Daily Archives: June 6, 2010

Tides Lose in Harbor Park Slugfest 12-9

Andy Mitchell was hit hard in the first two innings and registered the loss despite the Tides Hitters attempts

It was a hot night at the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish as the temperature was high and bats were on fire. If you were looking for a pitcher’s duel this was not the place to see one. In part this was due to Norfolk Tides ace Jake Arietta being pulled from the start the day of the game in what is believed to be a move by the Orioles to have him ready to come to Baltimore in a middle relief role at short notice.  In his place veteran submariner Andy Mitchell got the start, his first start since April.  Unfortunately for Andy it was his worst outing of the year as the veteran Bisons’ line up which has the highest batting average in the league and is loaded with players who have played against him for years had his number. After giving up 6 runs in the 1st inning he lasted 2 and 2/3rds innings giving up a total of 7 runs on 13 hits.  Andy has been at his best this year in middle relief following hard throwing pitchers where his submarine style keeps batters who are locked in on the hard throwing pitchers off balance.

Mike Jacobs hit everyone that he faced including Jake Arietta

Tonight the Bisons had Andy’s number and with 2 outs in the top of the 3rd inning he was pulled for Mike Hinckley who after an inauspicious debut in the 9th inning Friday night pitched 1 and 1/3 innings allowing no runs on hits.  Jake Arrieta came into the game in the 5th to throw two innings gave up another run on 3 hits before handing the ball over to Kam Mickolio in the 7th. Kam who has struggled gave no hint of that on Saturday pitching very well in 1 and 2/3rds innings giving up no runs on 3 hits before being pulled with a 2-0 count against Mike Cervenak appearing to be injured and closer Denis Sarfate came in and struck out Cervenak to end the inning.

Mike Hinckley had a good outing in his second appearance for the Tides

The Tides hitters were not silent and as on Friday night chipped away at the Buffalo lead in a convincing manner in a performance on any normal night would have been a game winning performance.

The comeback started in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Blake Davis and Paco Figueroa both singled and Figueroa stole 2nd setting up Matt Angle who singled to drive in both runners.  In the 5th inning with a runner on and 1 out the improving Nolan Reimold homered to left to make the score 7-4. The Tides scored 2 more runs in the bottom of the 6th.  Adam Donachie singled and reached third on a double by Paco Figueroa.  The Bisons then sent in Michael O’Connor to relieve starter Dylan Owen.  O’Connor promptly threw a wild pitch in the dirt that bounce over the home plate netting into the seats to score Donachie.  He the got Matt Angle to ground out to first before Robert Andino singled to score Figueroa. Jeff Salazar struck out and then Rhyne Hughes singled Andino to 3rd base.  Jose Della Torre came into the game for O’Connor and hit Nolan Reimold with a pitch to load the bases. He then walked Brandon Snyder to score Andino before getting Blake Davis to ground out to first to end the inning.

Nolan Reimold greeted at the plate after hitting a 2 run homer in the 5th inning

Once again the Tides seemed to have momentum on their side but fortune turned against them as Denis Sarfate who has been lights out in the 9th inning gave up 4 runs the big damage coming on a Mike Jacobs bases clearing triple with the bases loaded. This gave the Bisons a 12-7 lead going into the bottom of the 9th.  The Tides did not go quietly into the night however as Brandon Snyder hit a leadoff home run and Blake Davis doubled. Adam Donachie struck out swinging and Paco Figueroa grounded out to move Davis to 3rd base. Davis scored on a wild pitch by Manny Acosta to narrow the lead to 12-9. Matt Angle then singled and it looked like the Tides might be about to pull this one out of the fire, instead Robert Andino flied out to center on a 2-0 pitch to end the game.

Once again the Tides put enough runs on the board to win a game and didn’t. Tonight as Earl Weaver said “The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field” and that was in evidence Saturday as Tides pitchers gave up 10 runs in just two innings.  Had the pitching been there the Tides would have walked away with the win but instead dropped their 4th straight.  On the positive side for the second night in a row the Tides hitters produced hits and runs.

