CHAMPAIGN — Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, famously said, "It's a great day for a ball game, let's play two."
But on Sunday afternoon, we do not know if Mr. Cub would have felt the same way after accepting a forfeit win from another squad. But,Dan Plecki did. The manager of the Gifford-Flatville Giflats accepted a forfeit win for the record from the Champaign Dream, because the Dream only had eight players. A team can't start a game with only eight players per major league rules, which are the rules the Eastern Illinois League follows. After accepting a forfeit win, the Giflats played the Dream in an exhibition game, beating them 6-2.
"We have a tremendous group of guys with loads of heart," said Dan Plecki, the manager/player of the team. "Our guys don't give up. We have fallen behind, and we work to get those runs back. I am very proud of our effort today even though the exhibition did not mean anything. It allowed all our pitches to get work and stay fresh. The Dream has good players and tough pitching. It is good to see my hitters having good at-bats against live-arm pitching."
Approximately two hours later, they topped them in the one that counted, 7-6. With four games left on the regular season, the Giflats boast a league-leading record of 13-3. No one else has more than 11 wins, while no other team has less than five losses.
"I felt like my velocity was decent today," Giflats pitcher Cade Sestek said. "My stuff was not always as good as I hoped, but it worked out. Our team seems to get better and better with each week, especially our offense."
The Giflats battled back after falling behind early in the contest. They plated two runs in the top of the sixth to win the game. With two batters out in the top of the sixth, Mike Plecki smacked a single. He was followed by a walk issued to fellow outfielder Kaleb Denault. An error and a passed ball moved the pair into scoring position for Storm Joop, who hit a bases-clearing double.
"We have had guys contribute all season at the right moments," Mike Plecki said. "I have not felt like I have been contributing as much as I should be lately, so it felt good to step up today and help my team win."
Gifford-Flatville scored one run in the fifth to set up the two-run sixth inning. Howard Fisher singled and dashed home on another single by Matt Banaitis.
"When we fell behind, I was not too nervous," Sestek said. "We have come back plenty of times this year and was pretty sure we could do it again."
Mike Plecki had a pair of hits and crossed the plate twice, while Storm Joop also had a pair of hits and drove home two runs. Mennenga and Fisher each had two hits.
In the exhibition game, the Dan Plecki-led team posted a 6-2 win. With the score knotted 1-1 in the top of the third inning, the Giflats exploded for three runs. Marty Mennenga started the third-inning rally with a double to right. He was not on the basepaths long, as he sprinted home on a single to right by Fisher.
Fisher moved to second on a single to left by Sestek. The pair moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Josh Oliveras. Both scored on a Banaitis' single coupled with a throwing error.
The Giflats will travel to Memorial Field in Paxton for a July 15 date with the Paxton Swedes. The first game, scheduled for nine innings, will be played at 1 p.m. The second game, a seven-inning affair, will start at 3:30 p.m. They will wrap up the regular season on July 22 by hosting Colfax-based Game Seven at Franzen Field in Gifford.