The Red Scare’s season finale against Shiffman began like so many other games this season: With uncertainty whether we’d even be able to play. Once again, we were met with two large puddles on Parade Grounds Field 3, one next to third base and one on the first-base line near home plate; both teams chipped in to scoop out the mud and shovel in fresh dirt, and we were able to get started just 15 minutes past our scheduled 9:00 game time.
We were the visiting team, and wasted no time putting runners on base against starter Eli Shiffman: With one out in the 1st, Ben M and Sam delivered near-identical line singles to right-center, putting two aboard. Following a forceout at second on a grounder by Yates, who then stole second, Max hit a grounder to short and hustled down the line, drawing a wild throw that scored both Ben M and Yates for a 2-0 Red Scare lead.
With Dylan on Staten Island in preparation for a Huskies playoff game, Ben M took the mound against Shiffman’s Raiders’ murderer’s row of hitters. Eli started things off with a single through the right side, then Sergei unleashed a mammoth blow well over the head of left fielder Taylor for an RBI double. A walk, a single, two hit batters, and — after a strikeout and a popup to Yates at first — a single by Ben “Boomer” Shifrel (Jordan G, Jordan N, and Shiloh’s old elementary-school classmate) brought the score to 5-2 Raiders.
The Red Scare failed to score in the top of the 2nd, and Shiffman’s squad put three more runs on the board in the bottom of the inning, though Ben M did strike out three Raiders batters. (The inning might well have ended up scoreless if Eli’s leadoff single just over the glove of a leaping Shiloh at second base had been just two feet lower.) Jordan G and Ben M led off the top of the 3rd with singles, but Jordan G was thrown out by the left fielder as he tried to take an extra base, and the rally fizzled from there. Ben M kept the Raiders hitless in the bottom of the inning, though they did score one run on two walks, another hit by pitch, and an error.
Ben M also had racked up 101 pitches by this point, so needed to be removed. In came Yates with his assortment of soft-tossed pitches, which did the trick in keeping the Raiders hitters off-balance: He scattered four hits across two innings, giving up only a single run; any Shiffman hopes for more ended when we got out of a two-on, one-out situation in the 5th thanks to Max, who grabbed a grounder to third, raced to touch the bag for the force, then hurled the ball to Shiloh at first for an inning-ending double play.
The Red Scare finally began to string together some baserunners in the 6th off Raiders reliever Ben M (no relation to ours), as Yates led off with a long single to right, Max worked a walk, then Ben C lashed a single to left to load the bases with none out. One out later, Taylor drew a walk to push across our third run of the game, then Max sped home on a wild pitch to score another. But that was it, and with the two-hour hard time limit upon us, the game, and the season, ended there. Shiffman 10, Red Scare 4
It wasn’t the best way to end the year, but given that Shiffman’s Raiders were undefeated this season (they suffered one tie in a game against Nachsin), it wasn’t entirely unexpected — and we did play well, putting 12 runners on base and hitting the ball for hard outs in lots of other at-bats. (That 1st-inning error notwithstanding, the Raiders feature a murderer’s row of fielders as well.) The Red Scare finish the season with an 8-4 record, which was second-best to Shiffman in our five-team league, and included one (darkness-shortened) shutout, one no-hitter, and one memorable last-inning comeback win over Miller, with tons of clutch hits, pitching performances, and fielding plays along the way. And, maybe most impressively, we managed to play 12 games this fall, something that didn’t look at all certain when we started tentative practices back in August without even knowing if the city would issue permits for youth sports.
Fortunately, as I mentioned last recap, spring practices are only four months away; I hope we can get most if not all of the Red Scare back for the spring season. (I know some players’ decisions may come down to currently unknowable things like whether there will be PSAL sports in the spring; if anyone needs to sign up for our team with the contingency that they might only be able to play a handful of games depending on availability, that’s totally fine.) And before that, we’re working on one final fall get-together this Saturday early afternoon in the park to share some food and hand out year-end memorabilia — exact time and location TBD, will email separately once that’s finalized.
Thanks to all the players and families who made this very possibly the single most fun season in my ten years as a coach, and huge thanks as well to Adam Fisher and everyone at 78 Youth Sports for crafting a baseball season out of wishes and duct tape. See many of you next weekend, and everyone else, have a good and safe winter.