It's been a pretty cool summer from a baseball standpoint for my oldest, Alex (and for me too for that matter). The photo above is of the Junior Deputy Major Division Champions for 2008. It was taken after the final game of the season in which we needed to win to secure the championship! As the smiles (and fingers) would indicate, we won the game and championship. A brief description of the last inning of the last game is in order because it's filled with the kind of drama expected from a championship caliber game:
The above photo is of the last pitch of the game and season. Obviously it was successful, but also stressful, says the coach in the corner of the dugout who couldn't watch.
It all came down to the bottom of the 7th. Reds up 5 - 2. The inning started innocently enough as the lead off batter rolled one down the line at first. Alex jumped off the hill, hustled over and threw him out for the first out. Alex walked the next batter. Then Mason McKay made a nice play at third on the next batter getting the force at second. Two outs one on. The drama wasn't over, however. After a walk and a fielder's choice play the bases were loaded with two outs.
Next to the plate was the Braves' best hitter. He'd tripled earlier in the game and hit a two run homer the night before. With bases loaded, two outs, and the Reds holding a 5 - 2 lead this game wasn't over! Alex quickly got him down 0 - 2 throwing two great pitches. The next pitch was in a great location trying to get him to chase it....ball one. By this time, I was in the very inside corner of the dugout by the water fountain. I couldn't see the batter.....I didn't want to....I was a nervous wreck! The next two pitches were good pitches and were fouled off....Alex was still way ahead at 1 - 2. At this point I'll say that while this was the Braves' best hitter and he'd done well at the plate as described above....Alex owned him on this night striking him out two of the three times he faced him leading up to this at bat....and he'd done it on good curve balls. Then on pitch 109...Russell Mays, who'd called an excellent game all night, with the championship on the line, called for the "uncle charlie" one more time. I saw Alex wind up, throw the pitch....I never got a visual confirmation of what happened at the plate....but it was obvious that the good curve got him again when I saw Alex slap his leg with his glove and pump his fist. I heard our stands erupt and saw our players begin to celebrate. It was a thing of beauty! Alex pitched a complete game for his best game of the year!
But the fun didn't stop with league baseball. Alex also played on his high school summer team and had fun with that as well. Being a freshman he played most of his game with the JV team but he probably had his most fun playing with the varsity guys. The highlight came in a varsity tournament at the local college. After a couple of games the starting 3rd baseman had to go out of town. Alex got the tap on the shoulder to take his spot. He did himself proud, played very well, caught the head coach's eye and earned a lot of respect from the rest of the varsity guys as someone who could deliver. In the semi-final game he went 2 - 3 with a double, single and three RBI, made some nice defensive plays and helped his team get to the championship game!
The championship game was the real treat. These guys got to experience playing a game at Dickey-Stephens park...the home of the AA Arkansas Travelers. It was the first non-professional game to ever be played at the park. They finished second in this tourney against some great teams from a 4 state area.