Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown
Chapter 2: Annual Jamboree – Game One – College Grove
They felt good as a team.
College Grove was the first of two games to be played in the annual jamboree. Their coach had four players that were the strength of his group. That may have been true of everyone. Terry Bennett was a good coach and understood the game. As they say, “He could take his team and beat yours, then take your team and beat his.”
Marty Jones was going to start the game against College Grove. It would not make a difference in the regular season standings but winning would make a statement about the team. The jamboree was sort of a preseason warm-up. It was also a chance for the hosting community to make some extra money from the concessions sold at the games.
Even though the games were played on Nolensville’s field, the Red team was the visitor. Lajuane Stewart would lead off. After starting with two strikes, he drew four straight balls. That was Lajuane’s offensive threat, those awful base on balls. Marty never moved his bat and followed the lead off batter with another walk. Jimmy Johnson was batting in the number three spot, reserved for the teams best bat. He rewarded the coach’s decision by hitting the fourth pitch over the center field fence. The team was ahead by three without any outs.
Tim “Rocket” Ridley was in the first power spot called clean-up. He wanted to follow Jimmy with a home run of his own but went down on three straight pitches for the first out of the season. Darrell Skinner walked after taking the pitcher into a full count, and stole second during Owen’s bat. Owen hit his third strike to second base and the fielder chose to get the lead runner at third. Frank Ogilvie struck out on four pitches, leaving Owen Brown on first base.
Moving to the bottom of the first would give the team a chance to see what they had on defense. Marty hit the first batter and struck out the second. Their lead off batter was very fast and felt very confident after stealing two bases before the strikeout. There was a set play that was given by the catcher to the infielder. The idea was to make the runner think that the ball was being thrown wild to the pitcher. If all went as planned the runner, thinking that the throw back was going into the outfield, took off for the next base. He was thrown out at home before the second batter was struck out by Marty.
Two outs were in the books before their power hitter got to the plate. Marty walked him on five pitches. The new base runner stole second base. The count was one and one on the clean-up hitter when the base runner broke for third. He broke one of those unwritten rules of good baseball, don’t make the first or third out at third base. Owen had his second assisted out when he made a perfect throw to Jimmy at third for the final out of the first inning.
Alex Langford started the top of the second with a five pitch strikeout, followed by Teddy Hannah’s walk. College Grove did not play defense very well that day and their pitcher was having a hard time being consistent around the strike zone. All nine batters made one trip to the plate that inning. Three more runs were scored spread around three strike outs.
Rocket went to the mound for the bottom of the second. He struck out the fourth, fifth, and sixth batters with eleven pitches. He was enjoying the game.
Jimmy just missed a second home run in the top of the third. Instead, he recorded out number three when the outfielder made an excellent catch at the fence. Jimmy left two runners on base.
Rocket had to depend on his defense during the bottom of the third. He struck out the first batter and then walked the next two. Their lead-off hitter got a double and their base runner scored on a close play at home.
Rocket went back to work and struck out the next batter and then threw out the lead runner at third. That was the end of the scoring. The last inning was plain vanilla. Top of the fourth saw four batters go to the plate with one strikeout recorded. College Grove’s part of the fourth found Rocket striking out the second and third batters and the defense getting the first batter, with team play by the first baseman, Darrell, fielding the ball and throwing to Marty, the second baseman.
They felt good as a team. The older players knew that they had outscored four of the league’s better players.
Nolensville Red 6, College Grove 1