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The Big Game
The season was unbelievable. We finished off with a 22-5 record. We were the third best team in our division. The best team was Osceola. They went 27-0. We had already won our first two games of the playoffs against Turtle Lake and Prairie Farm. The Prairie Farm game was a blowout. We destroyed them. But the Turtle Lake game was a tough game where we barely won in the end. The team and I went to watch the Osceola vs. Clear Lake game. The winner would advance to the championship game tomorrow against us.
As we got there CJ yelled, “Clear Lake’s up 6-3 in the 6th!”
“I’m coming to watch!”, I yelled back to CJ.
I was shocked that Clear Lake could even hang with Osceola, we crushed Clear Lake every time we played each other. Clear Lake was one of those teams that had a few “Allstars” and then rest were average but not very good. Osceola was a well-rounded team that had a lot of skill in all of the positions.
When I got to the field Clear Lake was up 6-3. Apparently one of Clear Lake’s better players hit a three-run homer. The game ended up going to the 15th inning. So, it basically came down to whoever had more pitchers. Since Osceola was a team with a lot of skill, they ended up winning 9-8. Clear Lake ran out of people who could actually throw strikes, which is why they lost. I ate a good supper that night and went to bed early. In the morning I had eggs, bacon, sausage, and hash browns for breakfast. I was ready for this game. My baseball team was decent, we had good chemistry. That chemistry helped us get to the championship. We all trusted one another and were good friends on and off the field.
The championship game was in Hudson, on one of the nicest fields we’ve ever been to. The bus ride was pretty boring. Usually people would blast their music and go crazy during the bus rides, but not today. The bus ride was mostly quiet. Everyone was listening to their music quietly and just trying to stay focused. I could tell that everyone was nervous, it was going to be a tough game. After what seemed like forever, we finally got to the field. Everyone got out of the bus and stretched since it was a long bus ride to Hudson. After stretching we all started towards the dugouts. The dugouts were nice and looked like they were made for a Major League team. I grabbed a ball and started towards the outfield to warm up my arm. CJ was out there talking with some of our teammates. I grabbed him as a partner, and we started playing catch.
We went through all our warmup drills before coach finally called us over to go over our game plan. Our coach said, “Boys, this is just another game. Just play like you’ve been playing all year and we’ll win this game”.
As we were walking to our dugouts the umpire yelled, “PLAY BALL!”
We were the visiting team, so we had to bat first. Osceola’s pitcher was the best pitcher in the area, which is one reason why they are so good. Our first three batters got struck out in the first three pitches of their at bat. We all ran to the outfield hoping we could at least stop them defensively. Their lead-off batter hit a line drive single to center field. Their second batter crushed it down the first base line. By the time our right fielder could get to it the runner from first was already home and the batter got a triple. The third batter popped it up into deep left field, I ran back to it and caught it. Then the runner on third tagged up and bolted towards home. I took a big crow hop and put everything I had into the throw. The throw got to the plate just a second after the runner crossed the plate. The fourth batter popped in up into the infield and the next batter struck out.
We only let them score two runs, which wasn’t that bad since they were the best team in the area. Our next batter struck out, but the batter after him got hit by the pitch. After that our next guy popped out at first. Then I came up to the plate. I wasn’t the best batter and I couldn’t really hit anything other than a fastball, but I felt confident for some reason. The first pitch looked like a curveball that dropped low. The umpire called it a ball. The second pitch was a fastball that was in the upper inside part of the strike zone. It was called a strike. The count was 1 in 1, we really needed a hit. The third pitch was right down the middle, and I swung hard. I felt the ball hit the bat hard. I watched the ball soar towards the outfield, and I took off running faster than ever. As I got towards first the first base coach waved me towards second. As I was running, I glanced over to see where the ball was, that was a big mistake. The outfielder rifled the ball towards second as I slid towards the base.
The field umpire yelled, “Out!”
