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Last updated
05-17-15 11:41 PM
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Gold Country Buzzards
Dan Wukmir
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1306 Gold Pan Drive
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Saturday, May 9

 

The following is the tribute to David Kelley that was printed with two touching photos and distributed at his Celebration of Life on Saturday, May 9th, on the Buzzards home baseball field in Auburn.  Lots of family, co-workers, friends, teammates, former teammates and opponents came together on a nice afternoon for fellowship and sharing memories of Dave.  

Gold Country Kelley

May 4, 1957 - April 29, 2015

David Kelley the father of gold country baseball David Kelley was Mr. Baseball to adult hardball in the region. His regular baseball team, the Gold Country Buzzards, was staggered by the news, but has recovered enough to put together some interesting information about Gold Country Kelley from our perspective and expressed to us from other baseball friends of Dave.

The baseball community and ball players from the Sierra foothills, the Sacramento flatlands and around the world have expressed their deepest sympathy to the Kelley Family for their difficult loss and to the Gold Country Buzzards team for losing a great teammate and long-time friend. David Kelley meant a lot to many people locally and internationally. He used baseball as the entree to meet many, soon to be friends, in wonderful places around the world including the Gold Country of California.

David may have worked long and hard for that fine company, Pacific Gas and Electric, but he really just pretended to be interested in engineering and construction. He loved to talk, think and play baseball and plan the next international baseball trip.

David was known locally as a passionate baseball promoter and skilled player. There were many condolences with comments received from locals that said how his passion for adult baseball is what got them interested in playing again. And how they really appreciated him for bringing the enjoyment of playing baseball back into their lives. Baseball teammates begat baseball friendships, which became lasting friendships, and enriched many lives in exponential ways - thanks to 'Dive', which is Dave in Aussie speak.

Besides being a player for a mind-numbing number of teams, David was the founder and a manager of the Gold Country League at the start of this century. The older ballers in that league, with David as a founding father, eventually formed the current old man’s team, the Gold Country Buzzards. Also, affectionately known as the Ol' Buzzards, Dave was the original manager in 2006. The team plays on Sundays in the 52-years old and over division in the National Adult Baseball Association. Home games are played at James Field in Auburn, not far from his house. With David playing on the team, the Ol' Buzzards have won the Sacramento NABA championship the last two years, 2013 and 2014.

Dave took the Buzzards to Sydney, Australia in 2009 to attend the World Masters’ Games for the top highlight of the team. David organized the local team together, added some Canadian and Australian all-stars plus a smiley cop from Chicago to the squad, to create a formidable flock of Buzzards. That team went 10-0 during the tournament in November 2009, early Spring down-under, and brought home a special gold medal and terrific memories, along with lasting Aussie and Canadian friendships.

Ironically, Dave did not come back with the cherished gold medal. Dive wanted to play with the Australian guys he had played with before, the famous Downunders, for their last tourney. The D Unders are the fun-nest bunch of interesting older mates, but were not likely to win a medal. That team actually did remarkably well with David's bat and glove leading the way, but lost in the bronze-medal game. To David, he got the important win, a deeper friendship and the best of times with his Aussie buddies.

David and the D Unders go back to 2002, and he had lots of good times, baseball and otherwise, including many other medals with his favorite Aussie Mates. Yet, David smiled, proud as a papa, when the National Anthem was played and the Buzzards had gold medals hanging from their necks at Blacktown Olympic Park, the same site of the American gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Baseball International was Dave's biggest baseball joy. Through fund raising tournaments played in the USA and private donations, Baseball International sponsors baseball exhibitions in foreign countries and brings new equipment along for the kids. They play in 3 or 4 cities per trip, passing out baseball gear as they go. David was always encouraging ballplayers to go on a Baseball International trip. Fun and rewarding.

David loved to play baseball so much, and wanted to play in Auburn in a weeknight recreation league, so he formed one. Then he devised a way for a small group of guys, like six, to form a team and play baseball in this league. He invented a fun game that would have three teams playing each other, spreading out pitchers and catchers amongst teams. Then spreading players in an organized fashion amongst teams during a game, so everyone played a lot and no one team lost. This only lasted a while, but it was interesting and fun, and got some guys to join the adult baseball league.

David, the Auburn boy, played baseball on a lot of local youth and adult teams and is well-known and respected around the region. However, David is even more renowned internationally and was a big wig in the baseball hierarchy of the enormous World Masters' Games (over 28,000 participants in Sydney in nearly every Olympic sporting event in multiple age groups) with the next huge, every-four-year event, in Auckland, New Zealand in 2017. David would often say to the Buzzards and others, plan for the WMG on April 21 - 30 in New Zealand in '17. The Buzzards will be going to the world tournament in Kiwi Land in 2017 and DK will be there also.

David played ball in many parts of the world, but by far his favorite was Australia. He did warn us, before the Buzzards went, that Australia is addicting, and you can't just go once, or twice, or in Dive's case, eight times. The land is amazing, the animals are all different, the Great Barrier Reef is famous for lots of reasons, and the people are fabulous. They speak a funny, some say cute, version of the English language and are very easy to fall in love with. David played last Fall in the Pan-Pacific Games on the Gold Coast in the Land of Oz with close Australian and American baseball friends, again.

The tears from Australia poured out early and often after the sad news. There were lots of caring messages and questions and deepest, heart-felt sympathies to the Kelley Family. They have sent flowers, notes and remembrances that have brought more tears to the eyes. They love to brag about David and how many times they have played with him, or he stayed at their house, or he knew more about Australia than most Aussies, or about their interesting travels and tournaments, and on and on. So cool.

David made quite an impression in the land down-under. On Friday, the 8th, Dave's Aussie teammates organized a memorial gathering at the Knox Baseball Club, in a suburb of Melbourne. They said the turn-out was amazing with lots of good stories and Tinnys (cans of beer) rose in Dave's honor.

One noteworthy story that shows his caring and that only DK would think to do. On these International Baseball trips he would get carried away in the giving department. Besides the baseball gear intended to be given, David also gave away his stuff to those in need. One time, reported by teammate Mike Radey, Dave was traveling back on the bus from a tourney site, shivering in his seat, while wearing close to nothing, just his sliding shorts and undershirt. Even his shoes and socks were given away, besides his baseball gear. Wow! Now that's the David Kelley that we know and will miss so much, and actually - so will Baseball International.

It is easy to tell that David was addicted to baseball. There are worse addictions than the National Pastime, but David was afflicted bad with the baseball juju. He just could not get enough of it. We all benefitted from him immeasurably with the leagues and teams he formed, both locally and on the international stage. David talked many into playing baseball overseas with travel to cool places and combine site-seeing with a baseball tournament. He even talked wives or girlfriends into letting us go or coming along. That organization and salesmanship will really be missed.

Being a non-stop baseball promoter and prolific player was a great joy in his life. And he shared that joy with so many others. He always wanted to talk about baseball and was always excited when someone new joined the baseball team or league.

David played in too many places to remember. He was in Antigua earlier this year, and played in Aussie Land and Florida late last year. He played in Cuba a couple of years ago, loved it and was pushing for a return trip next year. Kelley’s baseball focused passport also had stamps from Canada, Hungary, India, Italy, and Russia.

