At 8 pm last night, I got an email from Adam in the league office: An undefeated Grasshoppers-level team didn’t have an opponent for its game the next morning at 8 am — could we fill in? I was skeptical given that game time was just 12 hours away, but put out an email and some texts, and soon had six players committed to waking up early to play; our opponents, Williams (the same team in black uniforms that had loaned Lieber a couple of players for a game against us earlier in the season), would loan us three more to fill out our lineup.
The day was bright but cold, 48 degrees at game time. We were the home team, as Dean — a former Williams player, I learned, who’d moved to Connecticut and is now commuting down to Brooklyn for weekend games — took the mound. Jordan N led off by working a walk, then stole second and third on the next two pitches, and commenced dancing halfway down the third-base line, Rickey Henderson–style, to try to rattle the pitcher. Ben M grounded out to third, as third base coach Joe put up the stop sign to hold Jordan N on the base. He didn’t stay there long, as Sam then got a hit in his fourth straight plate appearance, driving in the first run of the game. Sam stole second, then stayed there as Yates reached on on a soft popup that landed in no-man’s land on the left side of the infield for a single. Taylor moved the runners up with a groundout to first, then Sam scored on a wild pitch; when the catcher’s throw to the plate got away from the pitcher covering, and he made no move to retrieve it, Yates alertly raced home with our third run of the inning, and of the game.
With Dylan not present and Ben M having pitched five innings on Friday, Yates was pressed into action as the Red Scare starter, and set out to deliver his usual helping of groundballs, shortstop Sam making the throw to Ben M at first for the first out. Yates walked Dean, then got the next hitter Steven to hit a grounder to third, but it eluded Taylor, and two runners were on. Yates next unleashed a wild pitch that got past Jordan N (catching for the day in the absence of our first-, second-, and third-string catchers), and Dean raced all the way around to score from second while Steven ended up on third. The next hitter, Jesse, found the same hole right over the third-base bag that Miller’s team had Friday night, ending up with a single. Yates got the next hitter to ground to Taylor again, and she fielded it cleanly and made a smooth throw to first, then the next hitter popped the ball up to the first-base side of the mound where Yates caught it easily for the third out.
The score was now 3-2 Red Scare, with our adopted teammates, Ryan, Kyle, and Martin, due up. Ryan led off with a walk, then stole second, then moved to third and home on wild pitches, and it was now a 4-2 lead.
Yates struck out the first batter in the bottom of the 2nd, but the next two hitters delivered singles to center (one a rocket, the other a soft looper); a walk to leadoff hitter Evan loaded the bases and brought up Dean. Yates’ arsenal of breaking pitches was still keeping the Williams hitters off-balance, though, and Dean popped a ball high in the air to the first-base side of the plate, Jordan N tossing aside his mask and racing to the backstop to make a nifty basket catch for out #2. Steven then grounded to Sam at third, who stepped on the bag for the third out.
Lefty hurler Logan entered the game for Williams, and we ended up getting three runs on a flurry of walks, stolen bases, and wild pitches, plus a single that Yates grounded through the left side. The high point of the inning, or maybe the low point, or maybe both, was when Taylor took off from second for third, found no throw waiting for her but realized Yates was already there, headed back to second, and was tagged out, but Yates managed to score in al the confusion, which I guess counts as a steal of home.
Yates ran into some trouble in the bottom of the 3rd, giving up a single down that pesky third-base line and a walk, then trying to throw home on a grounder to the mound and ending up with no outs to show for it. Three pitches into the next batter, he looked to be having some discomfort in his shoulder, and said he “thought it was okay”; not wanting to leave injury to chance, I brought in Ben M, barely 36 hours after his five-inning stint on Friday. He wasn’t as sharp as he had been then, allowing the remaining inherited runner to score, but still struck out three (one reached on a dropped third strike) before borrowed shortstop Ryan made a spectacular grab of a soft line drive to get us out of the inning.
The Red Scare opened the floodgates in the 4th and 5th, scoring eight more times, though mostly on walks and errors. (Our only two hits were by Ben M, the second a massive clout to right field on which he was only held to a double by virtue of the slow outfield grass at Parade Grounds Field 3.) The opponents, by contrast, went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 4th — the first a seeming hit to right field that supersub Ellis turned into an out by throwing quickly to his brother Yates at first before the batter reached the bag. With Ben M completely out of gas, Sam pitched the bottom of the 5th, and merely struck out the side to nail down an easy win. Red Scare 11, Williams 5
I was uncertain whether to count this as an official game, given that we were facing younger players and had several members of their team on our side; but, you know, they were every bit as good as some of the teams in our age group, so our players’ efforts deserve to count. (I still have no idea if this will count toward final standings, or if official final standings will be kept, or if there will be a postseason tournament to crown a champion; hopefully the league will clarify some of this soon.)
And now we are on to our rematch with Miller, this Thursday at 5:30. Please try to show up by 4:30 if you can for practice; if Friday’s game is any indication, we’re going to need every hit and every bit of good glovework to keep this winning streak going.