Chiefs, Blue Sox Tied in Playoff Series; Deciding Game Tuesday

For the fourth consecutive season it will come down to a fifth and deciding game.

Did any anyone really expect anything less from these two teams?

The Lexington Blue Sox vs. The Andre Chiefs.

The Andre Chiefs vs. The Lexington Blue Sox.

And on and on and on it goes…..

Before discussing the particulars of Sunday’s game, a 3-1 Blue Sox win, here is the tale of the tape.

The two ICL heavyweights have played the maximum of 19 games in the Championship Series since 2011 and now they will play a 20th, on Tuesday night at Morelli Field, to crown the 2014 winner.

Over the span of those last 19 championship games, and what is fast becoming a late summer ritual in these parts, the Blue Sox have won 10 times and the Chiefs nine times.

The Blue Sox won the rubber game in 2011 and 2013 and the Chiefs won in 2012.

The teams have already met nine times this season.

Matt Karis for the Blue Sox and Jared Freni for the Chiefs, which (who else?) will be the pitching match-up in Game Five.

The Chiefs franchise has won 18 titles dating back to 1960 and the Blue Sox have taken 10 championships since their first in 1998, including eight of the last ten.

Stay tuned and tie yourself on.

Another chapter in the history of these two storied franchises will be written on Tuesday.

And, oh yes, there was a Game Four on Sunday night.

If you missed the first two innings then you missed all of the night’s scoring.

From the third inning on the game was dominated by Lexington’s Aidan Freeburg and the Chiefs’ Tim Dunphy. Freeburg actually retired 15 of the last 16 batters he faced and Dunphy probably deserved a better fate due to some early defensive lapses. But the truth be told, the Chiefs just could not get much going against Freeburg all night long.

Freeburg got both Tony Serino and Billy Mottram to line out for the initial two outs in the top of the first. Juan Portes and Johnny Welch both followed with singles before Freeburg denied the scoring opportunity when Mike Gedman grounded out to Tommy Haugh at first to end the inning.

The Blue Sox took advantage of three Chiefs’ defensive lapses to take a 2-0 lead in their first at bat. Dunphy opened the bottom of the first by getting Jeff Vigurs to ground to Portes at shortstop. Ross Curley followed and hit a hard grounder to Welch at third who came up with the ball but threw low to first for an error. Steve Gath was next and he hit another grounder to Welch, who went diving to his left to make a great stop, and recovered quickly enough to begin what looked like a 5-4-3 inning ending doubleplay. Mike Barbati appeared to take his eyes of Welch’s throw to second and the ball went into right field, with Curley going to third and Gath taking second on the error. Dave Ahern made the miscues hurt when he singled to center, scoring Curley, for a 1-0 Blue Sox lead. Dunphy then recorded a big out when he caught Dan Graham looking at strike three for the second out of the inning. The third defensive lapse came when Dunphy threw a two strike wild pitch, with Justin Silverstro at the plate, allowing Gath to come across with the second run. That stung a little bit more when Dunphy struck out Silvestro on the next pitch. The early damage was done the Chiefs were looking at a 2-0 deficit heading for the second.

The Chiefs responed and cut the lead in half in the top of the second. Paul Yanakopulos singled to left and Mike Andre followed with a single to right. Barbati then dropped a well placed sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position. Freeburg then got a big out when he got Mike Burgoyne to pop up. Serino was next and he delivered with single to short left, scoring Yanakopulos and sending Andre to third. Mike Hart then tracked down Mottram’s well hit liner in the left-centerfield gap to retire the side.

The Blue Sox got that run right back in the bottom of the second. Haugh singled down the left field line and Hart followed with a line single to right, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. Will Marcal then hit a missle at Gedman. The big first baseman got a glove on the potential, but extremely difficult to handle, 3-unassisted doubleplay ball, but it got just far enough behind him for an infield single and a 3-1 Lexington lead. Barbati then turned in the defensive gem of the game and saved a run when he made a diving stop of a Vigurs liner that was labeled for centerfield. The Chiefs finally got their doubleplay, albeit in an unconventional manner, when Curley flew to Serino in deep center and Hart tagged up from second but left the base a bit early and was doubled off to end the inning.

That was it in the scoring department for the evening although both teams had a few more chances.

The Chiefs last scoring opportunity came in the top of the third. Portes drew a walk and Welch reached on an error by Marcal in left when his sky high pop up got above the lights. Freeburg escaped the jam when Gedman and Yanakopulos both popped up and Hart tracked down Andre’s liner in the right-centerfield gap.

The game moved quickly in the bottom of the third, the top of the fourth, and the top of the fifth, as Dunphy and Freeburg didn’t allow a base runner.

Marcal led off the home half of fifth with a single, but Lexington couldn’t add to their lead when Dunphy got Vigurs to fly to Mottram and Curley to hit into a 6-4-3 doubleplay.

It was another 1-2-3 inning for Freeburg in the top of the sixth.

The Blue Sox threatened but didn’t score in the bottom of the sixth. Gath drew a leadoff walk and Ahern followed with a single. Graham then bunted them into scoring position before two comebackers to Dunphy, off the bats of Silvestro and Haugh, sent the game to the seventh.

Freeburg got Barbati on a grounder to Gath and Burgoyne on bouncer back to mound to send the Chiefs down to their last out. Serino kept the game alive when he singled up the middle before Mottram struck out swinging to end the game.

Freeburg, the rookie right-hander from WPI, allowed six hits and struck out three.

Dunphy gave up just one earned run, also allowed six hits, and struck out a couple.

(Bruce Tillman, Bruce Hack-Stats &, Jim Valente-Photos)

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