The Gold Country Buzzards were as stunned as everyone else to hear the sad news. A couple of the guys had lunch with David the previous day and commented on how good he looked and how he was looking forward to getting better, and back on the field. We are still shaken, lost our focus at the first game since his passing, but have dedicated this season to him, as the special teammate and friend he was to us. Because David wore several numbers as an Ol' Buzzard, we will wear a black DK patch on the uniforms.

After seeing many of the comments and remembrances from around the globe for David, it made the Buzzards realize how lucky we were to be able to call him a teammate on a regular basis. He was a very special man.

The Ol' Buzzards held a nice memorial to David prior to last Sunday's game in Davis. After many kind words were said, the bagpiper came onto the infield playing Amazing Grace. The tune filled the air as the ball players from both teams circled the mound and tried to hold back tears. The touching song was followed by a long moment of silence, and then followed by a 'Thank You David'.

We will miss him dearly and cherish his memories until we meet again on the heavenly baseball fields. Probably in a league formed by Dave.

 



Sunday, May 3

Gold Country Ol' Buzzards Game Report #6

Game: May 3, 2015

Teary-eyed Buzzards stumble against Rays, 11-10

With David Kelley in our mind and hearts, getting together to talk and play in his honor was easy and helpful. The hard part was playing focused baseball, as the Buzzards were not sharp on a nice, but breezy afternoon in Davis. The pre-game memorial service for DK was well done and touching. Pete said lots of wonderful things about David as both teams gathered around the mound. Then Hayden Tucker, stepped onto the field with his bagpipes and played a touching rendition of Amazing Grace, followed by a long moment of silence. Tough way to start a game.

At Playfields Park where the mound is flatting-out, the starting pitcher for the visiting Gold Country Buzzards was the crafty right-hander, Rick 'Salmo' Salmeri #6. Taking the mound for the new NABA 42+ team in snazzy teal blue and white uniforms was 57 year old righty, Luis 'Stylin' Hernandez #53.

The Buzzards hopped on the scoreboard first with two runs in the top of the second. Tom 'Tomahawk' Keatley opened the inning with a nice liner into the right-center field gap for a double. Up next, Jim 'Milli' Milligan popped-up a 'sun ball' that landed next to the first baseman to put runners at first and second. Barry 'Brooklyn' Forman followed with a drag bunt that looked good, but was called out by the home plate umpire for being out of the batter's box at contact. It's a pretty rare call because it is really hard to be at the back of the batter's box and move-up out of the front of the box while a fastball is coming at ya. Barry is not that fast in his dreams and the call was the first of several bad calls at key times.

The runners then moved up on separate stolen bases before Mike 'Mickey' Wilson was hit by a pitch on the side of the chest, ouch, to load the bases. Later with two outs and the top of the order up, Kevin 'Flash' Krantz launched a sky ball to right field that found the precise sun-angle to throw painful sunrays into the right-fielders eyes for the temporary blindness effect necessary for the ball to hit the fielder and miss the glove. Two runs scored on the play to give the Buzzards an early lead.

The Rays stormed back with five runs in their half of the second dig. The inning did not start well with Salmo getting ahead in the count and the ump would squeeze the strike zone. The Rays took advantage and hit the 'down the middle' strikes for five solid hits plus a walk and a valiant try in left-field of a sinking flare by a sliding Mickey. The score after two was 5-2 Rays.

The Buzzards put one on the board in the third. Dan 'Wookie' Wukmir led-off with a two-strike flare to right-field. Wookie was thrown out trying to steal second base on a close play with a hook slide and an ump out of position to make a correct call. Of course, Dave 'Evy' Everingham followed with a deep double to right-center field. Later with two outs, clutch Tomahawk singled in Evy with a liner to right. The Rays answered with a run in the bottom of the third. The pattern continued with Salmo getting ahead in the count with two strikes, then the strike zone becoming the size of a child's shoe box. Three hits and a walk resulted in the run to make the score Rays 6 - Buzzards 3.

The Ol' Buzzard manager let the pattern go on too long as Salmo and the home plate umpire just were not working on the same wave-length. The pitches that the Rays' hurlers were getting, were not going the other way for the Buzzards. In the fourth frame, the calls continued to get even worse and the Buzzards became distracted and not play sharp baseball.

The Rays put four runs in the scorebook on four hits and a bad hop infield error. The score after just four innings of play was 10-3 Rays.

The Buzzards added a run in the fifth frame. With one out Evy ripped a singled to right-field. Up next, Mark 'Thunder' Weathers walked. After two were out, Milli drove a liner into left-center for a run-scoring single.

The Buzzards changed pitchers in the fifth and brought in the veteran righty, Gregg 'Surf Dawg' Novotny #1. The pitching change was made earlier than planned, hoping to get off of the umps wrong wave-length and start getting some calls.

The Rays also scored a run in the their fifth inning after two were out. A flare single, walk and a looping single scored the lone run. The Rays were now ahead 11-4 after five innings.

The fightin' Buzzards jumped back into the game with three runs in the sixth. After one out, Salmo got on base when the third baseman bobbled the smash. Under a surgical dentist's orders or was that a suggestion, not-to-play, Pete 'Baron' Von Zboray was added to the batting order. The Baron then crushed the ball to deep, deep left-field where the fielder made a stupendous and crappy catch for the second out of the dig. Batting next, Flash sliced a single to right-field to put two runners on. Wookie, up next, walked to load the bases. Evy followed by picking on the third baseman again in this inning to score a run and leave the bases full for the clean-up batter. Thunder then proceed to clean two bases of runners with his patented sizzler to right-center field to tighten the score at 11-7.

The pitching change seemed to work and Surf Dawg was getting better calls from the plate ump, only to be burned later by the field umpire, Jimmy. Jimmy is high on the umpiring food chain and the scheduler of officials, and needs glasses. Surf Dawg held the Rays scoreless from the sixth inning on, allowing the Buzzards to play catch up.

With time running out, it appeared the eighth inning was going to be the Buzzards last opportunity to score runs. Salmo led-off with a well-earned walk. The Baron, batting next, hit a sinking looper to left-field. The young fielder charged, dove at the grass, appeared to trap the ball at best, then laid in a crumpled heap on the ground momentarily, while the infield dumb-pire appeared to freeze. Salmo was screaming at the ump to make a call, as he was hung-up between first and second base on the play. The ump claimed later to have signaled 'out' with his fist out in front (hidden from Buzzards view), so the Rays had plenty of time to throw over to first to double-up Salmo and put two controversial 'outs' in the books.

The Buzzards were short-handed players, and it took a lot of restraint by some of the hopping mad Ol' Buzzards to not get kicked-out of this game, right about now. With the yelling stopped and the bases empty, Flash re-started the rally with a smash to left for a single. Wookie followed with a sharp grounder through the middle for a single. Flash took third on the hit with the outfielder's throw on the play, way too late, but it did allow Wook to advance to second. Evy then hit a flare for a single to right-center to score Flash and Wookie. Evy moved to second on the play at home. Thunder, looking to make some more noise with the bats, knocked in Evy with a frozen-rope to right-field to make the score an exciting 11-10.

