Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown
Chapter 9: League Game Six – Rockvale
What you become depends on decisions not conditions.
Rockvale would be game number six for the Nolensville Red team and would be played in Rockvale. Paul Burns would take the mound for the home team.
Coach only had nine players to start the game. Teddy was late and he was beside himself. He knew how important it was to have everyone there on time because of the limited number of players available. He would have to sit out the first three innings. That was the rule. It could make a difference in the outcome of the game and Teddy knew that.
Lajuane and Marty both walked and Darrell fouled off the first two pitches before cleaning the bases with a triple. Owen hit a single on a full count pitch and scored Darrell. While Rocket was in the process of drawing a walk, Owen stole two bases. Rocket did the same while Jimmy was waiting for the pitch that he hit for a double. Alex made the first out of the inning and Frank Ogilvie hit a ground ball back to the pitcher, who threw to first for out number two. Derek walked and stole two bases while Lajuane was getting his second walk of the inning. Marty got his second bat in the inning and hit the fourth pitch for a single. Darrell drove the runners in with a double and Owen put one on the ground for the third baseman who threw him out at first to end the inning. The Red team scored nine runs on five hits and forced coach Burns to change pitchers. Coach wondered why Coach Burns hadn’t started his son, Chris, from the beginning. When Chris walked the first batter he faced and then gave up a single it was clear. Mike Williams pitched to the next two batters.
Jimmy went to the mound and got three fly balls for an easy inning. Lajuane caught the first one, Teddy ran down the second one in center field, while Darrell did his thing at first with the third batter.
Rocket was the first batter up to start the second inning. Mike Williams walked him on four pitches and he stole second and third before Jimmy sacrificed him home. That would be the only run scored that inning. Alex struck out, Frank walked, Derek got a single to give the team two runners on base. Lajuane hit the ball back to the pitcher for the last out.
Chris was hitting in the clean-up position for Rockvale and was probable their most dangerous hitter. He led off the bottom of the second with a double to left field. Jimmy McCrary struck out. Jimmy Johnson could be overpowering on the mound when he really tried. He had been the strength of his team for several years.
Paul Burns moved Chris over to third when he hit a ground ball to Marty and he got the assist at first for out number two. The fourth batter in the inning, Shockey, struck out on four pitches and left Chris standing on third base. When Jimmy was good, he was very good.
Jimmy Johnson: As a fourteen year old, Jimmy went up against Zack Stark on a very good fourteen year old team from Grassland. He struck out sixteen batters in seven innings to Stark’s fourteen strike outs. Stark went on to play and coach in the pros. Confidence, concentration, and control make a difference on the mound and in life. After Jimmy lost his grandfather life was more difficult. He became the man in the family without the influence needed to guide him. At it’s best life can be difficult. The past is a statement. The future is a question. All Coach knew was that Jimmy was made from the right stuff. Coach didn’t know the truth but when you are backed into a corner some bad things can happen. Common sense isn’t common.
Marty led off the top of the third with a home run. His bat was almost unstoppable. Darrell had another double and Owen walked. Rocket walked after Darrell and Owen stole second and third. Rocket loaded the bases. Jimmy’s bat was silent as he struck out. Alex hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Darrell but forced Owen out at third. Frank didn’t mind swinging the bat and recorded the second strikeout and final out in the top of the third. Coach liked to win ball games but he enjoyed watching his batters make an effort with their bats. Frank tried every time he went to the plate. Frank seemed to be well grounded. He came from a solid family that cared for their children. Frank became a bi-vocational minister after graduating from Tennessee Tech.
Darrell and Jimmy switched places. Darrell went to the pitcher’s mound and Jimmy went to first base. The score was twelve to zero and Darrell, at that age, loved to pitch. Rockvale sent up their number eight and nine batters to start the inning. Darrell didn’t always overpower hitters, but at this age control and a good defense make a big difference. He struck out the eighth and walked the ninth batters bringing them to the top of their order. All that talk about defense seemed wasted. They scored four runs on two hits, while the team committed two errors. Rocket had a lot of energy and his bat and speed made up for a lot of mistakes. His fielding showed that he did not have a lot of experience with ground balls. We can all learn from our mistakes.
Mike Williams was having control problems and, truth be known, was tired. He walked three batters in the fourth, struck out one and loaded the bases but did not give up a single run. How is that for trying harder.
Coach sent Rocket to the mound, Darrell back to first and Jimmy to his best infield position at third, to finish the game. Rocket struck out three and walked two in that inning while leaving two on base.
Jimmy led off the fifth with a double but Alex struck out. Teddy entered the game in the fourth inning taking Frank’s place in the outfield. He was anxious to bat and got a double. Derek ended the inning with a ground ball to third, getting an assist from first.
Time was running out on Rockvale. Rocket would be facing the meat of their batting order, but without the help of their lower batters there was little chance they could score enough runs to catch up. Rocket gave up two runs on two hits, walked two and struck out two. The game was over. All the Red team had to do was drive home with a victory. What you become depends on decisions not conditions.
Nolensville Red 12, Rockvale 6