We’re riding a winning streak, and feeling good about it. But that doesn’t mean we can take it easy – on any given day, any team can beat you. They just have to play a little bit better that day.
For our 9th game, we faced the Oakdale Red Sox. With a 5-2-1 record, they’re a decent team. Their starting pitcher was a lefty with good stuff, but we managed to piece together two singles, two walks, a bunch of stolen bases and four passed balls to score 4 runs while he was striking out 3 batters. The Sox got one back in the bottom of the first, thanks to an error.
We added 4 more runs in the second on a double, a single and two errors, as the Red Sox starter again got all three of his outs on strikeouts. We’re up 8-1, and it’s feeling like another cruise to victory. And then we started making errors in the field, and there are runners at 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. A double scores two, a passed ball scores another, another double scores one more, before we finally get off the field, having given up 4 runs because we gave the Red Sox 6 outs.
Coming off the field, Craig called the guys together and told them they needed to play better. “Get your heads in the game, guys! You’re better than that! You need to play this game, right here, or we’re going to get beat! Marco had to get six outs in that inning, guys. We need to do better!”
They listened. We scored two more runs in the top of the third, and Marco had a one-two-three inning, with a strikeout and two solid fielding plays – a grounder to Alex at first base and a popup fielded cleanly by Steven at third base. We added another three runs in the fourth inning, and Alex came in to pitch. I think he threw 10 pitches – strike, strike, strike (out), strike, strike, ball, strike (out), strike, strike, strike (out, inning over).
In the 5th, we put another three runs on the board, and Alex faced just three batters in the bottom of the inning.
The 6th inning started with Sam reaching on an error, Elijah hitting a single to score Sam, and Steven hitting a monster home run that rolled all the way to the pitching mound on the next field over. Three more runs for us, and then the Sox threatened again, with a one-out single that put a runner aboard, who stole 2nd and then 3rd. Luke, pitching as usual in the closer spot, struck out the Sox #4 and #5 batters to end the inning without a run scoring, and finished the inning just in time for us to start the 7th (can’t start a new inning after 8:15, and we finished the 6th at 8:10 – just in the nick of time).
We scored one more in the 7th, despite the Sox getting their second double play of the game on a pop fly – Alex was stealing second, and got a huge lead off the pitcher, so he was rounding second by the time Marco hit the ball, and was not able to put the brakes on and get back to first in time to avoid the double play. Luke struck out the side in the bottom of the 7th to end the game.
We started off taking it easy, and it got us in trouble. We learned, took the game seriously, and ended up with our highest-scoring game of the year.
Ironpigs pitchers got 14 strikeouts, Red Sox pitchers got 11 – both respectable numbers. The difference was in fielding – we gave up 3 errors, they made 7. And we had one passed ball that scored a run, while they had at least 8. Our pitching is a huge asset, but a big part of that is our catchers. All three of them are excellent, and it’s a joy to watch them work.
Final score: Red Sox 5, Ironpigs 20.
Season record: 9-0