Up next, Tomahawk hit a line-drive single to right to put two runners on with two outs, still, and the line continuing to move. The game tension was high with 'hot bat' Milli at the plate. The long at-bat led to a walk on a full-count with ball four too high and inside to swing at. The bases were now loaded for Brooklyn, fresh off of the DL and playing with a hurt something nearly everywhere, but loving it. Barry was quickly ahead 3-0 and taking pitches like a good teammate, but suddenly the strike zone was accommodating the next two 'off-the-mark' pitches. At 3-2, it was a tough situation with a hard-thrower. Casey swung and missed at the next high-heater to put another 'downer' on the day.

The end result of the game sucked, but the unrelenting nature of the Buzzards, when down by seven after five in an eight-inning game, was impressive. The last six runs were scored off of their hard-throwing closer, big righty Frank 'Highball' Costa #22. The Rays got lucky this time. The Buzzards were about to steal this game, but the umps prevented a fabulous comeback. Next time will be different, which is: July 12th at James Field at 2 pm.

Buzzard pitching was solid. The home plate ump, though, not so good. The Rays were tough to defend in the outfield for this game with four long doubles and six short flare singles. Salmo pitched four innings and faced 26 Rays in throwing 92 pitches (74 strikes & 28 balls). The Rays banged out 12 hits in scoring 10 runs (4 earned) with two walks and two strike-outs in those four long innings. The Buzzards gave up three errors in those four frames. Surf Dawg pitched the last four innings and faced 18 Rays in throwing 66 pitches (38 strikes & 28 balls). Gregg gave up one run on four hits with two walks, one hit-batsman, and one strike-out.

The Buzzard offense banged out 16 hits, but came up short a key hit several times in the game. The hit club for the game included: Brooklyn, Evy-3, Flash-3, Milli-2, Thunder-2, Tomahawk-3, and Wookie-2. Two doubles were slugged by: Keatley (in the 2nd) and Everingham (in the 3rd). The runs were scored by: Evy-3, Flash-2, Milli, Salmo, Tomahawk, and Wook-2. The RBIs were knocked in by: Evy-3, Flash-2, Milli, Thunder-3, and Tomahawk. The four eagle-eyed Buzzard walkers were: Milli, Salmo, Thunder and Wook.

The defense made lots of good plays and some tough plays, but the D was not as sharp as usual. There was only one double play. In the seventh, the Rays were in position to score again with a runner at third and one out with the top of the order coming up. The batter then hit a line-drive to center. Flash, playing deep, charged the liner, snagged it at chest level, and threw a long bullet to Milli. The runner got a good jump, but the throw was on the money, as both came together with Milli looking to make a tag. The collision created a cloud of dust and Milli went rolling backwards, but held onto the ball for the important out and prevent a run.

The game had plenty of high-lights and more low-lights than usual. The ballgame did not come off as planned. We'll chalk it up to the Ol' Buzzards being partially distracted and carrying that lingering tune of Amazing Grace with a heavy heart.

Buzzard Note #1: The Celebration of the Life of David Kelley will be this Saturday, May 9th, at 2 pm on James Field. Buzzards are asked to wear their jerseys.

Buzzard Note #2: There is no game next Sunday on Mother's Day, May 10th. Next game is May 17th at James Field at 2 pm versus the undefeated Colt .45s. There is no game on May 24th with the Memorial Day weekend.

Buzzard Note #3: The Radio Game is next month on June 7th.  Circle that date and invite the family.



Sunday, April 26

Gold Country Ol' Buzzards Game Report #5

Game: April 26, 2015

Ol' Buzzards pounce on young Miners, 12-8

In the ol' days, a Gold Country match-up of the Miners and the Buzzards usually meant the Buzzards returned home with clipped wings or a singed tail. The Buzzies would play well, but the Miners would prevail. They won the 38+ division and were a hard to beat team in the Buzzards' early years. However, the Buzzards gained the upper hand in the rivalry recently and have not lost to the Miners since 2009. This season, the Buzzards will be playing the Miners twice, but in previous years the teams have met usually just annually. Since 2010, that annual Gold Country match has been broadcast live on radio station KAHI.

With temperatures comfortably in the high 60s for the 2 o'clock game at James Field, the visiting Miners' starting pitcher was their new righty, Brett 'Jester' McCourt #2. On the mound for the Buzzards was the crafty right-hander, Rick 'Salmo' Salmeri #6.

The game started 15 minutes late due to the previous MSBL game delayed by 40 minutes due to the wet field conditions caused by that rare weather phenomenon called rain. Johnny V, the Miners' catcher, started the game with a walk. After stealing second on a close play, he advanced to third on an infield ground-out. The clean-up batter then hit a tough grounder that was fielded cleanly and thrown out on a close play by a strong throw from short. And a base dancing, Johnny V, was left stranded at third.

That was pretty much the theme of the game as the Miners got 15 hits in the eight-inning affair, and stranded 11 runners as the Buzzards came up with sparkling defense in many two-out and runners-on situations. The Gold Country ol' boys made the plays and left many younger boys on the base paths as the third-out was registered. The Buzzards jumped on the scoreboard first with three runs in their first at-bat. Kevin 'Flash' Krantz opened the inning with a walk on five pitches. Before pitching to the next batter, Jester, used his rusty pick-off move to try to get Flash at first. The quick throw missed its target and bounced away from the first baseman. Flash advanced to second quickly, but sprained one of his wheels back at first base. Dan 'Wookie' Wukmir then walked on a long nine-pitch at-bat. Next, Dave 'Evy' Everingham got to first on an infield error. A potential double play throw was mishandled by the second baseman as a hustlin' Wook was sliding into the bag as he was trying to make the play.

With the bases loaded on the dropped ball, the team's RBI leader, Mark 'Thunder' Weathers, came to the plate and walked on a full-count to push in Flash with the first run of the game. Batting next, Pete 'Baron' Von Zboray bounced into a fielder's choice to score Wookie. With one out, Tom 'Tomahawk' Keatley got to first base via an error by Alton 'Alice' Cooper at third. Jim 'Milli' Milligan followed with a smash into left-field for a single to score Evy. The inning ended with the bases full of Buzzards, but the Miners made the plays to shut the inning down with just three runs scored.

The Miners stormed back with two two-out runs to make the game close. The key play was ruled a two-run error, but was noteworthy for its efforts. Mike 'Mickey' Wilson, playing right-field, charged a sinking liner and dove to get the ball into his glove. However, in the side-ways roll-over, the ball came out of the leather and was lying right behind Mickey. In the haste to make a throw to the charging second baseman for the relay throw, Mickey, still on his ass in high clover, launched an air mail delivery to no-man's land toward the opponent's dugout. Almost a great play, but two runs scored and the batter, Jester, was especially thankful because the score was now 3-2 Buzzards.

The Buzzards tacked on one run in the second dig. Flash ripped a single to right on a 2-2 pitch as the lead-off hitter. Flash stole second before Evy walked on a 3-2 count with one out. After a fielder's choice, the Baron was at the plate with two-outs and runners at the corners. On a wild pitch, Flash, got a good jump and zipped across the plate from third for a vital run. The Baron then took a six-pitch pass to first base before the inning ended with the score 4-2 Buzzards.

