Fall Ball, Game 1: Iron Express at St. Paul Midway – Extra outs

First games are always nerve-wracking. First game in a new league is doubly so. And since we’ve stepped up a level, playing in a 14-and-under league at the Competitive instead of Recreational, we have no idea what to expect.

We do have a pretty high opinion of ourselves, though. Half of our team went 13-1 in the regular season and 3-0 in the playoffs, with their only loss coming to… the other half of our team, who went 13-1 in the regular season and 2-1 in the playoffs, with their only playoff loss coming at the hands of the first half of our team. We’re pretty solid, especially on the defense side. The thing you can’t afford to do is to give a team extra outs. If you do that, they’re going to use them to beat you.

1st inning:
We were the visitors, so we batted first. We got a run on a single from Luke P and some aggressive baserunning. In the bottom of the inning, Alex gave up an unearned run; the first batter got on base with an E6, as Marco lost a fly ball in the sun and it bounced off his leg. He wound up on second, and scored on a double from the #2 batter. Alex settled down and got three quick outs on a nice catch of a soft fly by Lucas B, a solid 6-3 play and a strikeout.

Tied, 1-1.

2nd inning:
We went down quickly on two strikeouts and a fly to 3rd base in the top of the inning. In the bottom, Alex gave up two more runs, despite getting two strikeouts. We just weren’t fielding crisply, and the St Paul boys were finding places to hit the ball where we didn’t have fielders.

We’re behind, 3-1.

3rd inning:
New pitcher from the St Paul side, and we started to click at the plate. Three walks loaded the bases for Anthony, batting in the #12 spot (which won’t be the case for long). He hit a single to score 2 runs, and we kept going. We ended up sending 10 guys to the plate and scoring 6 runs to put us back in the lead. In the bottom of the inning, Brandon came in to pitch got three quick outs: a popup to short, a foul fly that Luke P handled against the fence at 3rd, a walk and then another foul fly to Luke at 3rd.

We’re winning, 7-3.

4th inning:
A new pitcher from the St Paul side shut us down hard, with a grounder to first, a walk and then a 6-4-3 double play. We took the field for the bottom of the inning and did our best to return the favor. We didn’t quite manage it, with Brandon facing a total of 5 batters, but we don’t give up any runs: walk, strikeout, 4 unassisted, walk, 5 unassisted. Brandon’s pretty clearly a fly ball pitcher at this point, and it’s working for us.

We’re still winning, 7-3.

5th inning:
St Paul still wants to get back into the game, and to do that, they need to keep us from scoring runs. In the top of the inning, they did that: strikeout, strikeout, single, 5-3. In the bottom of the inning, Luke P came in to pitch and kept the lid on, giving up one run on two strikeouts, two singles and an out on the bases.

We’re still winning, 7-4.

6th inning:
We’re up against the time limit, so this is the last inning. St Paul has got to keep us from scoring and then get 4 runs to win. We, obviously, have different plans. Ryan leads off and gets aboard on an error (E3), steals second, then scores as Nate gets on with another error (E5). Marco hits a double, scoring Nate. Lucas B strikes out for the first out. Kieran gets aboard on the 3rd error of the inning (E4), then steals second, with Marco scoring on the throw (which was not charged as an error, but should have been). Brandon hits into a 5-3 play for the second out, then David gets aboard on the 4th error of the inning (!, E6), with the ball rolling out into right field on the throw. David winds up at second, with Kieran scoring. Alex K gets under a ball and hits a soft fly that the shortstop catches to finally end the inning, with us having scored 4 runs.

The St Paul boys haven’t given up, though. In the bottom of the 6th, we make an error (E6) that puts a runner aboard. Luke P, our usual closer, gets a strikeout and a fly to left to get two outs, but can’t quite close the deal, giving up a walk to put another runner aboard, then we make our second error of the inning (E5) to put another runner aboard and score two. A single puts runners at 1st and 2nd, who steal 2nd and 3rd on defensive indifference, before Luke finally gets the last out on a strikeout.

Errors will kill you – we made three, and two of those batters scored. St Paul Midway made five, including four in one inning. Four of those five batters scored. They gave us a lot of extra outs, and we used them well.

Final score: 11-6, Iron Express win.

Season record: 1-0

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