It’s playoff time. We’re in the upper bracket, called the American League. We’re the #1 seed, since we finished in first place.
This means we’re playing the #8 seed, the Oakdale Red Sox. We played these guys in the regular season, and while we got in trouble early, we came back and won it 20-5.
If we win tonight, we’re playing Saturday afternoon, and can do no worse than 4th place overall. If we lose, we’re playing on Saturday morning at 8:45 am. Nobody wants that.
We win the coin toss, and choose to be the home team, so we take the field. Alex cruises through the first inning, with a comebacker to the mound that he throws to Lucas at first for the first out, a soft liner to the shortstop and a strikeout. He threw just 4 pitches to the first two batters, and eight total in the inning. In the bottom of the inning, Luke walks, then steals second and third with Alex batting. Alex walks and Luke steals home on the passed ball. Alex then steals second and third with Marco batting. Marco strikes out, but Lucas hits a single to score Alex. That’s all we manage, though, as the Red Sox starter, the same big lefty we saw before, gets Anthony and Elijah to strike out, mixing in a harmless walk to Sam.
2-0 Ironpigs. We’re in business.
The second inning does not go according to plan at all. Alex gives up a single to the first batter, who steals second and third, then tags up and scores on a fly ball. Another single puts a runner aboard, who makes it all the way around, scoring on an errant throw to third. A walk puts a third runnner aboard, who steals his way to third, then scores when we botch a rundown – we had the runner picked off third, but threw the ball away and gave up the run. Alex settles down and gets the third out with a strikeout, but the damage is done – we’ve given up 3 runs and we’re losing.
In the bottom of the second, we have our first baserunning adventure – Steven leads off with a big fly ball to deep center, but he overruns second base and is tagged out. Justin and Joey go down swinging, and we’re going to the third, trailing by a run.
3-2 Red Sox. This could be trouble.
Alex is mad now, and he gets the first two batters in the top of 3 to strike out, then gets a roller to third for an easy 5-3 play to end the inning and keep the Sox from adding to their lead. Joey leads off the bottom of the inning for us and strikes out, but Luke gets a single, Alex walks, Marco hits a double, Lucas walks (with Marco scoring on yet another passed ball), Anthony walks (with Lucas scoring on, you guessed it, another passed ball), and the Red Sox finally pull their starter and put in another pitcher. He gets Sam to fly out and Elijah to strike out, but we’ve scored 4 runs to take back the lead. This is Ironpigs baseball.
6-3 Ironpigs. We’re back.
Marco comes in to pitch the 4th inning, and gives up a single to the leadoff hitter, who makes it around to score as Marco is retiring the next three batters. In the bottom of the 4th, our 8-9-10-11 hitters come up to bat and keep the pressure on. Single from Steven, single from Justin, single from Sean to load the bases. Joey hits a sharp ball up the middle for a fielder’s choice that scores two, then he steals second and third, and we get our second baserunning adventure – Luke hits a ball to deep right field that the right fielder makes a great catch on. Joey took off when the ball was in the air, and didn’t hear me yelling “back back back!”, so he’s at home plate by the time the ball is caught. The Sox fielder follows up his great catch with a great throw, and the relay beats Joey back to third base, so he’s out. If he’d tagged up, he’d have scored easily from third and we’d still be batting, but instead, it’s a double play – 9-4-5.
The 5th inning is back on plan; Marco strikes out the side, making it look easy. Alex leads off with his third walk of the game, Marco hits his second double, then takes third and scores on yet another passed ball. Lucas strikes out – the first time I can recall him doing that in weeks, Anthony hits into a 5-3 fielding play, Sam walks, Elijah strikes out to end the inning. Two more runs for us.
The 6th inning is all about Luke. He’s in full-on closer mode, retiring the Red Sox 9-10-11 hitters with three neat strikeouts. The bottom of the 6th has our third wacky baserunning adventure. After Steven strikes out to end the inning, Justin hits a single, then steals his way to third. Sean strikes out, but the catcher drops the ball, so we’re yelling at Sean to run to first. He does, and the catcher throws to get him, and Justin steals home. Except he misses home plate, and as soon as the next batter steps in, the Red Sox protest and the umpire calls Justin out. Inning over.
We’re still leading by 6 runs, but the top of the Red Sox order is coming up, and there is no limit to scoring in the 7th inning. Not to worry, though, because Luke is still in closer mode. He strikes out the leadoff hitter, gets a great play by Sam on a fly ball to deep center for the second out, and gets the last out of the game on a 1-4-3 play, with the ball hitting off his glove and a nice catch by Anthony at second to Lucas at first.
Final score: 10-4 Ironpigs.
Tournament record: 1-0. We get to sleep in on Saturday.