The 2014 George B. Kelley Federation best-of-five championship series between Park Furniture and defending league champion Martin Oil is expected to be an extremely competitive one.
And if Game 1 between the two teams Friday night at Vets Field provides any indication, it will also be a very high-scoring one.
Park Furniture mashed out 14 hits and broke out of a 5-5 tie by scoring eight runs over the third, fourth and fifth innings en route to a 14-9 win in the opener.
Game 2 is set for tonight at 7 at Vets.
"It was a team effort tonight,'' Park manager Scott McClellan said. "It was everybody doing the job for us. We had plenty of timely hitting.''
With the game tied, 5-5 in the third inning, Park scored four runs on four hits to take the lead for good. First baseman Derek Cursio's two-run double, shortstop Mason McGinnis' run-scoring triple, and Josh DeGol's RBI single were the big hits in the inning.
"After the first two innings, everybody got dialed in at the plate for us and saw the ball well,'' Cursio said.
Park capitalized on three walks, an RBI double by Ben Foose, and a run-scoring single by A.J. Fink to take a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
"In every game, you want to get out to a lead early,'' McClellan said.
Martin Oil tied the score, 5-5, with a five spot in the bottom of the second. Shortstop Casey Gray's two-run single was the only hit in the inning for Martin, which benefited from four walks and a hit-batsman.
Park Furniture's third-inning uprising set the tone for the rest of the game.
"It was very important to come back there,'' McClellan said.
DeGol gave Park Furniture a lift both at the plate and on the pitching mound. DeGol cracked four hits in five at-bats, scored two runs and drove in two more.
He also came on in relief in the second inning and pitched the rest of the game, earning the victory with a 5-inning stint that stabilized what had been a turbulent, up-in-the air game in the early going. DeGol spaced eight hits, struck out two and didn't walk a batter.
"He pitched well,'' Martin Oil manager Ron Mock said of DeGol. "His job was to come in and throw strikes and make his defense make plays behind him, and that's what he did.''
After Nathaniel Soellner's RBI single in the third inning pulled Martin Oil to within 9-6, Park added on two more runs in the fourth inning to take an 11-6 lead. Tommy Walter's double scored Foose, who had drawn a leadoff walk, and Walter came home when Cursio dumped a single into right field.
Martin Oil rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, with Jordan Miller igniting the rally with a leadoff inside-the-park homer. Miller rapped a drive to deep right-center field, then outran the throw to the plate. Trenton Creppage added an RBI double and scored on Tanner Snyder's sacrifice fly to pull Martin to within 11-9.
True to form, Park padded its lead with two runs in the fifth inning on Dom Lombardo's RBI single and Foose's run-scoring groundout, and added another run in the seventh inning when DeGol raked an RBI double.
Exactly a week after the July 4 holiday, both teams showed every indication of staging an offensive fireworks show throughout the entire championship series.
"Park is a good hitting team,'' Mock said. "It's going to be a very competitive series.''
PARK FURNITURE (14): Cursio 1b 512, McGinnis ss 522, Cumming c 131, DeGol 2b-p 524, Lombardo cf 311, Foose lf-2b 221, Walter 3b 422, Adams p-cf 000, Fink dh 411, Thompson rf 300. Totals - 32-14-14.
MARTIN OIL (9): Stapleton cf 110, Kline cr-ph-rf 302, Mock rf-cf 311, Miller 1b 412, Gray ss 412, Creppage c 411, Lingafelt 3b-lf 400, Zitterbart p-3b 310, Snyder 2b 221, N. Soellner lf-p 311. Totals - 31-9-10.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Park Furniture504 220 1-14 14 2
Martin Oil051 300 0-9 10 2
E-Foose, DeGol, Gray, Mock. 2B-Foose, DeGol 2, Cursio, Walter, Creppage, Mock. 3B-McGinnis. HR-Miller. RBI-Miller 2, Gray 2, Stapleton, Snyder, Soellner, Zitterbart, Cursio 3, Foose 2, McGinnis, DeGol 2, Lombardo, Walter, Fink. SF-Snyder. HBP-Stapleton by Adams, Soellner by Adams, Cumming by Soellner. SB-Miller 2, Gray, Creppage, Snyder, DeGol, Lombardo.
MARTIN OIL: Zitterbart (L), 2IP, 7H, 9R, 6ER, 6BB, O SO; N. Soellner 4IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB, 1SO.
PARK FURNITURE: Adams 1IP, 1H 5R, 5ER, 4BB, O SO, O BB; DeGol (W) 5IP, 8H, 4R, 4ER, O BB, 2SO.
Umpires-Stan Risser (home plate); Huey Parker (first base); Brett Shover (third base).