Games 7 and 8: Green Blueberries 14, 78 Lieber 5 and Green Blueberries 14, 78 Lieber 3

Two outs into the third inning of game one of today’s doubleheader against the winless 78 Lieber, things couldn’t have been going much worse for the Green Sox. Starting pitcher Isaac had been yanked after just one inning, as he’d struggled through a tired arm while giving up four runs in the 1st on two walks, a long double to right center, a bloop single to left, and a fielding error. Meanwhile, we’d managed three hits off Lieber starter Oliver, but no runs, as all of our runners had been stranded.

Then, with two down and none on in the bottom of the 3rd, Ben M cracked a double to left, and Dylan followed with an RBI single through the left side to put the Green Sox on the board. Isaac followed with another single to left, and then Luke and Roan found the same hole as Dylan, and suddenly we were within one run. When Yates hit a dribbler that died on the grass in no-man’s land in front of third, it looked like the rally might continue, but Luke was caught in a rundown between home and third; still, the deficit stood at a more manageable 4-3.
One inning later, the two-out magic continued: After a leadoff walk to Jeremy and two quick outs, the Green Sox put together six straight singles — by Ben M, Dylan, Isaac, Luke, Roan, and finally pinch-hitter Nathan — to take an 8-4 lead.
Lieber’s side was being kept scoreless, meanwhile, by a masterful relief performance by Ben M, who entered in relief to start the 2nd and ended up ringing up nine strikeouts across four innings while giving up just four hits and one run (three of the hits and the run coming in his final inning, when he was running on fumes). Isaac drove in two more runs in the bottom of the 5th with a (what else?) two-out single, Dylan worked a hitless, scoreless four-batter top of the 6th, and we scored four more in the bottom of the 6th on RBI singles by Zach, Ben M, and Dylan and an RBI groundout by Isaac, before we hit the hour-fifty mark and the game mercifully put to an end. 78 deMause 14, 78 Lieber 5
Game two was never even that close, thanks largely to a lights-out pitching performance by Yates, who in his first-ever mound start gave up only two bloop singles and one run across his first four innings. He only collected one strikeout, but his control was excellent (only one walk in his first 4 innings pitched), and he was helped out by some stellar defense, including running catches in the outfield by Ganden and Nathan, two double plays where runners were doubled off base (one by center fielder Nathan at third, one by Yates himself on a popup to the mound where the runner on first for some reason took off for second and never went back), and a terrific lunging catch by shortstop Jeremy of a ball that looked like it was going to drop in just beyond his reach.
The Green Sox side of the scorecard, meanwhile, was as crowded as the traffic on the way to the park on Brooklyn Half Marathon day: nine hits and 14 runs across five innings, highlighted by a two-run first-inning double to right by Nathan, a three-run 2nd-inning double over the center fielder’s head by Ben M, a pair of doubles by Luke, and walks and hit batsmen and stolen bases in bunches (Jeremy ended up with four steals on the day); the whole thing was punctuated by Yates annihilating a ball to center field with the bases loaded in the 5th, clearing the bases and missing a home run by inches when he was barely thrown out at the plate.
Yates finally ran out of pitching steam in the bottom of the 5th, giving up a run on three walks and a hit batter, but Nathan, making his first pitching appearance for our team of any kind in two years, got three quick outs (though he gave up one more run on a botched pickoff throw) to nail down the sweep. 78 deMause 14, 78 Lieber 3
There’s not a lot that needs to be said after a day where we outhit the other team 29 to 8 and outscored them 28 to 8, but it’s worth noting that our two main bugaboos so far this year — fielding mistakes and baserunning gaffes — were hardly to be seen on the day, which was a welcome sign of progress. And yeoman’s work on the mound by Ben M, Yates, and Nathan means we head into our next three games in two days — one against 78 Lieber, the other more dangerous matchups against the undefeated 78 Shiffman and last Wednesday’s nemesis 78 Steckel — with Ganden, Dylan, Jordan G, and Luke all rested among our mound staff. It’s been an up and down season so far, but the ups have been far higher than the downs, and there are plenty of reasons to have confidence that we’re just hitting our stride; these next three games, plus a rematch on Wednesday vs 78 Shiffman, should tell us a lot, not to mention go a long way toward determining our place in the standings, where we currently (I think) sit in third place out of six teams with a 4-4 record.
Everyone get some rest (and some ice cream, or the cool refreshment of your choice), and see you tomorrow at 2:30 pm on field 3 for our two-opponent doubleheader!