As I said at the beginning of this article this was not a night to see pitching.  The Bisons had 12 runs on 22 hits and no errors and left 11 men on base. The Tides with production that should get a win on any night had 9 runs on 15 hits and 1 error leaving 11 on base. Andy Mitchell (0-1 9.86 ERA) got the loss and Dylan Owen (2-1 6.14 ERA) got the win with Manny Acosta getting the save. The teams play Sunday afternoon at Harbor Park. See you there.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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D-Day: Omaha Beach

LCVP’s pass USS Augusta

Like the rest of the Allied invasion forces the 1st and 29th Divisions set sail from their embarkation ports with the intent of landing on June 5th.  General Bradley, commanding the First Army until the American Army Group would be activated accompanied the invasion force.  The OMAHA landing was placed under General Gerow and his V Corps while VII Corps landed the 4th Infantry Division landed at Utah supported by airdrops of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions inland.  American command and control was exercised from sea although General Officers went ashore with each of the American divisions.  A severe channel storm disrupted the plan to land on the 5th and Eisenhower delayed the invasion one day catching a break in the weather and electing to go on the 6th.[i] This delay while uncomfortable for the embarked troops caused the Germans to believe that no invasion would take place until the next favorable tide and moon cycle later in the month[ii] a break which caused a number of senior German leaders, including Rommel to be absent from the invasion front when the Allies landed.[iii]

US Soldier struggling in surf at Omaha Beach

The landing beaches at OMAHA stretched about 6500 meters from Colleville-Sur-Mer to Vierville-Sur-Mere in the west.  A further objective to the west of Vierville; Pont du Hoc, was believed to house a 150mm battery sighted where it could enfilade OMAHA and was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion.  Companies from this battalion made a heroic landing and scaled the cliffs to capture the strongpoint only to discover that the guns had not been emplaced and held their isolated beachhead until relieved by the 29th Division on the morning of June 8th.[iv]

H-Hour for OMAHA was 0630.  Unfortunately the assault troops were transferred to their LCVPs 16-20 kilometers from the beach resulting in a long and dangerous ride in the small craft for the infantry.  Most of the infantry were completely soaked in sea spay and seasick before going ashore carrying loads far above what they normally would carry into battle.[v] One battalion of DD tanks, the 741st Armored Battalion, supporting the 16th Infantry of 1st Infantry Division was launched too far out and nearly all of its tanks were swamped and lost before firing a shot in anger.[vi] Weigley notes that at OMAHA “at least 10 of the LCVPs sank” as did “the craft carrying almost all of the 105mm howitzers that were to be the first artillery ashore after the tanks.”[vii] The losses would cripple the assault on OMAHA and nearly cause its abandonment.

As the soldiers of the American divisions on OMAHA came ashore they faced German defenders of the 352nd, 716th and a regiment of the 709th Infantry Division, the latter under the tactical command of the 352nd.   Without the bulk of their tanks artillery and lacking close air support the Americans struggled across the beaches and were cut down in large numbers before being pinned down behind the sea wall.[viii] As the Americans pinned down on the beach failed to advance the time tables for the reinforcing waves became snarled amid the German beach obstacles which had not been cleared due to 40% casualties among the Combat Engineers and the loss of all but five bulldozers.[ix] Naval officers were frustrated in their attempts to provide support by the lack of identifiable targets on the beaches but strongpoints were “knocked out by either by superbly directed vigorous gunfire from destroyers steaming as close as 800 yards offshore, or by determined action from Rangers or infantry.[x]

Grenadiers of 352nd Infantry Division move to counter-attack

Soldiers ashore discovered the truth that they were not facing the static 716th Division but the 352nd Division as well.[xi] But for the leadership of Brigadier General Norman Cota, assistant division commander of 29th Infantry Division and Colonel Charles Canham of the 116th Infantry who were able to rally their troops and just enough leaders and small units from the 116th which had its linage back to the “Stonewall Brigade” as well as units of the 1st Divisions’ 16th and 18th Regiments  who kept their heads and began to lead survivors through the dunes and up the bluffs to attack German defenders of the roads leading up from the beach from the flank and rear as well as a mid-day break in the weather which allowed some close tactical air support General Bradley may have ordered the evacuation of OMAHA.