I was praying I wouldn’t hear those words. I slumped my shoulders and prepared to be scolded at for watching the ball. When I got to the dugout, I got a disappointing look from my coach. He didn’t say anything, but I felt bad for letting them down. The next few innings were a stalemate. Nothing really happened that was very interesting. In the fifth inning our top batter crushed a one run home run. The team and all of our fans went crazy; the score was now 2-1. In the top of the sixth inning our shortstop, Todd, hit a line drive right back at their pitcher and hit him right in the ankle. Our team felt bad for him, but we were actually kind of happy. That pitcher was the only thing holding us back. Now we could actually win this game. In the next inning I hit a slow roller towards third base. The infield was grass so it slowed the ball down even more. I easily beat the throw to first. Our next two batters walked, then we had full bases. The bottom two batters in our order were up. The first one struck out, which was expected. Things started to get more intense. We had two outs with full bases and our worse hitter was up to bat.
The first pitch came, “Strike!” yelled the umpire.
“You got this Forrest!” I yelled over to him from third base.
Then the next pitch came, “Strike two!”
I could see the nervous look on Forrest’s face. I felt bad for him because we needed a hit badly and there was little hope that he would get one. I glanced over to the pitcher and saw a smirk come across his face. Now I really wanted Forrest to get a hit, not just to get a run in but I wanted Forrest to knock that smirk right off that guy’s face. The next pitch was a fastball straight down the middle. Forrest swung the bat as hard as he could. There was a ding and then the ball popped up into the shallow out field. The second base men had to run straight back and look into the sun to try and catch the ball. That’s a really hard thing to do, I wasn’t surprised when he covered his head because he lost the ball in the sun. By the time the ball dropped I was already crossing home plate with my other teammate right behind me. We ended up scoring two runs on that hit.
I was greeted by my team with high fives and pats on the back. The score was 3-2 and we just had to hold them to zero runs in the next couple innings. Our leadoff hitter hit the gap between center and left field and got an easy double. Another run scored. The score was now 4-2. Our next batter hit a line drive right to the short stop and he made that catch easily.
Before we left for the field our coach shouted, “We just got to hold them boys.”
But that was easier said than done. They started a rally of singles after singles. In just a few minutes the score was tied up again at 4-4. They had one guy on third when their best hitter came up to the plate. All of us out fielders backed up until we were close to the fence. I was hoping our coach would intentionally walk him just in case he crushed a home run. But he didn’t. The first pitch was a curveball that curved down the middle. The batter read the pitch perfectly and crushed it as soon as it crossed the plate. I saw the ball come soaring towards me. I couldn’t tell if the ball was going to go over the fence or just fall short of it. Just when I thought the ball would start coming down to me it soared even farther past me. By then I just knew that that ball was gone. They hit a home run. We finished off the rest of the inning with a couple strikeouts. Nothing happened in the 8th inning. In the top of the 9th inning we were losing 6-4. We needed at least two runs to stay in the game. The first batter hit a single. The second batter walked. I was next up to bat. The first pitch was a curve ball that looked a little inside.
The umpire shouted, “Strike!”
The next pitch was a fastball that looked a little outside. The umpire called that one a strike too. I was nervous. I could feel my heart beating against my chest. The pitcher had that little smirk on his face again. That made me angry, I gripped my bat as hard as I could and waited for the next pitch. The pitcher brought his leg up and started his pitch. All of a sudden everything slowed down. I identified the pitch as a screwball. It would break to my left once it got closer to the plate. The ball was slowly getting closer. I put all my anger into my swing and swung as hard as I could. I felt a vibration on the bat and knew that I hit the ball. It felt as if it was going to be a big hit. I ran to first as hard as I could and then rounded towards second base. I heard my coaches yelling at me to head towards third base.
As I was approaching the base I heard people shouting, “Get down!”
I dove towards the base and heard the ball bounce off of my helmet. I glanced up and saw the ball rolling slowly towards the fence. I got up and ran towards home plate. At the time it felt like one of the biggest moments in my life. I slid towards home with ease and the throw wasn’t even close to getting me out. The crowd and everyone around me were cheering. I got another series of high fives and pats on the back from my teammates in the dugout. We ended up holding Osceola to no runs in the bottom of that inning, which meant we actually won the championship. So that’s the story of my championship baseball experience.