Grassy Bay finished second in the Kaien Island Slo-Pitch League last year but Billy Novak made sure they remained unbeaten through the first two weeks of the 2014 season.
The pitcher was dazzling both at the plate and on the mound as his team defeated Rupert Wood’N Steel 14-8 in five innings of play Thursday night.
Novak picked up three RBIs, including hitting an inside-the-park home run off the left-field fence to lead his squad to their third victory in three tries this year.
As he rounded each base, Novak looked over his shoulder to make sure the ball was deep enough for him to try for the inside-the-park homer.
“That’s the first one of my career,” Novak said of his roundtripper.
“I just thought I’d try [for the inside-the-park home run]. If I get out, I get out. I’m a big guy, it usually doesn’t happen. It’s the first of my career, probably my only one,” he chuckled.
Teammates teased the pitcher by affectionately calling him “Big Papi”, the nickname of Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. Ortiz has never hit an inside-the-park home run, although he has tripled.
Novak’s unique home run came in the bottom of the fourth inning after he had just pitched a one-two-three inning, sitting down all three batters he faced.
After Grassy Bay overcame an early 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the first, scoring five runs to take a commanding 5-1 lead, Novak and Grassy Bay were on cruise control until a hiccup in the top of the third cost them five runs, the maximum you can score in an inning according to KISL rules.
“There’s a few changes [to the team]. We picked up a couple guys, couple girls, but we usually keep the same group. It’s all fun, we’re not a serious team, but we play serious,” said the pitcher.
Novak doesn’t always pitch. The team rotates throwers, and is looking to encourage more women to take the mound, although it’s not always easy with bigger and bigger players coming out each game.
“It’s getting kind of scary now,” said Novak who got hit in the leg by a hard comebacker in the bottom of the fifth.
Other notable performers on Grassy Bay included Willie Billie, who hit a triple in the third inning, the only player other than Novak to reach past first base on a hit. Everyone else notched singles in the game.
“[I enjoy] the fans, the sun, friends. This is my second family out here,” said Novak.
Grassy Bay looks to stay undefeated when they next play the Leftovers Thursday. Rupert Wood’N Steel will play the Honey Badgers.