This is the third game this week, and we’re playing short-handed. With three guys on vacation, we have just 9 guys. Except tonight, we’re missing Aaron, so we’re playing with 8.
This is legal; MAA rules allow us to play a game with 8 – we can even start with just 7 guys on the field, as long as we get up to 8 guys before the end of the game. Since we have 8 already, we’re good. So are the Orioles, who muster up 9 guys in time for the game to start.
We were originally supposed to play the Os back at the beginning of the season, but postponed the game due to a band concert. Their season has been pretty much the opposite of ours – another team of younger guys, they’re having problems putting together hitting and pitching in the same game, resulting in a 1-9 record.
So we’re facing a team that we should be able to beat, but we’re playing short-handed, and this one matters – the standings as of Friday (tomorrow as we play this game) will determine playoff seeding. We’re in first place ahead of the Express, but a loss would put us behind them in percentage. We don’t want that.
So we send Alex to the mound in the first. He walks the first batter, then gets a strikeout before giving up a single. We manage to hold the runners, and Alex gets another strikeout, and then a popup to short. In the bottom of the inning, we also send 5 guys to the plate, but some aggressive baserunning gets us two runs and a 2-0 lead.
Alex settles down in the second, retiring the Os 1-2-3 with a grounder to short (6-3) and two strikeouts. We bat around, sending 8 guys to the plate and scoring 4 runs.
The third inning sees the Os score a run on a two-out, nobody-on ball to the left field corner – with only 8 guys, we have a left-center fielder and a right-center fielder, and a well-hit ball that rolls all the way to the fence is a home run. It would have been a triple even with three fielders – it was a well-hit ball. Alex gives up a walk and a single before getting a ball to first base that Lucas handles for the third out. We come back big in the bottom of the inning. Sam hits a leadoff triple, Elijah follows up with a double, then Justin gets a triple. Luke walks, Alex gets a single, Marco hits a triple, Lucas walks, Anthony strikes out and Sam gets his second hit of the inning, a single, to plate the 7th run and end the inning.
Marco comes in to pitch a scoreless 4th, giving up a harmless walk while getting three strikeouts. We score 4 more runs in the bottom of the inning, although we’ve shut down the running game; the guys are not even advancing on passed balls, only on hits.
The 5th doesn’t go any better for the Os; they get a runner aboard with a walk, but he’s erased with a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. We score another 5 runs in the bottom of the inning. Sam leads off for the third time in this game, and gets his third extra-base hit (a double), and the inning ends with Anthony almost stretching a dropped third strike into a home run. The catcher overthrew first, so Craig and I were yelling at Anthony to keep going, and the Orioles finally managed to get the ball in the same place as the baserunner when he reached home plate.
This was the play I’d been trying to get on Wednesday night; a play at the plate resulting in an out. I know it’s odd to be sending your own guys into plays and hoping they’ll make outs, but we were leading by 20 runs at this point. I wanted the Os to have something to be excited about, and getting the runner at the plate is exciting. On Wednesday night, I sent a runner from third on a ball into short left field, expecting the throw to the plate and an out. Instead, the left fielder hung onto the ball, and I looked like a jerk for running up the score. Not tonight, though – the Orioles made the play for the third out.
Luke came in to pitch the sixth inning. Strikeout, strikeout, triple to left, strikeout. Since there was no time to play another inning, there was no point in us batting again, so the ump called the game.
Final score: Ironpigs 22, Orioles 1
Season record: 12-1, still in first place – and no way for anyone to displace us. Second best record is the Express at 11-1, and we beat them. Third best is the Twins, who beat us, but they’re 9-1.
First seed, here we come. We have one game left, and then it’s tournament time.