All eyes were on Josh Paul’s Goonies, trying to do the impossible on Saturday, September 7: Come back down three games to none versus Mason Overmire’s Heavy Hitters in the most important series of the year. Having won Game 4 (19-1) and Game 5 (13-9), momentum looked to be on their side. Game 6 took place at Saukie Field, the former home of Veto League, marking the first game played at the park in the 2020 season. And, boy, did the scheduled seven inning affair live up to the hype.
Early runs for both teams opened the game in the first inning as LaVanti Wright scored in the top of the first and Alex Miller in the bottom of the frame. The Hitters would tack on one more in the second before the Goonies would score two of their own in the top of the third. The bats would go quiet for the next two innings before each team scored two in the sixth. With the Goonies up one in the bottom of the seventh, it was the last chance for the Hitters. Michael Carlson moved Miller from first to third on a single to left field before Jim Goff tied the game with a single of his own. The Goonies managed to put an end to the rest of the inning, but the game was tied.
Veto League had a rare extra inning game. In the bottom of the eighth with the championship-sealing run on third and two outs, LaVanti Wright made an excellent running grab in center field to preserve the tie and for the first time in 2020, it would take more than one extra inning to decide a Veto League ball game. A truly fitting way to end a historic season.
There was nothing doing in the top of the ninth for the visiting Goonies. It was the bottom of the ninth for the Hitters where insanity ensued. Kyle Plohr led off with a single. Anthony Reese had one for himself, too. Alex Miller came up and roped a line drive single to left field. The bases were loaded with no outs and a win probability of 99% for Overmire’s Hitters. Michael Carlson hit a fly out to center field for out number one and not deep enough for Plohr to tag up on. Jim Goff hit a shallow fly out to right field for out number two. Josh Paul felt as though if they could get out of this crazy jam, the baseball gods were on their side to win the game in the tenth inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Johnny Readus came up to bat and took a number of pitches before finally hitting a grounder right back to pitcher Trent Ferguson. Ferguson’s momentum was taking him towards third, but the runners were already going. Inexplicably looking around, unsure where to throw the ball, he decides to go home with it as Mitch Dietrich was ready to receive it. The ball sailed five feet over Dietrich’s head and Plohr scored the game-winning run to seal Overmire’s second Veto League Championship in as many years.
After the game, Mason was overheard saying he didn’t truly feel like he won the World Series after that last inning, but definitely did not want to play a Game 7. In any case, Overmire improves his overall World Series record to an astonishing 9-2 as he repeats as champion.
A couple of other tune up games were played prior to the upcoming September 18 All-Star Classic at Douglas Park. In Game 2 on September 7, the Rookies defeated a rather lackadaisical Veterans squad, 29-5. The Veterans were all about having fun and the Rookies decided to pad stats. LaVanti Wright led the way for the Rookies, going 4-6 with a grand slam and 8 RBI. Finally, on Tuesday, September 16, after a week of non-stop rain, the league played it’s penultimate game of the season, with a couple of rookies captaining, as Dylan Hart’s squad defeated Daniel Lindbloom’s team 24-11 in 8 exhibition innings.
The last game of the 2020 season will be on Saturday, September 18, at 6:30pm at Douglas Park in Rock Island, IL, featuring the top 24 players in games played as a way to honor the most dedicated bunch who have continually come out to play ball and keep the league going. More importantly, the game serves as a way to give back to those in need, as the yearly All-Star game is also a charity food drive for the River Bend Food Bank, where the league collects donations, both monetarily and via physical goods from the players and fans to help those less fortunate. In their 11-year partnership, Veto League Baseball has amassed over 8,000 pounds of food donated to the River Bend Foodbank. So, come on out this Friday for a fun-filled evening of baseball, family, and friends. It’s free to attend, and there will be an assortment of goodies available at no charge, but a donation is requested.