Sunday, March 11, 2012

March 10: Game 1 Slugfest

Saturday started out chilly, but as the sun rose the day turned out beautifully, without a cloud in the sky. The breeze caused the pine pollen to literally rain down from the tall trees surrounding the field. Crown’s first opponent was the second-strongest private school team in the tournament, the Westfield Hornets.

As the visiting team, Will led off and reached base on the first pitch of the game, when the first-baseman couldn’t handle the shortstop’s low throw. The game quickly turned into a slugfest. Both teams scored at least three runs in each of the first five half innings.

Crown led 11 – 6, but then failed to capitalize on several scoring opportunities in the 4th and 5th innings. Will beat out a one-out infield single in the fourth, then broke for second on a steal. Casey then grounded the pitch into the hole vacated by the second-baseman, moving over the cover the base. The fielder reversed direction and retrieved the ball, but Will rounded second and made it to third on the infield hit.

After Casey was caught stealing, Braeden walked and took second on a wild pitch. The Westfield infield moved up close, hoping to prevent a run. Perry hit a fast roller that the shortstop dove and caught. Leading off third, Will was caught in an impossible situation. Caught in a rundown, all he could do was stay hung up until Braeden made it to third and Perry made it to second. With two out, Ray grounded out to end the inning.

Will was doing a fine job behind the plate. In the past few years he hasn’t had to catch much, just a game here and there. In addition to his knee, his arm was growing sore. Crown would throw 117 pitches in the first game, on top of the 64 pitches he had thrown the day before. He tagged a runner out at the plate in the first inning, and made several nice scoops and blocks, and framing pitches to get favorable calls from the amiable umpire.

Westfield scored two in the fourth. But up three going to the bottom of the last inning, Franklin got into a jam, allowing the first three hitters to load the bases. With nobody out and the tying run on first, a big play was needed. That’s just what came next.

The Westfield batter grounded a sharp one-hopper back to the mound. Franklin immediately threw home to Will for the force at home. Despite his sore arm, Will fired to first to complete the 1-2-3 double play…a huge pick-me-up after five Crown errors in the last four innings.

But the next batter singled in two runners, making it a one run game. He stole second. The next Westfield batter hit a line drive up the middle…but Franklin snagged the liner, ending the rally and the game. Crown won the 11-10 slugfest.

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