Rockers ready to battle in Seattle

By Matt Phelps

It's a three-team race with eight games remaining for the Western Washington co-ed 55-and-over softball league. Seattle is in first place, with the Mercer Island Rockers in second and Tukwila in third.

All three teams are charging down the stretch.

A Rockers 8-6 win over Tukwila last Thursday set up a must-win game for the team this Thursday, as they head to lower Woodland Park to take on Seattle.

``We played a good team and we enjoy playing the good teams,'' said John Meuller, who was 3-for-3 against Tukwila. ``We usually go and have a sandwich or a taco after the game, but we need a drink after these games.''

Mercer Island has lost both games this year to Seattle and must sweep the final two meetings to have a chance to win the regular-season championship.

``We really have to beat Seattle,'' said Rocker head coach and starting pitcher John Weinberg. ``Unless we beat them twice, the rest of the season is irrelevant.''

Mercer Island took a step in the right direction last week with the win over Tukwila and a thrashing of Kirkland 18-1.

Tukwila, which is fast losing ground in the league-title hunt, began the game by scoring two first-inning runs at the Lid Park. A two-run home run by the team's third place hitter gave the Magic a quick lead. But good defense snuffed out the rest of the magic for Tukwila.

The Rockers were able to cut the lead in half during the bottom of the second inning. A fielder's choice off the bat of Harriet Slye resulted in a force out at second base, but allowed Rocker Doug Glant to cross home plate for the team's first run.

A running catch in foul territory by left fielder Ted DeCampo began a trend of great outfield defense that would last the rest of the game for Mercer Island.

The Rockers' bats came alive during the bottom of the third, as the team sent 11 hitters to the plate. A walk by Rocker Mike Salokas scored the maximum fifth run allowed during the inning with the bases loaded. The Rockers held a 6-2 advantage.

The fourth inning was dominated by great defense. A hard drive to center field looked to have home-run trouble written all over it before Rocker Richard Griffith sprinted over and stretched his arm up as far as he could to make a big catch for the first out of the inning. The next batter, who already had a home run for the Magic, hit a bloop base-hit to left field. Salokas, playing short stop, chased the ball down and fired a bullet to second base to get the greedy runner.

The Rockers tacked on two more important runs during the bottom of the fourth with a sacrifice fly by Doug Davis and an RBI single off the bat of Larry Musil.

The Rockers' defense held the lead together just enough to get the win as the Magic came back with three runs in the sixth and one in the seventh.

The win over Tukwila is extra sweet for the Rockers. The Magic defeated the Rockers in last year's postseason tournament.

``We always crank it up a notch for Tukwila and Seattle,'' said DeCampo. ``It was really exciting that it was that close.''

Rocker Geri Aslin saw the bulk of time at first base during the game. The team's usual first baseman, Alan Anderson, is still out after being hit in the forehead by a line-drive during batting practice two weeks ago.

``She did a great job and she said she felt comfortable,'' said Weinberg. ``We have some injuries but we will get through it.''

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