Game 3: Green Blueberries 11, 78 Lieber 4

To make a super-long story short: We arrived at 8 am on Field 1 to find giant lakes of water on the infield; shifted to Field 2, which was in somewhat better shape; spent our hour of scheduled practice time dumping dirt from a wheelbarrow onto that field until it was playable; and finally, with the help of a last-second phone call by opposing coach Erik Lieber to Eddie Albert, convinced the Bonnies to let us play one game on Field 2 even though they had a permit to use it for practice. There was more drama along the way — the “dense fog alert” my phone received at 7:30 am was just one highlight — but that’s the basics of why we were able to play only one game today against 78 Lieber, but at least had no time limit for it.

As the visiting team, our side got things started in the 1st with a one-out infield single by Jeremy, followed by a line single to left by Jordan G in his season debut, with Jordan G taking second on the fruitless throw to third. A wild pitch by Lieber starter Ben Z scored Jeremy, but then Jordan G tried the same trick a few pitches later and was tagged out by Lieber catcher Max English. Ben M (back from his ankle sprain) and Isaac drew walks, but were stranded, keeping the score at 1-0.
Since Dylan’s LaGuardia game had been rained out yesterday, he was available to take the mound for the Greens in the bottom of the 1st. Leadoff batter Ben Z drew a walk, moved to second on a groundout, and third on a wild pitch, then scored on a groundout to Jeremy at short. Dylan froze Ollie Lieber looking for the final out, but the score was now knotted at 1 apiece.
If that wasn’t a weird enough rally, we got an even weirder one in the top of the 2nd, as Roan led off with a walk, and then, one out later, Zach forced him at second on a groundout. Zach then moved up to second on a wild pitch, and took off for third — and disproved the old saw about never risking making the third out at third (at least in this league) when the throw sailed into left field and he scored the go-ahead run.
Dylan struck out three batters (wrapped around two walks) in a scoreless bottom of the 2nd, and Ben Z struck out two (along with one walk) to return the favor in the top of the 3rd. In the bottom of the third, Ben Z again walked, then time stealing second, then moving to third on yet another runner-advancing grounder; it paid off, as he scored the tying run when Lieber #3 hitter Teddy Yankauer dropped a bloop into shallow center for the first hit of the game off Dylan, and a 2-2 tie score.
Neither team scored in the 4th, thanks in part to Jordan G throwing to third so far ahead of attempted attempted basestealer Augie Swetow (yes, I happen know a lot of surnames for players on Lieber, from when I assistant coached them nine years ago for Mike Hartman’s team) that Augie got caught in a rundown by third baseman Yates and shortstop Jeremy, and ultimately tagged out. That took us to the top of the 5th, when Ben Z finally yielded the mound to a reliever, Cal.
The first Greens hitter hit a foul popup for an out — and then the floodgates opened. Ben R lashed a single to right, stole second, and advanced to third on a balk; when Jordan N legged out a grounder to short for an infield single, we had the lead again. Walks to Jeremy, Jordan G, and Ben M followed, then Isaac topped a ball 40 feet down the third base line, where it stopped dead in fair ground, as Jeremy raced home with another run, Dylan — who’d been pinch-run for by Ganden the previous inning but was allowed to re-enter the game in his old spot because it’s a Freshman rule thing — drew a walk to plate another run, and then Roan delivered an RBI groundout. A walk to Yates loaded the bases, at which point it was finally the moment to bring Luke in off the bench as a pinch-hitter — and he delivered with a two-run single to right, capping a 7-run inning that made the score 9-2.
Things were pretty anticlimactic from there on out: Isaac (who’d entered the game at pitcher in the 4th) hurled two more scoreless innings, with the help of another nifty fielding play where right fielder Roan threw out a runner who ill-advisedly tried to go from first to third on a single, with Jeremy tossing to Ben M at third for the tag. We picked up two more runs in the 9th when Ben M was hit by a pitch, Isaac beat out a single and both runners moved up on a throwing error, and Dylan followed with a two-run single. Jordan G then closed things out in the bottom of the 7th, and while his command was a bit shaky — three walks and a hit batsman — he settled down to strike out Ollie and get the next batter Charlie to ground out to Jeremy at short, who briefly bobbled the ball before calmly tossing to Luke at first for the final out. 78 deMause 11, 78 Lieber 4
This was, needless to say, a much more satisfying game than last week’s; not having to face the powerhouse HN Meehan team certainly helped, but we also played much better, putting more balls in play, pitching more consistently, and fielding almost flawlessly, in particular getting opposing runners out time after time on the basepaths. (Jordan G also picked a runner off first from behind the plate, and Yates, after entering the game to catch the 7th, gunned down a runner attempting to steal third.) It was the kind of top-to-bottom contribution that we routinely put together last year, and the kind of play we’re going to need to keep up in order to beat the tougher competition this season.
Thanks to all the players who turned up early for batting practice even though we couldn’t take any, thanks to all the players and coaches who helped lug dirt and bail puddles, and thanks especially to Luke’s dad and everyone else who tried in vain to get Field 1 in condition for us to play a second game on it after our first was done. (It was like trying to bail Lake Ontario.) Enjoy spring break next week, those who have it, and we’ll work on putting some more Ws up three weeks from today, when we face off against 78 Shiffman in yet another doubleheader.