In the third inning, the clutch Buzzards put another crooked number in the score book with all three runs scoring with two outs. A sizzlin' Milli started it off with a lead-off blast deep down the left-field line for a stand-up double. Up next, Kelly 'Cagey' Garcia took advantage of Jester 'just missing' again for a base-on-balls. Later with two outs and two on, Wookie fought off a 3-2 curve-ball and punched a base hit into right-center to score Cagey from second. Evy followed that with a scorcher down the left-field line to score Mickey from second. Not to be out-done, the clean-up hitter, Thunder, pulverized the Diamond brand-name on the ball and showed-off his now patented, screaming liner into right-center field, for a hit to drive in Wook and make the score 7-2 in favor of the Buzzies.

The Miners bounced-back with two runs of their own in the fourth frame on two hits, two walks and a ‘sun ball’ infield error to put the score at 7-4 Buzzards.

After not scoring in the fourth off of the new Miner hurler and quirky southpaw, Mike 'Quick Pitch' Vargas #11, the Buzzards put two runs on the scoreboard in the fifth. Wookie led-off with a spinning bloop between the pitcher and the first baseman and beat it out for an infield hit. Evy's grounder to short resulted in a throwing error to the second baseman with everyone safe and Wook moving to third on the over-throw. After a fielder's choice put runners on the corners, Thunder stole second base. With both runners in scoring position, the Baron slugged an 0-2 pitch high into the right field sky. The outfielder, playing deep, misplayed the sky ball while Wook easily scored from third. With two-outs and two-on, the Mill-machine cranked out his fourth hit of the game to knock in Thunder with a smoking line-drive to center. The score after five innings of play was Buzzards 9 - Miners 4.

The Miners fought back with four runs in the sixth to make it a squeaker. The Buzzards used Salmo a little too long and the Miners started the inning with four hits mixed in with a walk before Rick was relieved. The right-handed reliever, Gregg 'Surf Dawg' Novotny #1, took the bump with no outs, three-runs scored and a runner at second via a double. The next batter hit a short infield blooper near the line halfway between home and first. Surf Dawg tried a sliding catch, but the ball found the ground for a hit.

It appeared the 'worm may be turning' with plays going the Miner's way and now runners on first and second and still nobody was out. During the pitching change, Mickey was also called in to warm-up in the bullpen and be ready for a call-up. He was replaced in left-field by Cagey.

To prove the axiom that the ball finds the new guy, the next batter, Miners' heavy hitter, Arturo 'Buster' Castillo, then ripped a sinking liner to left. Cagey got a terrific jump on the ball and after a long run, caught it at his shoe tops. Both runners, going on the 'sure-hit', also got a good jump heading toward the next base. Both runners then went scrambling back to their bases. With a chance for a double play at second, Cagey threw to the relay man, Evy, who then threw a strike to Wookie stretched out like a first baseman to nail the runner in a close play at the bag. The runner on third scored on the double play to make the score close at 9-8 Buzzards entering the home half of the sixth inning.

The Buzzards answered back with three tough runs to get a scoreboard cushion. Mickey, playing the sinking sun angle, led-off with a 'sun ball' to left-field for a base hit. Two outs later, Evy crushed a double to left-center that scored Mick. Next, Thunder with his ramblin' speed made the shortstop rush his throw for an error that put Buzzards at the corners. Thunder stole second on a signals mix-up before the Baron walked on four pitches to load the bases. Tomahawk, on the first pitch, then knocked in two runs with a sharp single to center for the final Buzzard runs of the game.

Buzzard pitching and defense held the Miners scoreless in the last two innings, and leaving two runners stranded on-base in each frame. The seventh inning ended with one minute left on the clock, so playing the eighth inning took the game out to 3 hours and 15 minutes with the final score Buzzards 12 and the Miners 8.

Buzzard pitching withstood the barrage of Miner runners on base via 15 hits and six walks plus two errors. The lead-off batters in five of the eight innings got on base with the second batter in two other frames reaching first base. The fifth was a 1-2-3 inning. Salmo got the win and faced 31 Miners while throwing 121 pitches (78 strikes & 43 balls). Rick pitched into the sixth and gave up eight runs (four earned) on 11 hits and five walks with three strike-outs. Surf Dawg earned the save with three innings of shut-down pitching. Gregg helped wiggle the Buzzards out of that jam in the sixth and faced 13 Miners in throwing 46 pitches (31 strikes & 15 balls). Novotny gave up zero runs on four hits and one walk with two strike-outs.

The Ol' Buzzard offense got the 12 runs on 13 hits with seven walks and surprisingly eight uncharacteristic Miner errors. The members of the Buzzard hit club for the game were: Cagey, Evy (2), Flash, Mickey, Tomahawk, Thunder, Wookie (2) and the Mill-machine with four (three singles & a double). The always important ribbies were knocked in by: Baron (3), Evy (2), Milli (2), Tomahawk (2), Thunder (2) and Wook. The winning total of 12 runs were scored by: Cagey, Evy (2), Flash (2), Mickey (2), Thunder (2), and Wook (3). There were 48 Buzzard at-bats in the game. 13 hits in 48 plate appearances was enough - this time.

The Buzzard D was solid with assists and put-outs spread-out amongst most of the Defenders. There were 12 assists in getting those 24 outs. The put-outs were spread out so much that there were only five put-outs at first base.



Sunday, April 19

Gold Country Ol' Buzzards Game Report #4

Game: April 19, 2015

Ol' Buzzards defeat young Dodgers, 9-4

The Gold Country Buzzards have opened the season with four home games at James Field with one more to follow. Game four was a morning game against the younger division Dodgers. Last season the (42+) Dodgers came from behind with five runs in the last two innings to hand the Buzzards one of their two losses in the 9-7 game in June at C-Bar-C Park. This season the two divisions will play each other twice.

On a beautiful morning with temps in the 70s for the game, the 2-1 Buzzards faced the 2-1 Dodgers. The starting pitcher for the visiting Dodgers was big lefty, Phil 'Captain' Morgan #11. On the hill for the Ol' Buzzards was the crafty right-hander, Rick 'Salmo' Salmeri #6.

The Buzzards jumped on the scoreboard first with two quick runs in the first. Taylor 'Welzy' Welz led off with a smash to the left-side for an infield hit. The late throw from the third baseman went out-of-bounds to move Welzy to second. Next, Dan 'Wookie' Wukmir hit a sharp one-hopper into the hole between first and second. The first baseman got a good jump and dove to knock the ball down to keep Welzy from scoring from third. There was no play at first base as Wookie waltzed to the bag for a hit. With Dave 'Evy' Everingham at the plate, Wook stole second to put both runners in scoring position. Evy then scored Welzy with a ground-out and Wookie moved to third. Mark 'Thunder' Weathers, batting next, knocked in the run with a grounder to the right-side to make the score 2-0 Buzzards.

The Dodgers came back with one run in the top of the second with a lead-off single and a one-out double down the left-field line for a 2-1 ball game.

In the bottom half of the same inning, the Ol' Buzzards tacked-on three more big runs. Kevin 'Flash' Krantz started it off with an opening single into left field. After Flash stole second with one out and moved to third on a wild pitch, Mike 'Mickey' Wilson took first with a base-on-balls. Flash then scored on a wild pitch with Mickey moving up 90 feet. With two outs, Welzy walked on a full-count to put Buzzards on the corners. With Welzy going on the first pitch to steal second, the Dodgers had the cut-off play called in an attempt to nail the runner trying to score from third. The throw was cut-off by the shortstop in front of second base, but Mickey got a good jump from third on the play and scored on a good looking double-steal to steal the run. Wookie then wacked the next pitch on a line to center to score T-Welz from second base. The score after two digs was 5-1 Buzzards.

