DeDoes, Defensive Deeds Lead The Way

written by Steve DeDoes for Toledo Hawks Baseball (originally published on

August 5, 2011 – In their second game of the day – and their final game in NABF World Series pool play – the Toledo Gold Hawks advanced untarnished into Saturday elimination play with an exciting 5-3 win over the Crystal Lake (Illinois) Cardinals.  Behind starting pitcher Mattie DeDoes (Oberlin/Ann Arbor, MI), and a solid defense that turned in some important plays, the Hawks got some key hits in the early innings and held on for the victory.  Drew Kuns (Bowling Green/Oregon) led the Hawk offense with a double and a triple among his three hits as the Hawks claimed the “winner’s” position by going 3-0 against the rest of “Pool A”.

Brett Howard (Siena Heights/Toledo) not only chipped in offensively with two hits, but made a number of fine plays at third base.  Fellow Siena Heights/Toledo teammate Corey Lehman also had two hits on the game, and after DeDoes set the Cards down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Lehman got things started right away for the Hawks with a leadoff single in the home half.  He raced around to score the game’s first run on a left-centerfield, two-base blast by Kuns.  The Hawks continued to score off Cardinal starter Brian Marquis (Elmhurst College), notching runs in each of the first four innings.  R.J. Rios(Adrian/Toledo) doubled and scored in the second when Levi Pauli‘s (Defiance/Ottawa Lake, MI) two-out smash eluded the Crystal Lake shortstop; Kuns tripled and scored on Howard’s hit in the third; and the Hawks got two more in the fourth on hits by Pauli, Lehman (double and RBI) and a sacrifice fly by Blake Schmenk (Owens CC/Perrysburg).

DeDoes, meanwhile – one day after a standing ovation from his feature concert at a jazz festival in Flint, Michigan (he is a performing/recording artist on alto saxophone) – sailed through the first three innings allowing only one hit.  He was touched for an unearned run in the fourth, and then grounded the Cards with a 1-2-3 fifth inning.  With the Hawks holding a 5-1 lead, it was time for the defensive heroics to play out.

In the sixth, DeDoes allowed a leadoff single and then issued his first walk of the contest.  Pitching to third-place hitter Thomas Wilson, DeDoes induced a grounder to third that Howard turned into a nice 5-3 double play – Kuns making a great reach to hold the bag for the second out.  After nicking cleanup hitter Nolan Jacoby and walking the next hitter, another ground ball to Howard ended the inning with the Cards unable to score while leaving the bases loaded.  The seventh inning saw DeDoes tire a bit and yield three hits and two runs, but he got Wilson to ground out again to escape additional damage.

While the Hawks’ bats were quiet over the final four innings against Marquis and 8th-inning Cardinal pitcher Mark Hode (Parkland CC), the game’s key play occurred in the eighth.  With Tyler Gibson (Bluffton/Sylvania) on the hill in relief of DeDoes, Cardinal leftfielder Ben Albano eked out a two-out walk.  The next hitter, Virginia Tech’s Scott Heelan, belted a long drive to the wall in left-center field; Albano streaked around the bases with an apparent run that would not only turn this contest into a one-run game, but would also cause the Cards’ batting order to flip over for the top of the ninth.  However, Hawk centerfielder Eric Yunker (Ohio Northern/Holland) hit shortstop Lehman with a perfect throw, and Lehman’s dead-on, one-hop relay to catcher Colin Meinzer (Wooster/Toledo) blocking the plate ended up with Albano cut down with the third out of the inning – and the 5-3 score intact.

After that, Gibson set down the Cardinals 1-2-3 in the ninth to earn a save and protect DeDoes’ victory.  The loss made the Crystal Lake squad 2-1 in pool play, and they, too, will advance as the runners-up from “Pool A.”  The Gold Hawks will face the runners-up from Pool B in a quarterfinal matchup in Ned Skeldon Stadium Saturday (Aug. 6) at 9am.