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The battle for first place

With two games to go, both of which were rescheduled due to rain, the Twins were tied for the lead of the Mustang division with a 12-2 record. Their penultimate game was yesterday against the co-leading Cardinals, against whom they’d split two games – the Cards whipped us in the season opener, and we nipped them in our last at-bat a week later. The winner of this game would finish first regardless of what happened afterwards.

The game was played at 4 PM, and it was suitably hot and muggy. On the plus side, as it was a Sunday afternoon, the kids’ families were out in force. I think relatives of two of our players accounted for about 30 fans, but everyone was represented.

We had a bit of a scare before the game when one of our star players, who we’d slotted to pitch the late innings, was late arriving. I called his mom from my cell phone and she assured me he was on his way. He’s a diabetic, and they’d checked his blood sugar as he was leaving, only to find that it was low. Having wolfed down a quick snack, he hauled ass to the field and was heading in as I was hanging up.

The game shaped up as a classic pitchers’ duel. Both hurlers had their stuff working, and both of them were striking players out left and right. The Cards scraped up a run in the bottom of the second, and the score stood at 1-0 as we batted in the top of the fourth. Three base hits and a few wild pitches later, we led 3-1. I helped by showing the guys how to make rally caps, a vital aspect of their baseball education which I had inexplicably overlooked previously. The players, who usually goof around in the dugout, were on their feet cheering. It was great to see them that into the game.

After our tardy closer shut them down in the bottom of the fourth, we added two insurance runs. One of our bottom-of-the-lineup guys, who’d gotten his first hit in the prior game, drew a one-out walk and came around to score two batters later when our leadoff man, who’d gone 0 for 2 and struck out swinging at a bad pitch his last time up, doubled to center and scored himself on an errant throw back in to the infield. We were now up 5-1.

There were some tense moments in the bottom of the fifth as our closer struggled with his control. Two batters reached, on a walk and an infield hit, and both eventually scored after wild pitches. A two-out walk brought the tying run to the plate, but our guy still had something left in his tank as he got a strikeout to end the inning.

Best of all, the clock now read 5:31 PM, meaning we had reached the 90-minute game time limit. “Ball game!” shouted the umpire, as a huge whoop emanated from our side of the stands and from our guys on the field. Gloves were thrown into the air, backs were slapped, hugs were exchanged, and as we gathered to wrap things up, the realization settled over us.

The Twins were the champions of the Timbergrove Little League Mustang Division. Go Twins!

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5 Comments

  1. William Hughes says:

    Congratulations on your team’s championship.

    I’m surprised, though, that there is a 90 time limit for your games. None of the Little Leagues I’ve ever seen have this policy, however, that might be due to the fact that the league owns the land where the games are played as opposed to city parks.

    One thought, though. Perhaps the fact that the team didn’t learn to make rally caps until the last game helped them through the season. 😉

    Congratulations, Chuck! Win Twins!

  2. Danil says:

    Worst to First after demoting the head coach? You gonna be batboy next year and run the table?

    Sounds like you are going to be paying out the nose after this winter’s arbitration hearings.

    Bravi!

  3. Patrick says:

    Now I think I know what the problem may have been in your previous outings as coach…you probably spent time teaching the little rascals things like fielding grounders, maybe looking a runner back before recording a force out or perhaps even a few moments on the intricate details of the infield fly rule.

    But only this year did you initiate them in the mystical realm of the correct positioning and wear of rally caps? Oh, Chuck, first things first. That means – rally caps, chatter and proper wind-adjusting spitting. Only then do you start shagging flies.

  4. Clearly, my failure to start out as a coach with the basics of rally cap theory was acute and unrecoverable. Thank goodness we were able to overcome it this year. A hard lesson learned, I’ll tell you. 🙂

  5. Linkmeister says:

    Only Roger Angell could have done a better game description, guy.