Barnburner! Senate teams bring the bats back from recess

Whether a long layoff helps or hurts a team is a point of perennial playoff pontification across all four major sports. We won’t waste too much ink on it here — except to say that no Senate Softball League bats looked too cold following the Fourth of July recess.

At least, not initially. In a Monday-evening affair pitting Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-Ohio) Blue Collars against Sen. Ted Kaufman’s (D-Del.) Chosen Ones, things sure started off with a bang — or, more accurately, with lots and lots of pings.

And talk about a game of swings. This one had more ups and downs than a weekend with Amy Winehouse.

The first inning set the tone, with Brown’s side one-upping the visitors, who’d plated three in their half. Keyed by the first of shortstop Scott Levin’s three inside-the-park home runs, the Collars struck for four and grabbed the lead.

They’d also unwittingly initiated a fine game of leapfrog. Following a quick pair of outs to start the second, Kaufman’s crew scratched out three consecutive singles to set the table for Aaron Ellias’s smash to the gap in right-center. The Chosen Ones’ left/center man appeared to run through the sign from his third-base coach en route to what one breathless teammate hailed as a “GRRRAND SALAMI!” A triple, single and double later and the Delaware destroyers were up again, 8-4.

Which is where things got downright spooky. After the bottom third of their order recorded two quick outs, the Blue Collars rallied their way to — you guessed it — a five-spot of their own. Here again Levin led the charge, followed up by Jonas Singer’s moon-shot out of the park to right. Kids, oil up the seesaw — we got us a battle!

... Though it would prove no longer to be a slugfest. Things quieted down in the middle frames, with both teams’ lumber (er, metallic alloy) falling oddly silent. For their part, Kaufman’s charges hit safely just once in the fourth and managed only a swinging bunt in the fifth, failing to score in either inning.

They did, however, push across three runs in the top of the sixth (thanks largely to clutch right fielder Matt McMillan’s two-out, two-RBI dinger), drawing even with the Collars at 13 apiece. You started to get the feeling that whichever team broke the deadlock would prevail in this one.

Unfortunately for the Chosen Ones, that would be the Blue Collars, who broke out for five in the last of the sixth. Facing a suddenly massive-seeming deficit, the Delawareans could muster only hard-hit at-’em balls in their final turn at the dish. They fall to 1-4 on the season; the Blue Collars improve to 4-0.

Player of the week

That the Blue Collars were able to escape this contest having conceded only 13 runs is testament to the defensive abilities of one Jonas Singer, whose prowess in left-center is nothing shy of Gold Glove-caliber. Sure, his counterpart in right, Zach Gwin, may have made the flashier plays (he twice slid to rob Chosen Ones of extra-base hits), but Singer’s unbelievable range prevented his having to leave his feet in the first place. Said a Chosen One after the game — which, fittingly enough, Singer ended with a smooth back-pedaling snag — “We just can’t hit it over that guy’s head.”

Did we mention that Singer also hit two homers, both of them absolute bombs that cleared the fence in right field? He didn’t have many runners to clean up (the man ahead of him in the order, Levin, took care of that, going 4-for-4 with an eye-popping seven batted in), but still — here’s to doing it with the glove and the bat.