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MCGINN ’N JUICE: Hillel’s Dynasty Brought To Halt

By Timothy J. Mcginn, Crimson Staff Writer

Just call them District Five.

They were a bunch of nobodies with too few gloves to go around, a single base and no bat; a ragtag group with no experience, no skill and no hope.

They didn’t even have jerseys. It was only coincidence that three of them wore the same long-sleeved t-shirt from J. Crew. They weren’t even a bunch of has-beens, just never-weres.

Hillel’s batsmen were their Hawks, sporting team visors and spikes, riding Eric Trager’s arm and a two-year unbeaten streak. The Crimson squad needed a miracle—or a hotshot lawyer sentenced to probation and community service following an arrest for driving while intoxicated.

But all they got was Greg Michnikov, and he hasn’t even seen the inside of a courtroom. Not as a lawyer, anyway. And he wasn’t even drunk.

In the face of such odds, most recreational softball squads would’ve picked up their base and gone home. But not them. Because when everyone says it can’t be done, Crimson editors fly together.

Despite a mere 10 minutes of batting practice, the underdogs from 14 Plympton touched up Trager for three runs in the top half of the first inning to earn a surprising early lead. But the boys from Mt. Auburn (1-1)—seasoned veterans who handed down a 12-run defeat to the Broadsheets (1-0) just one year ago—responded almost immediately, plating two in the bottom half to draw within one.

With runners on second and third and just one out, Hillel threatened to tack on several more. Ryan Pakter tattooed an offering from Crimson hurler Dave Rochelson over the heads of both right fielders, prompting Jonathan Meltzer to take off at third base.

But Crimed centerfielder Timothy McGinn sprinted into the gap, reaching back across his body to record an over-the-shoulder catch to take away a sure extra-base hit. McGinn fired to shortstop Tekky Andrew-Jaja, who doubled Meltzer off at third to end the threat.

Both Trager and Rochelson settled into their rhythms shortly thereafter, tossing up zeroes on the scoreboard in each of the two successive frames before Rochelson gave way to Michnikov. The hero-in-waiting immediately surrendered three unearned runs, enduring his athloi with grace prior to his ascension to the altar of the demigods.

Kleos was, in fact, just two outs away.

Catcher Andy “Averman” Brunner and Michnikov singled to start the inning before Trager recorded the first out via line drive.

Stalwart left fielder Josh Gottlieb grounded to Hillel shortstop Josh Suskewicz, who forced Brunner with a toss to Meltzer at third to record the second out of the inning.

But, cockily assuming that the final out had been recorded, Meltzer trod off the field while his teammates stood confused at their positions.

Michnikov attentively advanced to third during the confusion, helping his own cause, while earning him affectionate comparisons to Herakles and a young Curious George alike.

Gottlieb replaced him at second, effectively rolling out the guillotine for the Hillel dynasty.

Trager, sensing the steady approach of his personal Waterloo, lambasted his team and its lack of mental focus, tongue-lashing his infielders as the game slipped away, but to no avail.

Rochelson roped a single down the line past the disgraced Meltzer, playing in at the hot corner, plating both runners. He scored on a single by right fielder Ryan Donovan two plays later, giving the Crimson a 6-5 lead. And the quack, liquefied in CapriSun form, was back in the Crimson’s step, thanks to a CVS run.

After an uneventful sixth, Michnikov recorded the first out before allowing two runners aboard courtesy of fielding difficulties. But without even the slightest hint of fear in his stride, Michnikov mowed down the next hitter, before employing his patented triple deke to induce a feeble pop up to third for the final out.

The Crimson returns to action next weekend at the Junior Goodwill Games against Trinidad and Tobago, known ’round the Yard as the Harvard Salient.

—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at His column never regularly appears.

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