My day started early as we had rain last night. I had to help get the field ready for a 1:00 game. Thank God it was Saturday so there were a couple of other Dads to help. It was the 5th game on our field that week and you could tell. It took a while, but we got it ready. The players were to be there at 11:00 to loosen up and hit in the hitting facility. About the time they came down to the field it started raining. The helped tarp the mound and the plate. We would just wait it out. The sun came back out and they started throwing. The other team showed up and they too took the field. We uncovered the mound and homeplate and about 3 minutes later the rain started back. The boys ran and got everything retarped. I hate days like this. Either just rain us out or stop and let us play. I had my son watch a baseball instructional video in the locker room while we were delayed.
The game finally got started and the sky cleared. It decided to be a nice day after all. Our pitcher was making his first start of the year. He had pitched well in relief a few times. The other team jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Our pitcher was throwing strikes. They were just too good. Our leadoff man struck out looking and our number 2 hitter got hit by a pitch. Now it was my sons turn. He turned on a first pitch fastball and hit it well over the leftfield fence. Too bad it was 2 feet foul. Next pitch was a shot down the leftfield line-FOUL. He did this 3 more times. I hollered “hands in, up the middle” which is something we have been working on to keep him from trying to pull everything.(I think I could see him mouth “shut up Dad”). Finally he worked a walk and we were in business. The only problem is the next 2 outs were made without us scoring.
Baseball is a funny game. We were clearly a better team than our opponent, but nothing seemed to go our way. Everything they hit found a hole. Everything we hit was right at them. There centerfielder reminded me of a young Andrew Jones. If it was in the air, he caught it. We were down 7-1 after 3 innings. Our coach finally made a pitching change. Our new pitcher shut them down over the next 2 innings. Still 7-1 after 4 1/2. I could sense a momentum change. I was talking with another Dad in the pressbox and mentioned that we were going to come back and win this ballgame. I had seen it many times over the years. A team jumps out to an early lead and relaxes. They quit scoring and allow the other team to get back in it. You have to have that killer instinct. No lead is big enough. I remember back in college. My coach loved to beat everyone badly. He knew when to put on the brakes, but it seemed like if we didn’t win every game 10-0, he wasn’t satisfied. We watched a baseball instructional video about how to stay focused every pitch for the full game. I will never forget that video. Sometimes it is hard to focus, especially if you have a slow working pitcher or one struggling to throw strikes. Our new pitcher was just hammering the strike zone and it seemed to get our boys mentally back in the game.
We scored 3 in the bottom of the fifth. We knocked out their starter and the new pitcher threw a little harder and with better control. This was our type of pitcher. We held them in the 6th and scored 4 more in the bottom of the 6th. We now were up 8-7. There should have been no way that we should be winning after how badly we had played the first 3 innings. But here we were. All we needed was to get 3 outs and our undefeated season would be intact. Our pitcher bowed his neck and struck out the first 2 batters. The next batter hit a hard ground ball in the hole at short. Our shortstop backhanded it and made a strong throw to get the runner by a step. Game over. Some how we came back and won the game. After the game I ran into the coach. “That sure was an ugly win” I said. “I hope no one has a video of that game” he responded. “Yeah, but a win is a win and you are still undefeated” I said. “Well we have another game Tuesday and a lot of work to do” was his reply. See you then.