Sunn shines in Rocker"s big win over Seattle

By Matt Phelps

The Rockers, Mercer Island's coed 55-and-over softball team, earned a big victory Thursday over Seattle that keeps them alive for the league title and saves a record the team earned last season.

``There won't be an undefeated team this year,'' said Rocker coach and starting pitcher John Weinberg. ``But now we have to run the table and beat them again.''

Mercer Island defeated a previously unbeaten Seattle team 6-4 at lower Woodland Park in Seattle. Last year the Rockers were the first team in the league's 25-year history to complete the regular season 28-0.

The win also pulls the Rockers to within a game-and-a-half of Seattle with one game remaining with the top team, and seven games remaining overall.

One of the newest Island team members, Maureen Sunn, shown brightest as Mercer Island used offense late in the game to build a big lead.

``I was just able to hit the ball squarely,'' said Sunn, who was playing in just her fifth game of the year. ``I guess it was just good timing.''

But the Rockers would have to use all of that lead to put Seattle away.

The Rockers biggest inning of the game came during the top of the fourth. With two outs and runners at the corners, Rocker Doug Glant sent a line drive to center field to score the first run of the game.

Sunn cleared the bases with a two RBI double that sent the Rockers' bench into a frenzy.

``We had lost two games to them earlier in the season so I was very pleased with this outcome,'' said Sunn.

Rocker Mike Salokas picked up the team's final run of the inning on a RBI single to give the Rockers a 4-0 lead.

Seattle's next two at-bats were futile, resulting in five base hits but no runs on the scoreboard. After showing off her bat in the fourth, Sunn showed off her arm during the bottom of the sixth inning.

Looking for its first run of the game with a runner on first base, a Seattle hitter sent a rocket into the right-field gap. Sunn hustled over and cut the ball off, firing a laser to Mueller, who in-turn completed the relay to third base to get the runner out.

Sunn came up big again at the plate in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded, Sunn hit a two RBI single to left field, giving Mercer Island a 6-0 lead.

Seattle mounted a comeback in the bottom of the seventh.

The first six batters reached base and scored three runs to bring the tying run to the plate. The next batter grounded out, but a subsequent base hit put more pressure on the Rockers' defense as Seattle got within two runs. But a line drive down the first-base line hit a runner in fair territory as she stood on first base. The umpire called the runner out and a dead ball, which got an argument by the Seattle team. The call stood and the next batter hit a fly ball to the outfield that was caught for the final out of the game.

``Last time we played them we went into the final inning with the lead and lost,'' said Salokas. ``It proves that we can win tight games and John pitched really well.''

Seattle had its chances to score early but both team's defenses were at high alert. A fast-paced pitchers' duel dominated the first three innings.

Mercer Island struggled to even get on base with the first eight hitters retired in order before Larry Patelli hammered the ball into the right center-field gap for a triple. The hit was for not, as the Rockers failed to pick up Patelli, who was stranded at third. Seattle was not as anemic during the first three innings, but clutch defense and running mistakes by the Rocker's opponents kept the scoreboard empty.

``This is the first-place team,'' said Salokas. ``We are still evolving, so this gives us more confidence.''

Two base hits in the first inning with just one out set an ominous feeling for the Rockers. The next batter sent a ground ball to Salokas at short stop, who shuffled the ball to second baseman John Mueller for the force out. Mueller went for the double play to end the inning but overthrew Geri Aslin at first base. The runner going into third-base rounded the bag but was touched on the back by the third base coach. The umpire called the runner at third out for interference. During the second inning, with a runner on first base, Glant, Mercer Island's center fielder, made a running, lunging catch to help his team get out of another potential jam.

The third inning was more of the same. With two runners on base, a Seattle hitter sent a deep fly ball to right field. The catch was made but the runner from first, who had tagged up and tried to advance to second, was deemed to have left the bag too early. The runner was subsequently called out to end another Seattle threat.

``I was astonished (there was no score after three innings),'' said Weinberg. ``We were fortunate that those little things killed off their rallies.''

One of the biggest Rockers, 6-foot 7-inch first baseman Alan Anderson, returned to the team Thursday but did not play. Anderson is still recovering from being hit in the forehead by a line-drive.

``I had a broken nose, fractured skull and two black eyes, but no concussion,'' joked Anderson.

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