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Mitch's Sports Report: A Much Better Dodgers Bullpen Forces Game Seven In Fall Classic

Fans of the Houston Astros may disagree, but a World Series that's already had two of the arguably best Fall Classic games ever played deserves to end with a deciding game seven.

That will be the case now that the L.A. Dodgers have staved off elimination with a gutsy 3-1 victory over Houston in game six at Chavez Ravine last night.

This one was not the back and forth home run derby contest that marked games two and five, but rather a pitcher's duel between crafty lefty Rich Hill for Los Angeles and the hard throwing veteran Justin Verlander for Houston. Verlander was handed a 1-0 lead after an opposite field home run by George Springer in the third, but the former Detroit Tigers ace ran into a spot of bother in the sixth when he gave up a single and then hit a batter before Chris Taylor doubled home the tying run and the Dodgers went ahead for good on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Seager that scored Chase Utley.

Utley is a veteran who also contributed in the field when he leaped to snag a line drive in the top of the inning to quash a Houston rally with two on and two out, and the Dodgers got some insurance when Joc Pederson went yard off Joe Musgrove in the bottom of the seventh. That was the 24th home run hit so far in this World Series between the two teams, and yes, that's a record, with still one game yet to play. That's exciting, but it would be nice if Major League Baseball could admit, perhaps after tonight's deciding game seven, that the baseballs have been altered in some way, because the players know it's true, have said as much, and there's no point trying to make the case otherwise.

But juiced baseballs aside, the Dodger bullpen has been shaky in this series and really steadied itself by holding on to that two-run lead last night, with Kenley Jansen coming up big after a rough outing in games two and five, retiring six straight batters for the save and getting the 40-year old but still dangerous home run threat Carlos Beltran on a strike-out to end it.

So tonight the Dodgers will hand the ball over to Yu Darvish for the biggest start of his career, most of which has been with the Texas Rangers. It would be sweet retribution for Darvish to win tonight and bring L.A. its first title since 1988 because Darvish was knocked around and knocked out early from game three, and was on the receiving end of a racist gesture by Houston's Yuli Gurriel, who had homered off Darvish. Gurriel was given a meaningless suspension for that act, five games that he'll sit out to start the season next year, so it'll be up to the Dodgers to mete out the justice major League Baseball would not.

Lance McCullers starts for Houston, hoping to be the winning pitcher for the Astros' first ever title. It's highly probable that neither of those starters will be involved in the final decision, though, because in a one game, winner take all for the championship, every pitcher will be on a very short leash should their fur get ruffled by opposing batters, and starters as well as relievers for both sides will be available to come out of the bullpen if needed. This has been a classic series, as good as they come, and it's fitting to have it go the full seven before a winner is crowned.

In the NHL, the NY Rangers had to play against the Las Vegas Golden Knights at home in Madison Square Garden last night with news of the deadly terror attack in their city that left eight people dead fresh in their minds. The Rangers have had a rough start to their season and could have reasonably been distracted and dispirited to take another loss but instead came back from a 4-2 deficit to score four goals in the third period for an emotional 6-4 win. Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists in the win, which players and coaches alike admitted was one they desperately wanted to win for their New York City fans on a night when many were still coping with the terrible news of a man purposefully driving a truck into a bike path.  

The South Burlington Wolves will get a shot at their first division one state crown in high school field hockey following their 1-0 win over Colchester in the semi-finals yesterday. South Burlington is no stranger to D-1 field hockey championships, but this will be their first time playing for the title as the Wolves instead of the Rebels, and the winning strike in yesterday's match came off the stick of Kate Hall in the first half. The rest of the game was a tight, defensive affair, with the Wolves holding off a late push by the Lakers to earn a spot in the final, where they'll play third-seeded Champlain Valley in Saturday’s championship game at UVM.

In division one boy's soccer, a milestone for St. Johnsbury as the Hilltoppers beat CVU 2-0 to reach the finals for the first time. Ben Hammer and Matteo Dill tallied ro St. J to secure the win, and they'll take on South Burlington in the title game Saturday after the Wolves edged out Burlington 2-1.

In division three boy's soccer, a thriller of a game for Halloween ended in upset as fourth-seeded Peoples Academy scored a 2-1 overtime win against the top-seeded Winooski Spartans on a goal by Max Carr. Peoples will take on the winner of today's semifinal between Stowe and Twin Valley.

And in division four boys soccer it was Rivendell blanking West Rutland 1- 0, while Long Trail ousted South Royalton by that same score.

Finally, in women's college soccer Castleton got a pair of second-half goals from Rylee Nichols and Makenzi Bellando to down third-seeded New England College, 2-1, and will advance the North Atlantic Conference Championship against Husson Saturday.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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