Game 8: Miller 3, Red Scare 2

Last night’s game was a seesaw battle where it was unclear the entire time who was going to win, and even now, the next morning, we’re still not entirely sure who will end up being crowned the winner. I can’t possibly imagine this sort of thing happening in any other kind of important contest!

This game against Miller had been delayed multiple times, originally having been scheduled to be played all the way back on October 13, before a cascade of rainouts ended up pushing it back to Election Night. We were originally supposed to get underway at 5:30, but a group of five ultimate frisbee players insisted that they had the permit for Field 3 until 6 pm and refused to move out of our outfield, so our umpire (reportedly the dad of Yankees pitcher and former 78 player Adam Ottavino, though I never 100% confirmed this) ruled that we would just have to wait until 6 pm to get started. This would eventually prove to be a significant delay.

With a long layoff after our last game, we had a rested Dylan on the mound, and he got through the first inning unscathed, on a looping liner to first that Roan snagged, a groundout to second that Taylor played smoothly for the out, a soft liner just beyond second base that fell in for a single, and finally a swinging strikeout to end the inning. In the bottom of the 1st, Jordan G led off with a walk, but was picked off first by a throw from the quick-thinking Miller catcher. Lefty starter Ezra struck out the next two batters, and we went to the 2nd scoreless.

Dylan struck out the side on 12 pitches in the 2nd, and Yates and Max led off the bottom of the inning with walks (amazingly, Yates’ first walk of the year, after leading our team in walks last season). Two strikeouts and an infield popup later, though, we were headed to the 3rd.

In the 3rd, Dylan again struck out the side, bringing our side back to the plate. Again, Ezra’s poor command of the strike zone cost him, as he walked the first two Red Scare batters, Dylan and Ben C. Jordan G struck out on a wild pitch, and though his dash to first ahead of the throw was disallowed because there was a runner on first and less than two outs (part of a rule designed to prevent catchers from intentionally dropping third strikes to get double plays), Dylan and Ben C moved up to third and second on the play. Ben M was then hit by a pitch, and Sam followed with our first hit of the night, a no-doubt single to left that scored Dylan. With the infield in, Yates hit a ball on the ground to short that the shortstop first thought about throwing home with, then instead belatedly threw to first; Yates appeared to beat the throw easily, but Mr. Ottavino called him out, as Ben C scored with the second run. That was two outs, though, and when Max flied out to right, it was on to the 4th with the Red Scare now up by 2-0.

Dylan was cruising at this point, striking out the first two batters of the inning to run his K streak to nine in a row, before leadoff hitter Hugo hit a popup that Ben M easily corraled for the third out. In the bottom of the 4th, Jordan N seemed set to draw a four-pitch walk from Miller reliever Cameron when ball four came in and hit him on the elbow; he moved to second on a wild pitch, then took off for third, but — hampered by a poor slide made more difficult by an enormous muddy patch that our players had had to fill in with extra dirt before the game — was tagged out on an excellent throw by catcher Emmett. A groundout and a strikeout later, and it was on to the 5th.

Dylan was only at 48 pitches at this point, but it was also his second time through the Miller order, so everyone had seen his pitches by now. He dug himself a quick hole with a pair of walks, then struck out the next hitter for the first out. The next batter, Zane, hit a hard grounder that got past shortstop Sam, and one run scored. Silas took a big turn at second, and Yates, hearing his teammates yelling “two! two!”, threw behind him to Ben C, who caught Silas in a rundown. Several throws later — and after Max came within a whisker of running Silas down and tagging him out at one point — Dylan’s throw to second went wild, and Silas ended up safely back at the bag.

It was the key play of the inning, as it turned out. Immediately afterward, Silas took off for third base, and Jordan G’s peg down to Max went wild, allowing Silas to score the tying run; when the ball skipped past left fielder Ben M, Zane advanced to third. Following another strikeout, lefty swinger Samuel skipped an opposite-field grounder just to the left of Sam at short — Sam later told me his view of the ball was blocked by the runner — and Zane scored the go-ahead run. Another single followed, but Dylan picked up his 12th strikeout to finally end the top of the inning.

In the bottom of the 5th, the bottom of our order again came through, drawing a pair of leadoff walks that brought out Sam Miller to take the ball from Cameron and hand it to Silas, who last time he faced out team only struck out 16 batters in 5 innings. Not this time: His first pitch to Jordan G was a meatball that Jordan lined to center for a single, loading the bases. The next batter, Ben M, worked the count full, then swung at a high pitch — he later said it was probably ball four — and popped it up to short for the first out. Silas then froze Sam with a nasty breaking pitch for strike three, and did the same to Yates, and we were on to the 6th, with a good 20 minutes or so to go before hitting our hour-and-50-minutes time deadline.

With Dylan having thrown 80 pitches, Ben M entered the game to pitch to the bottom of the Miller order. He got a ball and two strikes on the first Miller batter … and the outfield lights went out. A minute later, the infield lights went out as well — even though they were supposed to stay on until at least 8 pm, half an hour away — and the game was ended, or suspended, or something. Final (?) score: Miller 3, Red Scare 2

That was a terrible way to end a hard-fought game, especially one where our team appeared to have plenty in the tank for a comeback in the last two innings. After the game, an exasperated Adam Fisher from the league office texted me and Sam Miller to say that we can maybe try to resume it at a later date — but with the frisbee players likely to be back next time our teams face off next Tuesday, and no guarantee that the lights will stay on then either, that’s uncertain. So we may have to end up taking this one as a tough loss, one that depended on a few key plays that didn’t quite go our way. (To Miller’s credit, their team also played flawless defense, and we did not.)

Our next game is one final matchup against Lieber tomorrow (Thursday) at 5:30 pm; I believe the frisbee players only have the permit on Mondays and Tuesdays, so we should be able to start on time. Jordan G will be absent, but I think everyone else will be there — if not, please let me know ASAP.

After that, we play Shiffman on Sunday at noon, then Miller next Tuesday at 5:30 pm. We are also approved for a makeup game vs Shiffman on Sunday, Nov. 15 at either 10 am or noon; I’ll let everyone know as soon as I hear the exact start time.