The Buzzard defense and pitching held the blue and red clad Dodgers to no runs for the next three innings, while the Buzzies added a nice crooked number to the scoreboard in the fourth frame. In the last inning for Captain Morgan on the mound, Mickey led-off with a line-drive single to left-field. Up next, Barry 'Crush' Forman, fresh from the disabled list, walked to put two runners on base. After a fielder's choice bunt forced Mickey at third, Crush was picked-off of second base on a terrible call by the ump.

With two outs, Wookie walked on five pitches to put runners at first and second. Evy then battled Captain Morgan deep into the count before hammering the ball down the left-field line for a two-run double. Still with two outs, Thunder came to bat and blasted a 1-1 pitch into the gap in right-center for a nice double that scored the last run of the inning. The Dodgers changed hurlers and brought in the lanky hard-throwing righty, Jim 'Pancho' Rivera #55 to stop the Buzzard scoring rally. Through four innings of play, the Buzzards were ahead 9-1.

The Dodgers were not giving up and added a run in the sixth on a single, fielder's choice, stolen base and a ground-out. The Buzzard defense was solid and the good pitching kept the Dodgers under control. Entering the seventh frame, Salmo had thrown 80 pitches and was on a nice roll, so the Buzzards stayed with the 'hot hand'. 10 pitches later and 1-2-3, the seventh was over.

The Buzzies threatened with runners on base later, but did not score after the fourth frame. The Dodgers continued to fight for runs and added another one in the eighth dig. With one out, the top of the order hitter, doubled to the fence in left-center. The next batter hit a high fly to short center with the runner going on the pitch. Flash was playing a little deep and after a long run and with the runner now passed third and heading home, Flash reached out to snag the ball in short center-field. With the runner a long ways away from second and Flash slowing down with the ball, this had the ingredients to be an easy double play.

However, Flash, taking the advice being yelled to him to 'take it easy' on the throw, subsequently flipped the ball 'but not that easy' to second base while still moving. The ball then floated toward the bag, but the speedy runner caught a huge break, as his prayers were answered when he slid safely into second. Apparently with circus music playing nearby, the Buzzards then could not finish off the Dodgers, again, on a squigglier in front of the plate. That throw hit the runner on the backside for an error with a run scoring. The ball then rolled out of play and advanced the Dodger to second base. With two outs and down by six runs, the runner on second thought he would surprise everyone by stealing third base. Well, his plan fell short as the Buzzard catcher, Jim 'Milli' Milligan, threw a strike to the bag. Wookie caught the throw and kept the glove down for the Dodger to slide into it, for the third out of the eighth inning and leaving the score at 9-3.

The Buzzards changed pitchers and brought in their tough right-handed closer, Welz #26, to finish off the game. Down to their last inning, the Dodgers opened the ninth with their lead-off batter getting on base. Gregg 'Surf Dawg' Novotny made a slick play on a hard hit bouncer at third, but the runner was save on the throw. Welzy struck-out the next batter on five pitches for the first out. Then on a two-strike pitch, the runner tried to steal second base. The batter swung and missed at strike three and the throw down from Milli to Wook at second nailed the sliding Dodger to end the game on a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play. Wow. What a great way to end a game.

The final score of the 2-hour and 35 minute, nine-inning, game was the Ol' Buzzards 9 and the younger Dodgers 4.

Buzzard pitching held the swinging Dodgers to four runs and seven hits with no walks. Salmeri pitched for eight inning and threw 103 pitches (68 strikes & 35 balls). Rick faced 31 Dodgers and gave up three runs (2 earned) on seven hits with no walks and seven strike-outs. Taylor pitched the last frame and faced only four batters in throwing 11 pitches (9 strikes & 2 balls). Welzy gave up one unearned run on no hits or walks with two strike-outs. The game was a nice pitching masterpiece with Salmo painting the plate all day and Welzy as the closer - to put away the young Dodgers on this day. Good news worth repeating, Buzzard pitching gave up zero walks in the game.

The Buzzard offense cooled off later in the game, but carried the day with nine runs on 14 hits and four walks. The hit club for the game included: the Baron, Evy (2), Flash (2), Mickey, Milli, Surf Dawg, Thunder (2), Welzy (2), and Wookie (2). The seven RBI's were knocked in by: the Baron, Evy (3), Thunder (2), and Wook. The always important runs were scored by: Evy, Flash, Mickey, Thunder, Welzy (3), and Wookie (2). The four eagle-eyed Buzzards earning a walk down the first base line were: Crush, Mickey, Welzy and Wook. The back-to-back extra base RBI blasts with two outs in the fourth were launched by Everingham and the Weatherman.

The Buzzies excelled at defense for most of the day. Of the 27 defensive outs, there were nine strike 'em outs. There were only two fly ball outs. The Baron caught a high 'can of corn' in the fifth in right and Flash's excellent long-running catch in center in the eighth was followed by a not-so-excellent toss for a good laugh, but later. The toughened, nine-inning catcher, Milli, had three assists. Two were throw-downs to nail young runners at third and second bases, trying to steal on the older team. Mill-dog also had nine put-outs behind the plate with the Ks for a nice statistical day.

There were four evil pop-ups that were handled nicely by the infield. Welzy and Evy caught two in the second inning. Welzy showed off his range in snaring the first one. Evy came a long way to barely grab the next one near the mound with runners on. Welzy took care of the next two in the third and eighth innings with nice catches of sun balls falling out of the sky and landing in his glove. Buzzard infielders love their dirt combined with bouncing baseballs and they will eat up grounders all day long. Evy at shortstop had four tough assists and three put-outs, while Welzy at second had one assist and two put-outs. Surf Dawg snagged two difficult bouncers at third, while Wook had two put-outs on stolen base attempts at two different bases. Thunder had eight put-outs playing a slick first base with a sore knee.

Two noteworthy defensive gems include the hot grounder in the sixth that deflected off of Salmo's glove to Evy for a very close 1-6-3 play. Evy was already calling the runner 'out' as he bare-handed the ball before the throw to assist the umpire in the making the decision. The great sales job worked on the nice play for the out. The only double play of the game ended the nine-inning contest. The 1-2-4 double play is fairly rare. Welzy to Milli for the strike-out followed by the throw-out, to a late arriving Wookie at second, was an exciting way to end the game.

The manager of the Dodgers, Vince Miles, expressed compliments to the Buzzards after the game, and asked where the Fountain of Youth was hidden in Auburn. Because we had obviously found it and were using it to play baseball so well.

Great job in this first game against the younger division. The next three games will be against the 42+ division teams. Next Sunday is a 2 pm game at James Field against the always tough Miners.



Sunday, April 12

Gold Country Ol' Buzzards Game Report #3

Game: April 12, 2015

Buzzards shoot down Astros, 16-6

The first morning game of the new season was a beautiful 70° day in Auburn. The third home game to start the season matched the 0-2 Astros against the 1-1 Buzzards. The Astros tied and almost beat the Buzzards in a game last season. The Buzzards have always enjoyed beating this team because the current and past league presidents of the NABA league, George Bettencourt and Barry Spiller, play on the Lastros.

