Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Matthew Knocks in Winning Run!

Matthew knocked in the game-winning run last night, giving his Tigers their first victory of the season.

Batting third for the second straight game, he had two hits and two RBIs, and just missed out on going 3 for 3. This places him among the team RBI leaders. Out of 19 players from both teams, Matthew and Jalen were the only two to put the ball in play in every plate appearance.

In the top of the first, with Nate leading off third base, Matthew socked a 2-2 pitch just over the second-baseman’s head for a base hit, driving home the first run of the game.

In the third inning Matthew grounded the first pitch past the pitcher. The Shaw Park first-baseman, second-baseman, and pitcher converged on the ball. As Matthew “raced” to first, the second-baseman finally scooped up the ball and tossed to the first-baseman, who barely beat Matthew to the bag.

Going into the final inning, the Tigers were losing 6-4. Marlon walked and stole second, then scored on Brandt’s single to right-center. Brandt stole second and third, then scored the tying run on a passed ball. On a full count Nate walked, then stole second…setting the stage for Matthew.

After taking a ball and smashing a line drive foul past first, Matthew hit a hard ground ball. The first baseman and second-baseman had chances, but the grounder scooted through into right field. Nate rounded third and headed home, scoring what proved to be the winning run.

When the throw home got past the catcher, Matthew motored to second.

But the excitement was just beginning. Tanner walked, then Jalen singled to load the bases. Randal poked a grounder right to the third-baseman, who threw home. As the catcher crouched for the throw, Matthew bore down on the plate…and slid! Ernie the Umpire spread his arms wide…SAFE! But as the Shaw park coaches wailed in protest, Ernie came to his senses and reversed the call. No tag had been needed since it was a force play, and Matthew was obviously out.

In addition to all the offensive heroics, the Tigers NO-HIT their Shaw Park opponents, just three days after getting no-hit themselves. Pitchers Jessica, Nate, Thomas, and Brandt combined for the gem.

After starter Jessica walked four of the first five batters, Nate came in and retired two of the next three. Third-baseman Tanner threw one batter out at first, and caught a line drive for the third out.

Thomas similarly struggled pitching the second inning, walking three of the five batters he faced. Brandt relieved Thomas, struck out the first batter, and got the next batter to ground out to Jessica at first. With the bases loaded, Brandt had the runner at first picked off. But when the runner on third broke for home, Jessica fired to catcher Nate for the out.

In the third Brandt retired Shaw Park in order, striking out one and getting two to ground back to him on the mound. With the game on the line in the bottom of the fourth, the leadoff hitter grounded to Tanner at third……but Tanner booted the ball. The runner then stole second and advanced to third when Nate’s throw skipped into center.

With the tying run 60 feet from home, Brandt struck out the number three and four batters in the order. The next batter smashed a line drive, right at Jessica. She couldn’t hang on, but after knocking it down she picked it up and won the race to first, ending the game.

Walking off the field after congratulating the other team, my umpire friend Ernie called to me, and tossed me the game ball. It now sits on Matthew’s shelf.

At the same time four miles away, Will’s team rolled to another win. Like Matthew, Will also batted third in the order. He just missed hitting a home run.

Wednesday morning after the game, Matthew’s contributions became even more important. It was learned his teammate and buddy Alex had broken his wrist in the game, and is out for the season. Already shorthanded, the Tigers will play most of their remaining games with only nine players.

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