Omaha Beach rescue of wounded from surf

At sea events were as confused as Bradley and his staff attempted to make sense of what was going on.  Even later in the evening there was discussion of diverting all further reinforcements from OMAHA to the British beaches.[xii]At 1330 hours “Gerow signaled Bradley: “Troops formerly pinned down on beaches…advancing up heights behind beaches.”[xiii] By the end of the day Bradley’s aid Major Hansen noted Bradley’s comments to Collins: “They are digging in on Omaha beach with their fingernails. I hope they can push in and get some stuff ashore.”  And Montgomery: “Someday I’ll tell Gen[eral] Eisenhower just how close it was for a few hours.”[xiv]

Omaha Beach Wreckage

The landings at OMAHA did succeed at a cost of over 2000 casualties, critical to their success were the German inability to reinforce their defending troops on the beach and the weakness of the units available to mount the standard counterattack that was critical to German defensive plans on D-Day itself. The 352nd Division fought superbly under the full weight of V Corps and the British XXX Corps on its right suffering heavy casualties as they contested every inch of ground.  The 716th Division units melted under the onslaught.  Allied air supremacy played a key role as sorties by the 8th and 9th Air Forces helped keep German reinforcements from arriving and interdicted counter attacks inland.  Weigley credits the Allied air superiority with the success of the landings and with limiting the cost of allied lives.[xv] Von Rundstedt and other German commanders in France were limited by the delay and refusal of Hitler and OKW to release Panzer reserves when needed most early on June 6th.  By the close of D-Day allied forces had secured the five invasion beaches but not achieved their objectives of taking Caen and Bayuex and forces had not linked up leaving the beaches extremely vulnerable had the Germans been able to mount a rapid counterattack by Panzers and strong infantry formations.

The author lecturing at Pont du Hoc Omaha Beach 2004


[i] Ibid. p.74-75

[ii] Von Luck, Hans.  “Panzer Commander“ Dell Publishing, New York, 1989 pp. 169-170.  Von Luck a regiment commander in 21st Panzer noted that General Marcks of 84th Corps had predicted a 5 June invasion at a conference May 30th.

[iii] Almost every D-Day historian talks about the weather factor and its effect on the German high command’s reaction to the invasion.  Rommel was visiting his wife for her birthday and planned to make a call on Hitler. Others including commanders of key divisions such as the 91st Airlanding Division were off to a war game in Rennes and the 21st Panzer Division to Paris.

[iv] Ibid. Weigley p. 96

[v] See Cornelius Ryan, “The Longest Day” Popular Library Edition, New York 1959. pp. 189-193 for a vivid description of the challenges faced by soldiers going from ship to landing craft and their ride in to the beaches.

[vi] Ibid. Weigley. p.78 Weigley talks about the order for the tanks to be carried ashore on their LCTs that did not get transmitted to the 741st.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Ibid. Weigley  p. 87 The weather prevented the aerial bombardment from being effective. Because the bombers could not see their targets they dropped their bomb loads further inland, depriving the infantry of support that they were expecting.  Naval gunfire support had some effect but had to be lifted as the troops hit the beach leaving much of that support to come from Destroyers and specially equipped landing craft which mounted rockets and guns.

[ix] Ibid. Hastings. pp. 90-91.

[x] Ibid. p.99

[xi] Ibid. Weigley p.80

[xii] Ibid. p.101  Also see Weigley p.80

[xiii] Ibid. p.99

[xiv] Ibid. Weigley. p.95

[xv] Ibid. p.94

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