The starting pitcher for the visiting Astros was the gritty right-hander, Rankin 'Fire Plug' Lyman #01. On the hill for the Gold Country Buzzards was the tough righty, Rick 'Salmo' Salmeri #6, making his first start of the season.

The Astros opened the game with a surprising five hits in a row. The ball had eyes on a few sharp grounders and the two outfield flares to drive in four runs.

No worries, mate. The Buzzards then batted-around in the bottom half of the first inning to put a nice crooked number (6) on the score board. The inning started with Taylor 'Welzy' Welz getting an infield single. Welzy stole second on the first pitch to Dan 'Wookie' Wukmir. Wookie then hit a real high chopper to second that he beat out for a hit, while speedy Welz turned on the jets and scored from second on the play. After an out, Mark 'Thunder' Weathers singled on a 1-1 count to drive in Wook.

With two outs, Jim 'Milli' Milligan singled to left and put two runners on. Up next, Tom 'Tomahawk' Keatley hit a short infield pop-up near the first base line that ticked off of the pitcher's glove. Rankin made a good play to get there, but by not getting that third out, he allowed the inning to continue. Batting next with two outs and the bases loaded, Kelly 'Cagey' Garcia hit a liner to left to knock in Thunder and keep the bases loaded for Mike 'Mickey' Wilson. Mickey worked the count to 3-2 before blasting a rocket shot over the leaping left-fielder for a bases clearing, three-run double. That play ended the scoring for the Buzzards with the lead 6-4 after one inning of play.

The Astros fought back in the second with two to tie the game. A two-out rally produced the runs with two hits and an infield error after a nice double play by the Buzzard infield, 5-4-3 that cleared the bases earlier.

The Buzzards added six more runs in the second to take early control of the game. Wook led-off with a first pitch single up the middle. After second was stolen, Dave 'Evy' Everingham punched a single to left putting runners at first and third. Batting next, Thunder then wacked a single to right to score Wookie from third. Two outs later, Tomahawk got to first with a shortstop misplay on a bouncer. Cagey followed with a run-scoring single to center. After Cagey stole second, Mickey slapped a single up the middle to drive in a hustlin' Kelly. Welzy followed with a full-count smash to deep left field for a stand-up double to knock in Mickey for the final run of the second dig.

The score after two innings was Buzzards 12 and Astros 6. The third inning was scoreless for both teams. The Ol' Buzzards added two more runs in the fourth. Mickey started the frame with a shortstop misplay to get on base. Mickey stole second with Welzy at the plate. Taylor then nailed an 0-1 pitch and sent it on a line with a sizzling hiss for a base hit to left field to knock in Wilson. Up next, Wook walked on four pitches before Evy singled to drive in Welzy. With two outs, Flash hit a flare for a single to put two runners on, but the dig ended with just the two runs scored to make it a 14-6 ball game at the end of four.

The Buzzards changed hurlers in the fifth and righty Gregg 'Surf Dawg' Novotny #1 took the mound and shut down the Astros for the remainder of the game. The Ol' Buzzards, however, were not done scoring and put another run in the book in the last half of the fifth. Tomahawk led-off with a sharp single up the middle. Tommy stole second before Cagey walked. A passed ball then moved up the runners to second and third. Welzy crushed a 1-0 pitch to left, but the fielder was playing deep and caught the sacrifice fly to send Tomahawk home.

In the last offensive inning, the Buzzies scored one more in the sixth. After two were out, Milli laced a shot to left for a hit. Flash then ran for Mill-dog at first. After Flash stole second base, Tomahawk followed with a single to center to drive in Krantz with the 16th run of the game.

If the Buzzards could hold the Astros to no runs in the top of the seventh, the game would end early with the 10-run mercy-rule.

Surf Dawg mowed 'em down in the final inning, 1-2-3, to end the game at the 2 hour and 35 minute mark with the score 16-6.

Buzzard pitching got off to a rough start with the first five batters getting hits, but the seeing-eye hits by the Astros stopped after the second inning. Salmeri pitched four inning while facing 21 batters and throwing 69 pitches (45 strikes & 24 balls). Salmo got the win and gave up three earned runs on seven hits, no walks and four strike outs. Surf Dawg took the bump in the fifth frame and finished the game with three innings of work. Novotny threw 31 pitches (20 strikes & 11 balls) in facing 11 Astros. Gregg gave up no runs on two hits and no walks with two strike ‘em outs.

The Buzzard offense was up to the challenge of hitting slower Astro pitching. The mighty Buzzies peppered four Astro pitchers for 18 hits and five walks to score 16 runs. The hit club for the game included: Cagey (2), Evy (2), Flash, Mickey (2), Milli (2), Thunder (2), Tomahawk (2), Welzy (3), and Wookie (2). The always important ribbies were knocked in by: Cagey (2), Evy, Flash, Mickey (4), Thunder (2), Tomahawk, Welzy (3), and Wook. The Buzzards showed off their legs by running around the bases for 16 scores. The responsible Buzzies (in batting order) are: Welzy (2), Wookie (2), Evy, Thunder, Flash, Milli (2), Tomahawk (3), Cagey (2), and Mickey (2). The eagle-eyed Buzzards that were awarded first base were: Cagey, Flash, Milli, and Wookie (2). There were 10 stolen bases, but none bigger than Evy’s steal in the second inning to remarkably show that he is coming back stronger every week from his major leg injury at the end of last season.

The Buzzard defense was solid, as usual. There was only one fly ball out in the game. It was a nice catch by Mickey in left-field of a line-drive smash that he charged, then he caught the sinking liner sliding on his knees in the sixth. For a time early in the game, the Astros were picking on our new first baseman, but the Weatherman showed how cool he can look in grabbing hot shots in the second and third innings. Mark had four consecutive unassisted outs at the bag. After that display, the Astros hit the ball mostly the other way. Thunder came out of the game defensively with a sore knee in the fifth and was replaced by Garcia. Kelly was greeted with a hard hit by the first-batter for his wake-up call and unassisted out. There were 11 put-outs at first base (7 by Thunder and 4 by Cagey).

There was only one double play in the game. In the second inning with one on and no outs, Rankin hit a grounder to Surf Dawg at third. Gregg fielded the ball and threw a strike to Welzy at second, T-Welz completed the play with a nice easy turn at second and strong throw to Thunder for a good looking 5-4-3 double play.

This was technically a come-from-behind victory over the feisty Astros. A victory with no injured Buzzards is always a good win.

In the next four games, the Buzzards will be playing the 42+ division teams in the league. Next Sunday’s game is at 10 am at James Field against the young Dodgers.

 



Sunday, March 29

Gold Country Ol' Buzzards Game Report #2

Game: March 29, 2015

Buzzards stomp the Yankees, 29-6

The second Sunday of the new baseball season put the Ol’ Buzzards up against the older Yankees in a 2 o’clock game on a warm afternoon at James Field in Auburn. In spite of the mixed-up world of today, it still seemed bizarro-backwards that the undefeated Yankees (1-0) would be playing the yet to win (0-1) Buzzards. The Gold Country Buzzards would not take long to settle the pecking order of the division with the Yanks.

