report by Kal Dimitrov
Both Sidewinders and Hawks came to play this rescheduled game with an eye on the upcoming playoffs. Sidewinders were already assured a spot, but had a chance to move ahead of the Spitfires in the table, while Hawks needed the win to pull away from the Richmond Dragons and possibly the Kent Mariners.
The first three innings were completely dominated by pitching and remained scoreless. Tadaaki of the Sidewinders was changing speeds and locating his pitches masterfully to jam hitters and induce easy plays for his defence, while Nick Russell for the Hawks had his two-seam fastball dancing around in a way that baffled the somewhat overeager Sidewinders.
The game started breaking open when batters found their timing, but there were few occasions for a big inning for either team. Sidewinders eventually managed to build a lead of 4 runs to 2 into the seventh, but Hawks came back to tie, with only the slightly lackadaisical attitude of Kal Dimitrov on third base preventing him from scoring the go-ahead run on a throw down to second by the catcher.
In the eighth, with the game tied, Sidewinders made a pitching change that proved decisive – it resulted in 5 strikeouts and a ground-out, while in the bottom of the eight they manufactured a run that proved to be the winning one.
The win takes Sidewinders above the Spitfires, while the loss ensures that Hawks can only reach sixth place in the table. Still, they have every chance of making the playoffs, as the Richmond Dragons have played all their games and Hawks have a double-header against Kent left, and even if tied, head-to-head will come into play (in their games against Richmond, Hawks won the first one 13 to 8 and lost the second one 11-9). The other possible contenders are Kent, who need to win all their four remaining games to tie with the Hawks. So, everything to play for on August 18.