Today’s game vs. the SFX Mezzo-Lui Mets wasn’t a lot like anything familiar at all. The weirdness started in the top of the first, when Jordan N led off by drawing a walk, moved to second on a botched force play when the pitcher’s throw to second went wild, and made it to third on an infield single by Isaac. With the bases loaded and none out and the heart of our order up, Mets pitcher Tom bore down to strike out Luke and Yates to make it two outs. Coaching third as the sole coach present, I told Jordan N to head for home if there was a wild pitch — which there then was, and he headed for home, but the Mets catcher grabbed the ricochet off the backstop and easily beat him to the bag, reaching out to make the tag … and Jordan N leaped back as the catcher’s glove and the catcher himself swept harmlessly past, then jumped forward to step on the plate for our first run.
That was our last scoring chance for a long while, as Tom and the Mets defense utterly shut down our offense, racking up nine strikeouts, no hits, and just a solitary walk through four innings pitched after Isaac’s 1st-inning single. Meanwhile, Isaac and Ben M were nearly matching that pitching feat for the Green Blueberries, with Isaac holding the Mets to three runs (only one unearned — progress!) over the first three innings, and Ben M holding them scoreless in the 4th and 5th. Our hurlers were aided in this by some spectacular defense, particularly on the part of our outfield, with Jordan N making a backpedaling snow-cone catch in center to help shut down a rally in the 1st, and supersub Silas and Yates making Swoboda-esque lunging catches in right and left, respectively, in the 4th and 5th.
I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, though, because before the bottom of the 5th came the top of the 5th, which requires its own paragraph, at least. With one out, Jordan N struck out on a pitch in the dirt, then raced to first on the wild pitch. Ben M followed with a grounder that died in the grass between the mound and the third-base line, for just our second hit of the game. Isaac walked, then Luke hit a slow grounder to short that no one could make a play on, as Jordan N scored the Berries’ second run. Yates worked a walk to tie the game up, then Emmett cracked a hard opposite-field grounder — the only ball we would hit out of the infield all day — that hugged the first-base line for a two-run single and a 6-3 lead.
As noted above, Ben M hurled his second shutout inning in the bottom of the 5th, then we failed to score in the top of the 6th as Mets reliever Jamil kept the game in hand. With the 5 pm curfew coming up — since we had canceled our second game thanks to insufficient players, we could have played seven innings in the one remaining game, but as Yates and Isaac both had to leave at 5 sharp, Coach Scott Mezzo had agreed to have a hard stop at that time — this would likely be last licks, unless Ben M could turn a quick 1-2-3 inning. He couldn’t: After a line drive that third baseman Dylan nimbly snagged, Ben M walked the next batter, then hit the next (on a controversial check swing, but the lone ump ruled that the ball hit the batter before he could completely swing), then walked two more to bring the Mets within two runs, with only one out and the tying and winning runs on base.
In came Dylan out of the bullpen, after having thrown two long innings the night before. The first batter, Jamil, was no match for Dylan’s assortment of hard breaking pitches, going down swinging on three pitches. A ball followed to the next batter, the dangerous Lucien — who’d tripled to deep center earlier in the game — but then Lucien crushed another line drive to deepest center. That’s where Jordan N was playing him, though, and he needed to take only two steps to the side to easily glove the ball for the final out. 78 deMause 6, SFX Mezzo-Lui 4
It was lots of fun to have a competitive game for a change, and one where we played excellent baseball against a tough team, coming away with a well-deserved win. We now stand at 5-9 on the year — I think that puts us in 4th place out of six teams, but I won’t be sure until we get the standings update early next week. We have two regular-season games left: Monday vs. Mezzo-Lui again, then Wednesday vs. 78 Lieber. Hopefully today’s game was a harbinger of better things to come, and we can go into the postseason double-elimination tournament next weekend on a high note.
Good luck to Jeremy and Nathan in ICE’s semifinal playoff game tomorrow, and see you all on Monday,