By Dan Flaherty
Sunday afternoon at McCoy Park in Brookfield was a tough experience for the fans—at least if you didn't bring your insect repellent, thanks to a plague of biting flies. It was also a tough experience for the offense of the Brookfield Blue Sox, because unlike the fans, the Oconomowoc Five-O's came prepared. They brought their own brand of offense-repellent in the person of starting pitcher Chris Fischer who threw eight shutout innings, leading Oconomowoc to a 10-0 win.
Luke Nelson returned from some brief time off to let nagging injuries heal and he got the offense started with a one-out double in the top of the first. Derek Nelson picked him up with another two-bagger, the only run of the first three frames. Oconomowoc picked up another run in the fourth when Andrew Bauer lined a two-out single to right, but even with Fischer cruising, this had the feel of a game that might be a nail-biter.
But the next two innings saw the O's offense get untracked. Steve Rhoads started the inning with a single to center and Nate Osterndorf beatout a bunt to quickly put the pressure on the Brookfield pitcher. The hurler went by the name of "Johnny" and we're seeking to confirm reports that he was the Johnny from Police Squad, who regularly dispensed brilliant advice to Frank Drebin. Johnny was let down by his defense on the next play, as an error brought in a run. With the score still a manageable 3-0 and runners on first and third, a rather strange play ensued, where a stolen base attempt by Oconomowoc looked ready to blow up, the catcher hesitated and then threw the ball into centerfield. It brought in another run and videotape of the play on all sides has been sent to the Manny Ramirez School Of Fundamentals for use in further instruction. Jeff Rhoads singled to left to get the fourth run of the inning and extend the lead to 6-0.
One inning later Bauer doubled to right while Steve Rhoads singled to right. Osterndorf drove in both with a double to right and another error eventually brought him around. The score was 9-0 and Fischer showed no signs of letting up. The starting pitcher not only threw eight scoreless innings, but did it with ruthless efficiency. The pitch count was only 79 after seven innings, at which point some of us escaped to our cars to get relief from the bugs. But there was no relief for the Blue Sox offense, as Oconomowoc tacked on another run and closed out the win.
With this win, coupled with Merton's loss to the other Brookfield franchise, the second-place Bulldogs, Oconomowoc is now in a three-way tie for fifth with both Merton and the Blue Sox. Two of the three will qualify for the playoffs, and Sussex is still just one game out. That sets the stage for Saturday afternoon at Roosevelt Field when Oconomowoc and Sussex play at 1 PM. A win there sets the O's up with another 1 PM home game on Sunday against 2-12 Hartland, whom they play twice between now and the end of the regular season. These two games are just part of a big weekend, as Oconomowocc loses the Tri-County Night League regular season on Friday in Lebanon. The O's have already locked up the playoffs in the TCNL, and now are smelling the same chance in the high-stakes game that is the LOL West.