I’ve been involved in countless sporting events in my lifetime, ones I’ve played in, ones I’ve watched, ones I’ve reported on and even a few that I’ve coached. I’d be hard-pressed to come up with one that matters more on a personal level than the one I enjoyed this evening.
As you know the Codgers, my Falmouth Youth Baseball AA team — made up mostly 8 and 9 year olds, with 1 or 2 10s thrown in the mix — had a very tough regular season. We won just two games all year, both against the same team, and those didn’t come until the last third of the year. We started out 0-8 and for a while me and Coach Brad wondered if we’d ever get a ‘W’. There were several nights when we talked on the phone and just kept repeating “just one, these kids deserve to win a game. They’ve worked too hard to keep losing.”
Good things come to those who wait.
We might have won just two regular season games, but now we’ve also won two playoff games and are on the cusp of pulling off the inconceivable. If we win on Saturday we’re the league champions. One game for all the marbles against Pizza 1, Subs 2.
You know a full rundown of that will follow over the holiday weekend. For now, let me tell you how we got there, which is quite impressive.
We faced Northeast Insurance tonight, the regular season champs. Basically that team rolled up everyone all season long. They went 9-2-1 and destroyed us. They beat us 9-2, 16-4 and 24-4. Every time we played them, it got worse. They’re coached by a former pro ballplayer, and a very good dude, Raphy Hernandez, and you can tell that his boys know how to play the game.
Maybe they were overconfident. I don’t know, but they were not ready for Round 4 with the Codgers.
Before the game started I just kept reminding our boys that they had the best record in the playoffs. We were 1-0, NEI had a bye, so they hadn’t played a game yet. We told them to just make plays. I took a page out of Coach Lundberg, the FHS basketball coach’s book, and told them to work hard and forget mistakes. ‘Just keep playing,’ he loves to say.
Our guys came out fired up. We pushed across three in the top of the first and we were off to a flying start. Then it was time for the defense to take the field.
In our first round win, a 13-12 nailbiter over Amvets, we had used our ace, Jack, and our No. 2 Gavin, for three innings each. For this game the plan was to start our No. 3, Coleby, and hope to get two strong from him, then go with the other boys for two each. You’re allowed to use a pitcher for only six innings in the playoffs, and we would have had to piece things together if we made the championship, but you can’t live for tomorrow in the postseason, just today.
Coleby made us look brilliant, though. He warmed up with his dad, Bill Andrade the FHS soccer coach, and he was clearly in a good place. I work with our pitchers, and told him not to worry about anything but throwing strikes. We had looked over the previous games with NEI and they didn’t really kill us as bad as the scores looked. We killed ourselves. We walked waaaaaay too many batters, and threw the ball around.
Walks were not an issue tonight. Coleby came out and struck out two of the first three. We got a groundout to end the inning and things were good.
In the second we tacked on four more runs, and then Coleby threw another shutout inning, with two more K’s. We didn’t score in the third, but Coleby was on again in the third. We gave up an unearned run, but on that one NEI got a little lucky. My guy, Rye, made a fantastic stop on a screamer that was headed for right field, but he was so excited at picking the ball that all of that adrenaline led to him air-mailing first base by about 20 feet. That run eventually scored, but still we were up 7-1.
In the fourth we got an RBI triple from Jack Jordon, our top player, and he then scored on an overthrow to make it an 8-run game. Gavin then threw a scoreless fourth.
In the fifth we didn’t plate any runs, but neither did they. In the sixth Carter Leighton, one of our most improved players, came up and hit a little infield single that went for three bags when they threw the ball around. It was like the teams had switched places. They were making the mistakes and we were the ones capitalizing. It was fun to be on the other side of that. Leighton scored when the catcher overthrew the pitcher on a throw back to the mound after a pitch, sliding in like a big leaguer with tons of gusto.
With the sun fading, and a 9-run lead, the writing was on the wall. We just needed to fade a comeback and we would be okay. They got three against Gavin in the last inning, but he got out of the jam and struck out the last batter to start a big celebration.
Now we’re one game from going from worst to first, in the same season. It’s been quite the turnaround.
The team we’re playing on Saturday is pretty good. Like NEI, they beat us three times too. The scores were closer, though, and I really like the way our boys are playing.
Sometimes it all comes together for a team. You start to get the breaks. The players make plays.
Our slogan right now is “why not us.”
I can’t think of a single reason why not. I wish Saturday was tomorrow.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.