The starting pitcher for the pumped-up Yankees was veteran lefty, Jerry ‘Dealin’ Whelan #11. On the bump for the Ol’ Buzzards was the tough right-hander, Gregg ‘Surf Dawg’ Novotny #1, who was anxious to get back on the hill after last week’s loss.

The Buzzards jumped on the score board in a big way in the first inning with seven runs crossing home plate. Kevin ‘Flash’ Krantz started it off by getting hit by the third pitch of the game. Flash then stole second base before Dan ‘Wookie’ Wukmir hit a soft liner up the middle for a single. After a fielder’s choice, Mark ‘Thunder’ Weathers walked to load the bases. Up next, Pete ‘Baron’ Von Zboray was nicked by a 3-2 fastball to push in the first run of the game. Tom ‘Tomahawk’ Keatley followed with a base-on-balls, and then, so did Jim ‘Milli’ Milligan to force in two more runs. With the score quickly 3-0, the Yankees changed hurlers and brought in right-hander, Randy 'Dented' Dettman #28 to stop the early rally.

Kelly ‘Cagey’ Garcia then greeted the new pitcher by lining a 2-1 pitch into left-field for a two-run single. With two outs, Flash got on base via a misplay by the shortstop, and the runners advanced to second and third before Wookie hit one into the left-center field gap, with his second hit of the inning, to score both runs. The score after the first frame was 7-zip, Buzzards.

The raging Buzzards were nearly unstoppable in the second inning as they showed ‘no mercy’ to the Yanks. The inning started with a long double by Thunder to left-center field on a 2-2 pitch. The Baron was hit by a pitch again to earn first base. Tomahawk followed with a single to left to score Thunderman. One out later, Cagey knocked in the Baron with another run on a sharp single to left. Batting next, Mike ‘Mickey’ Wilson drove a 3-1 pitch into left-field for a run-scoring single. Flash then hammered a single to left-center to drive in two runs.

The runners then moved up to second and third on a wild pitch, before Wook crushed the first pitch for a double that rolled to the right-center field fence to score both runs. Up next, Dave ‘Evy’ Everingham knocked in Wookie with a single to left-center. Batting next, Weathers got his second hit of the inning with a line-drive to right. The Baron followed with a shot to left for a hit. Tomahawk, batting next, hit a high fly to center-field for a sacrifice fly that scored Thunder with the 15th Buzzard run of the game.

The Yankees scored four runs in the top of the third on a walk, infield error and four hits to tighten the score to 15-4. The Buzzards answered back with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the third inning.

Flash led off the inning with a walk. After a fielder’s choice, Evy singled to right putting runners at first and second. After an infield-fly-rule play for the second out, the Baron hit a rope down the left-field line for a two-run single. The score after three digs was now 17-4.

The Ol’ Buzzards scored in every inning of the game. In the fourth frame, the Buzzies ran around the bases two more times. Milli started it off by getting nailed by pitch number two squarely on the upper left arm. Up next, Barry ‘Brooklyn’ Forman singled to right and Mickey walked to fill the bases with Buzzards. After an out, Wook, on a roll, knocked in a fifth run of the game with his fourth hit, a liner to right, in the fourth inning. Evy then got nailed by a pitch, after quickly backing away and into the pitch, for a free ride to the bag before the inning ended with the score Buzzards 19 – Yankees 4.

The still hungry Buzzards went for the batting buffet in the fifth inning and feasted on Yankee pitching to score seven more times. Tomahawk led-off with a single to center. Milli then hit a flare to right for a base hit. Two outs and a couple of Yankee errors later put Surf Dawg at the plate with runners on. Gregg walked on five pitches to load the bases. After an E-4 on a hot grounder by Thunder, the Baron knocked in two RBIs with a single to left-field. Next, Tomahawk slapped a run-scoring single to right-center for his second hit of the inning. Milli then followed with a sharp single to left for his second impressive hit of the fifth. The score through five frames was 26-4.

The Yanks scored twice in the sixth inning to the excitement of the Yankee fans. Lefty Mickey Wilson #21 took the mound in his 2015 Buzzard debut. After two outs were quickly recorded on nice plays at third base by Surf Dawg, the plate and strike zone seemed to vanish. The next five batters got on base via walks or HBP to score two runs and make the score 26-6.

With time still on the clock the Buzzards batted in the bottom of the sixth and added the last three runs. Mickey and Flash started the inning by walking. After an out, Surf Dawg laced a solid single to left-center to drive in Mickey. Thunder followed with his patented line-drive to right-field to plate Flash. The Baron ended the scoring with a single up-the-middle for his fourth hit of the game and his sixth ribbie.

The Yanks did not score in the seventh inning as Wilson mowed 'em down, so the final score of the seven-inning, three-hour game, was 29 to 6.

Buzzard pitching and defense held the Yankees to six runs, while the offense went to town getting 24 hits and with nine walks to dominate the game early. Surf Dawg pitched five innings and threw 79 pitches (46 strikes & 33 balls) to 21 batters. Gregg gave up four runs (3 earned) on five hits with one walk and two strike-outs. Mickey pitched the last two frames and faced 12 Yankees and threw 49 pitches (21 strikes & 28 balls). Wilson gave up two runs on one hit with four walks, one hit batter and one strike-out.

The Buzzards brought their hittin’ sticks to this game and knocked around five Yankee pitchers for 29 runs on 24 hits. The hit club for the game included: the Baron (4), Brooklyn, Cagey (2), Evy (2), Flash, Mickey, Milli (2), Surf Dawg, Thunder (3), Tomahawk (3), and Wookie (4). The always important ribbies were knocked in by: the Baron (6), Cagey (3), Flash (2), Mickey, Milli, Surf Dawg, Thunder, Tomahawk (4), and Wook (5). Every Buzzard scored at least twice (in batting order): Krantz (4), Wukmir (2), Everingham (2), Novotny (2), Weathers (4), Von Zboray (3), Keatley (3), Milligan (2), Garcia (2), Forman (2), and Wilson (3). Four Buzzards joined the 2015 bruise club with one batter earning double entry by taking two for the team. The bruised boys in this game were: Evy, Flash, Milli and the Baron twice.

The Ol’ Buzzards were solid on defense, but only pulled-off one double play. In the fourth with runners on first and second and one out, a sinking liner was hit to center field. Flash charged hard and quickly closed on the ball and caught it just above his shoe laces, while the runner was on his way to second base. Kevin then fired a bullet to Weathers at first base to gun down the sliding runner for the inning-ending double play.

This was an easy win for the Ol’ Buzzards and we’ll take it. It was a nice offensive showing and no one got hurt. Evy continues to amaze the team with his recovery and fine play at shortstop. And now he is running the base paths and sliding, so even the sky is not a limit to an Ol’ Buzzard. As another famous Buzzie once said, “Infinity and beyond …” by Buzz Lightyear.

No game this Sunday, while we all enjoy Easter. The next game is April 12th at 10 am at James Field versus the Astros. The NABA schedule is being corrected this week and should be available soon. We start playing the younger division, 42+ teams, on April 19th.



Sunday, March 22

Gold Country Ol' Buzzards Game Report #1

Game: March 22, 2015

Buzzards can't score early, almost claw back,

Fall short to Solons in exciting home opener, 16-12

After a winter of warm, sunny Sundays, it seemed ironic to open the baseball season on a cool day with heavy clouds and rain in the late day forecast. The 2015 NABA baseball season's opening game pitted the Buzzards and Solons in a rematch of last year's championship game, which was won by the Buzzards 13-1.

