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Tipped Pitch

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Sitting at the end of the bench, I look up to see the guy who is batting in front of me, step into the on-deck circle. Every member of the team had the same bummed-out expression on their face. Every inning it was the same thing, batter-up, batter out, we had no reason to smile. The opposing pitcher doesn’t normally pitch how he was, but I guess he got a burst of luck before the game. Our pitcher was doing equally good, but he let up a lucky home run.

It took me a second to find my helmet and batting gloves in all of the clutter at the end of the bench. I slid on my batting gloves, and put on my helmet. After patting my helmet to make sure it was tight, I found my favorite bat that was always in its same spot hanging on the chain-link fence. I stood at the edge of the dugout, and waited to step into the on-deck circle.

I decided to watch the pitcher, and try to figure out his releasing point and how hard he was throwing certain pitches. I noticed something peculiar about one of his pitches. He threw two straight change-ups, and each time he had the batter fooled. I noticed each time he threw his change-up, he took a bigger step back than usual, and made his motion was more exaggerated than normal. Now that I figured that out, I was praying that he would throw me a change-up.

While in deep thought, I didn’t notice that the batter in front of me hit a triple off of the first pitch. What a great way to put all the weight on me. The coach turned to me and told me how many outs there were. Two. He also told me that there was no pressure, and it doesn’t matter if I get out. I really knew what he was thinking though. He was actually saying in his head,”I swear, if this kid doesn’t get a hit I’m going to quit.”

I walked up to the batter’s box with a little self-confidence. What if I strike-out? Hopefully that doesn’t happen. I dig my back foot in to the dark dirt, and my front foot is holding me balanced at the top of the batter’s box. Before I knew it, the pitcher was in his wind-up. I watch him carefully to see if was tipping his pitch. Nope. Fastball, outside for a ball. I step out of the box, take a breath, and set myself back in for the next pitch. Is he tipping the pitch? No, once again. Another fastball, inside and low for a strike. I do the same routine, but my coach gives me the “swing away” sign, which means if it’s close, swing. I stare down the pitcher, and he starts his wind up and does something different. His movements are big, and I know which pitch is coming next. I watch the slower than usual speed of the ball near me. I put everything I have into the swing. POP! The sound of the bat brings joy to my ears. The ball goes screaming down the first base line. The right fielder gives chase, but it ends up getting past him and rolls to the corner.

Before I know it I’m rounding first, and heading for second. The runner on third scored, so it’s tied up, for now. The crowd is going wild, but the only noises I hear are the ones on the field. Halfway to second, I look and see my third base coach waving me to third. I touch second with my toe, and push off. I put my head down and dig knowing that the throw from the outfield is going to be close. I slide headfirst into third, dirt flies up into my face. Was I out? In all of the confusion, I feel something hit the bottom of my spikes. It was the ball. I look up at my third base coach form the cloud of dust. He’s is already way ahead of me I can tell by the big movements, he wanted me to go home. I approve his recommendation, and head for home. My legs are pumping, and my heart is beating faster than ever before. I see the catcher guarding the plate, and the umpire ready to call the play. My instincts tell me what to do, and I slide on the outside of the plate. My hand is the only part of my body that touches the plate. The catcher lands on top of me, hoping to stop me from scoring, but it’s too late. Unbelievable. My teammates swarm out from the dugout and give me high-fives. I couldn’t understand how none of my team noticed that the pitcher was tipping his change-up. I’m just glad I noticed it for the only runs that mattered.





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