino knocked in a run with a double and Chris Mirabile’s sacrifice fly made it 7-1.
Mark Palmerino ended the scoring with a two-run single to left field.
Mark Palmerino started on the mound for the Cubs and held the Pirates to one run on three hits in five innings.
The Pirates had five hits for the game, all singles. Dave Cundiff pitched the last four innings for the Cubs.
The Cubs defense turned three double plays.
“Palmerino threw real well today,” Cubs manager Todd Knudsen said. “Pitching and defense have been doing it for us.”
Dave Hoyle of the Cubs singles during the 9-1 win over the Pirates.
Piratres first baseman Mike Miller stumbles over Cubs baserunner Rich Dorn during a pickoff play.
Had Pirates catcher Marc Killingstad missed this tag on Cubs baserunner Todd Knudsen, the Pirates would not be advancing to the Over-40 League semifinals despite losing to the Cubs 9-1.
Pirates leftfielder Feio Francis snags a fly ball in a light rain during the loss to the Cubs on Sunday. Francis threw out a runner at the plate to help keep the Pirates alive in the playoffs.