The starting pitcher for the Solons was their lefty ace, Tom 'Foz' Defazio #31. On the hill for the Ol' Buzzards was the tough righty, Gregg 'Surf Dawg' Novotny #1. No jinks intended, but Surf Dawg was 8-0 last season.

The Buzzards tacked the first run of the game on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Taylor 'Welzy' Welz led off with a bouncer through the infield for a base hit. Up next, Dan 'Wookie' Wukmir walked on five pitches while Welzy stole on the first pitch. With one out and after both moved up on a wild pitch, Mark 'Thunder' Weathers, the new clean-up hitter, came to the plate. Thunder then hit a grounder to the right side to score Welzy for a 1-0 lead and the first Buzzard ribbie of the season.

Surf Dawg cruised through the first two innings on 22 pitches with 16 strikes. However, in the third frame the Solons placed five short flares into the outfield for hits along with two walks to score six runs. Rick 'Salmo' Salmeri #6 took the mound in relief to end the Solon rally.

The Buzzards answered with just a run in the bottom half of the third inning. With two outs and Kevin 'Speedy' Krantz on second via an infield error and a stolen base, lefty Wookie hit a chopper over the third baseman's head for a single to score Speedy and make the score 6-2 Solons after three innings.

Salmo held the swinging Solons until the fifth frame. Then seven singles, one ground-out and an unfortunate missed double-play opportunity put Welzy #26 on the bump in relief. Then one double-play groundball later and the 10-batter inning was over with the Solons up 12-2.

The Buzzards had a hard time with a sharp Foz and his mix of pitches on opening day. It was not until their bullpen got involved and John 'Hag' Hagen # 24 entered the game in the sixth that the Buzzards' bats started working. The inning started with Speedy knocking a single to left-field, then swiping second before Welzy sends him home with a sharp single to left. Wookie then looped a two-strike single to short center with Welzy holding at second. Both runners advanced on stolen bases to put Buzzards at second and third with one out. Welzy scored on a catcher's error, while Wookie scored later on a single to right by Thunder.

Pete 'Baron' Von Zboray followed with a line drive to left-center to put two on. One out later, Jim 'Milli' Milligan singled to drive in Thunder. Up next, Salmo was hit by a fastball on the left upper arm, just north of the elbow, to load the bases. Mike 'Mickey' Wilson followed that move by using the baseball magnet to also get hit by a pitch (left side) to push in the Baron from third base. With Buzzards still on all bags, Krantz cranked a two-run single to left for his second hit of the inning. The score through six was 12-9 Solons.

Just when momentum seemed to shift, the frickin' Solons banged out three more hits, two with the infield playing in, after an infield error to score three more times in the seventh dig. The Buzzards added three more runs to keep pace, but time was running out.

Four straight Buzzard hits to start the inning looked promising. To lead it off, Wookie slapped a single to right field for his third hit of the day and proceeded to steal second. Batting next, Dave 'Evy' Everingham singled sharply to left-center with Wook scoring from third on an over-throw from the outfield. Welzy ran for Evy and swiped second before Thunder, up next, hit a laser beam to right field to score T-Welz. The Baron then blasted a shot down the left-field line for a stand-up double with Weathers racing 'round the bases to score from first. However, the inning ended quickly after that with two good defensive plays and one K to make the score 15-12 after seven innings.

The Solons scored once more in the eighth on a hit, sacrifice bunt, hit batter, single, strike-out, single and strike-out inning. The Buzzies put up a valiant fight in the ninth. Speedy led-off with a bunt single for his third hit of the game, but was left stranded as he watched the shortstop make three excellent plays to end the game with no more runs. The final score of the 3 hour and 10 minute, eight-inning game was Solons 16 - Buzzards 12.

The Buzzard's solid pitching was throwing strikes (only 3 walks), but the good hitting Solons were finding the holes with lots of flares fielded on one hop in the outfield. The Solons scored in four innings and sent 47 to the plate. They collected 20 hits to out-hit the Buzzards by four. Of the 24 defensive outs, the pitchers got nine by strike-outs leaving 15 for the rest of the guys. Sadly, 20 hits were easier for the Solons than getting 15 outs for the Buzzards.

The Buzzard offense showed up in the sixth and almost had enough in the seventh to make up for the slow start. The Buzzards scored in only four innings, and seven runs in the sixth helped. The hit club for the game included: the Baron (2), Evy, Milli (2), Speedy (3), Thunder (2), Tomahawk, Welzy (2), and Wookie (3). The always important RBIs were knocked in by: the Baron, Milli (2), Speedy (2), Thunder (3), Welzy and Wook. The runs were scored by: Baron, Evy, Milli, Salmo, Speedy (2), Thunder (2), Welzy (2), and Wook (2). Salmo and Mickey were the first to get hit by pitches this season and get to join the 2015 bruise club.

The defense for the first game of the season was solid with just two errors and two nice and timely double-plays. There were only three fly ball outs in the game. The first was a deep drive to Kelly 'Cagey' Garcia in left field to open the fourth. In the sixth, Speedy charged hard from center field and made a terrific shoe top catch to end the inning. Tomahawk got under and smoothly caught the last out of the seventh inning in right field.

The two infield double plays are worth noting. The first one in the second inning was with two runners on and one out. The good looking Welzy to Evy to Thunder (4-6-3) ended the inning with no runs scored. In the fifth the bases were loaded and six runs had already scored in the frame. On Welzy's fourth pitch, Big Frank Smith hit a grounder to Wookie at second to start the inning ending 4-6-3 double play to Evy then on to Thunder at first. The other Big D highlight was the gun down of Foz in the seventh inning when he attempted to steal second base. An excellent throw by Milli and a good tag on a hook-sliding Foz by Wookie covering second got the exciting out.

The Buzzards will do better in the next game and as the season progresses. We will not lose many games, but it is apparent that the opponents will be coming hard at us, so we best not get in the habit of getting down by 10 runs early.

Next week, the Buzzards will tear apart the Yankees on James Field starting at 2 pm. The Yankees are 1-0 by beating the Astros last week.  

Buzzard Note #1: The Buzzards heartily welcome two new studs to the roster. Kevin Krantz was a Buzzard before and is now old enough to be an Ol' Buzzard. Kevin now lives in Auburn and is the closest to our home field. Mark Weathers has been a long-time nemesis while playing with the Dragons for years and recently with the Reds. The Reds broke up and Mark has joined the Buzzards. Mark comes the second farthest, Clarksburg, to our home games. Both guys are great athletic and personality pick-ups and add to an already strong team. This is going to be a fun season and another good year to be a Buzzard.

Buzzard Note #2: The NABA schedule is still not settled, but getting closer. The next four weeks are home games at James Field. Those dates are: Mar 29 at 2 pm, April 12 at 10 am, Apr 19 at 10 am, Apr 26 at 2 pm. No games on Easter Sunday Apr 5.

Buzzard Note #3: Team score-keeping note. Runs in the book count toward the original hitter/runner, not the courtesy runner. Stolen bases or caught stealing count toward the runner.



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"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." - Archie Griffen, two-time , 5'9" Heisman winner