Game #4

As Mom & Pops returned this weekend to help us finish off the deck construction, I had to leave them again for my Sunday ball game … too bad, because we were so close to finishing it. I actually contemplated not playing in the game.

Confidence is a funny thing. … I’d been playing well in practice. But in the games, I’ve been feeling like I’m not contributing worth -- well, you know.

But I went. And as we warmed up I was feeling good. Arm felt good. Batting cage felt good. Looked good in the field too.

Twelve guys showed up, though, which meant three of us would be sitting for at least the first half, and I was one of those three. Although this time, I at least got to bat the whole game.
I got a little pick-me-up too when I spotted my friend Liz had come to watch … It made me feel good when she said she admired me for playing in a hardball league versus softball. It made me feel even better when she told me later she overheard a couple of my teammates talking about me while I walked to the plate, saying, ‘Yeah, he’s little, but he can hit …’

Sure, I’d been doing it in practice. Now, I finally got to show ‘em in a game.

I batted for the first time in the third, and from what I had gathered, the guy on the mound appeared as hittable as anyone I’d faced so far. But with a runner on first and only one out as I came to the plate, Marcus told me to bunt.

Fine. I’m a team player.

The pitcher went through his wind up and tossed a pitch that was a little low, but right over the plate. I squared around and knocked a slow roller back to the pitcher. The runner advanced, while the pitcher threw me out. And the sac bunt had worked.

The good news was that the runner, and a couple others, scored to give us a good lead. …But I still griped a bit to Marcus at the end of the inning. ‘I can hit this guy,’ I said. He understood and reminded me it was for the team. Yeah, yeah.

I continued on the bench, although I also found myself becoming a more outspoken cheerleader than I had been in past games.

… Then in the bottom of the fifth, I got my chance at the plate again. This time, there’s one out and a runner on second base. As I step to the plate, I see the first base coach give the bunt sign to Marcus, who’s still coaching Third.

You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

Yep. Marcus gives me the bunt sign again. I just looked and sort of rolled my eyes. Then he puts his hands up as if to tell me to settle down and, of course, do it for the team. … So again. I stepped up. The pitcher went through his wind up and tossed a pitch almost identical to the last one I bunted. The ball jumped off the bat a little higher that I would’ve liked but floated off toward the third base side and dropped in front of the pitcher. He threw me out at first, and the runner advanced. And later scored.

My teammates kidded me as I came back to the dugout from another sacrifice bunt, but they also made me feel good about doing what I had to do and laying down some good bunts. … After the inning was over, I again met Marcus coming off the field. He apologized profusely, while I joshed him about making me bunt again. … The coolest part of it, though, was we were able to throw our arms around each other and laugh about it. Both bunts had worked for the better. My confidence was up. And it was all for our team, which was finally winning, 8-4
In the bottom of the seventh inning, I stepped to the plate once more with the umpire looking at me and saying, ‘Oh, not you again. You’re getting you’re bunting practice in today, man.’ … then I look down the line at Marcus, who’s got a big grin on his face and giving me the sign to swing away.

Thank God.

I immediately got three pitches far out of the strike zone and worked to a 3-0 count. But after taking a really good 3-0 strike last week, I’d made up my mind that I was swinging it looked good. … And that’s what happened. I slapped a hard ground ball to the third baseman, and then beat his throw to first base. … My first hit of the season.

Marcus gave me the steal sign on the ensuing pitch, but I didn’t get a good jump off of first, not to mention there was a left-hander on the mound. Watching the second baseman’s reaction, I thought I was going to have second swiped. But he caught the throw to his left and barely got the tag on me as I tried sliding underneath. …Dirt from head to toe.

I got into right field for the eighth and ninth innings, but other than backing up a couple plays, didn’t get the ball hit to me. … Still, we made some more of the stupid errors that took us out of our first three games, and the opponents tied it up 8-8 as we headed back in for the bottom half of the eighth.

We weren’t going down so easy though. We should’ve beaten these guys in the first game and we’d played too well today to let another slip away. We got two runs across and went back into the field for the ninth with the 10-8 lead.

Two hard ground balls to the shortstop and a line drive to the third baseman. A six-pitch ninth inning and we were done. Our first win … the way we jumped and celebrated, you might have thought we’d won the division.

Oh, it was bliss. We got an excellent outing from our pitcher -- he pitched a complete game. We played as a team. We committed few errors, and everyone was more supportive and having more fun than any of the previous three games. Confidence -- and team play -- is a funny thing.

So, for the record: We’re now 1-3. And I’m batting .200 in five official at-bats (eight plate appearances) with one single, one walk, two strikeouts, two sacrifice bunts and one run scored.

The season
Game one ... we lost, 19-9
Game two ... we lost, 11-5 ... or something like that.
Game three ... we lost, 8-5
Game four ... we won, 10-8

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