Game #2

… man I’m sore.

Another baseball game in my men’s league this afternoon. Game No. 2 of the season.

We lost. 13-2.

Nothing to blame it on this time except darn good pitching. By the time the other team employed their fourth ace pitcher to wrap up the game, we were beginning to wonder if this other team built their entire roster with no one but pitchers. All of them were good. All of them threw hard. And all of them threw strikes.

… Ok, so we made a few errors on defense, too. That cold wind rolling off the lake didn’t help either …

I started today’s game in left field and batted second in the lineup. In the field, I got a lot of action, but no errors on me today! (thank, God …) … If there was any knock on my defense today it was that I wasn’t playing deep enough on a couple batters. I got two balls that I couldn’t get back on fast enough, both dropped on the warning track and there was little I could do other than get the ball back to the infield and hold the batters to doubles. Otherwise I did make a couple grabs … In the sixth, I moved over to center field after the starting center fielder pulled a hamstring as he tried running out a bunted ball. I stayed in center for the remainder of the game, but fielded only a bloop single.

… At the plate in the first inning, our lead off hitter struck out. Then, my turn. I took the first pitch right down the middle. The second was chest high; I swung and was way behind it. The third pitch, I was way ahead and I fouled it off deep down the left field line. The fourth pitch was well below my knees, but the umpire rung me up anyway and I had struck out.

… I got my second at-bat when I led off the fifth inning (… in our league, everybody bats whether they’re playing the field or not, which explains why I wasn’t leading off the fourth …). Again, I got a first pitch strike; I swung and missed. But the second pitch was right there, and I got around on it. I slapped a line drive into right-center field, and I had notched my first hit of the season … (whew!) … It was the just the second of our team’s four hits today. I would get to second on a fielder’s choice and then took third on the aforementioned bunt play during which our center fielder was hurt. But I was left stranded there.

… I stepped to the plate for the last time as the second batter of the eighth. There were no runners on, we had yet to score any runs, and now the rain was starting to fall … I took the first pitch for a strike and fouled off the second pitch. The third pitch was a low ball. I thought the fourth pitch looked ripe for a hit and swung, but it dropped near the plate -- and got past the catcher. Dropped third strike, I got a jump to first base and made it safely. I was on.

… Then came our big catcher, Josh. A few pitches into his at-bat, he hit a ball deep to right field and I held up halfway between first and second to tag if the ball was caught. But the right fielder misplayed it and I took off, rounded second and headed for third. As I came around the bag there, I looked at my third base coach, thinking he would give me the stop sign. Nope, he was twirling his hand and sending me home. I rounded third at full speed and took a look at the right side where the second baseman was taking the cutoff throw and turning to throw home. I was heading for a close play at the plate. The throw to the catcher was a little to his right and as I got closer to the plate it was as if everything snapped into slow motion. I went down and lunged for the plate, my hand slapping it just before the catcher got me with his glove. The umpire yelled “Safe!” and the shutout had been broken. We were on the board. I bounced to my feet and looked down at my jersey -- I was covered from head to toe in dirt. It was beautiful.

… Josh would come into score on the fourth and last hit we’d get. Meanwhile, I caught my breath and then settled outside the dugout next to my buddy, Tom. “That was fun,” I said, referring to that play at the plate.

... That’s what it’s all about.

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