Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown
Chapter 7: League Game Four – College Grove
We have to learn as we go.
Nolensville Red would go to College Grove for game four. That gave the Red team a chance to make amends for the last loss. Some of these kids went to school together. Can you imagine the chatter that took place?
Coach was still trying to get his batting order adjusted. The first two were good but the rest needed some tweaking.
Mike House would start again for College Grove. Coach expected to see him for two innings. He struck Lajuane out and then got Marty to pop-up for the second out. Jimmy could not hit the curve that Mike was using. He struck out on six pitches. Out like a lamb. College Grove didn’t look much better in the bottom half of the first. Rocket struck out their first two batters, Keith Bennett and Toby Pace. Mike drove one to left center for a single. He stole second while Lakeith was in the process of striking out. Good inning for Rocket.
Rocket led off the second with a walk and then stole second. Darryl got on base with a single and drove Rocket home in the process. He was aggressively trying to turn his single into a double but wasn’t fast enough to beat the ball to the bag. Owen struck out for the second out.
Frank walked. The third out came when Alex couldn’t get his bat close to the pitch.
J.D. Martin, College Grove’s third baseman, would reach first on a fielding error. He would steal two bases and score the tying run while his team mates were batting. Rocket would walk the second batter and give up a double to center field that scored Martin. Rocket then struck out the next two batters and got Keith to pop-up to Lajuane at shortstop.
Mike was doing a number on the batters. With two outs, the Red team loaded the bases. Darrell was in a good spot to score some runs for his team but his cousin, Mike House, put him back on defense with the third strikeout of the inning. Coach was surprised that Mike had been allowed to pitch three innings. Coach Bennett appeared to be losing confidence in his other two pitchers.
Important Moment: Five years later Coach noticed that Darrell and Mike had a mouthful of smokeless tobacco. He approached them and asked why they would put that nasty stuff in their mouth? Of course they didn’t have a good reason which prompted Coach to tell them that they couldn’t continue that habit. They insisted that their parents didn’t care if they used the tobacco. Coach didn’t believe that a responsible parent would ever knowingly allow their fifteen year old child to use that nasty stuff. His response was, “if your mother tells me it is okay then I will allow it.” The next practice they both came to Coach and said that their mothers found no problem with them dipping. Coach was a bit shocked and replied, “I do and you can’t.” They appealed but Coach would not back down. He never saw them with tobacco again but was sure they didn’t quit. Death doesn’t exist for the young. Maybe Coach made a difference.
Toby Pace reached base on the second fielding error by the Red team. Toby stole second to put himself in scoring position. Mike hit a grounder back to Rocket and was thrown out at first. Lakeith hit the ball to right center for a single which brought Toby home for their go-ahead run. Martin reached first on another fielding error. What was happening? The next batter grounded back to the mound and was put out at first. The last batter struck out but the lead now belonged to The Grove.Owen led off the fourth with a single and stole second. Keith Bennett was now pitching and should have been very hitable. He had nothing special. With that said he proceeded to strike out three of the next four batters while walking one. Coach Bennett was looking like a genius.
Rocket struck out two of the next three batters while getting Keith to dink one in front of the plate and having Owen throw him out at first. The fourth inning was over.
The Red team sent six batters to the plate and loaded the bases before Frank struck out. Nine runners had been left stranded at this point.
Rocket worked another good inning. He faced four batters, striking out two. Mike got another hit, this one for an extra base. Toby grounded out.
The top of the sixth was the Red team’s last chance. They needed one run to tie and keep the game moving. Lakeith took Keith Bennett’s place on the mound after Keith hit Alex on the second pitch and Teddy came through with a base hit. Alex moved to third on the hit. Teddy stole second base, giving the team two runners in scoring position. Imagine the shock when Lajuane scored both of them with a double to right center. Lakeith didn’t have great control. The Grove never knew what they were going to get from him. Marty walked and stole second. Jimmy got two bases on a fielding error but Lajuane was thrown out at home. Once again the team had two runners in scoring position and only one out. Rocket and Darrell were up next but both struck out leaving the two base runners stranded.
They went into the bottom of the sixth with a one run lead. All Rocket needed to do was perform his magic. He struck out the first batter but could not find the strike zone and walked the next three. It could be called home field advantage or sour grapes. Keith Bennett was up with bases loaded. Whether you like it or not, he hit one to deep left field that seemed to have eyes. It landed just fair and drove in the two runs they needed to tie and win.
Rocket struck out eleven batters and walked four, three of the walks were in the bottom of the sixth. It’s possible he lost his concentration or simply gave out. Maybe, just maybe, Coach should have changed pitchers. Some things are hard to swallow.
We have to learn as we go.
Nolensville Red 3, College Grove 4