Every Coach’s Dream, Chapter 11

Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown

Chapter 11: League Game Eight – Nolensville Blue

Understand the past, Respect the future.

Nunn Arledge and his family were on vacation which implied that Nolensville Blue had a slim chance of victory against Nolensville Red in game eight. It was a Friday night game in Nolensville and lots of people would show up for the excitement under the lights. The Red team was the visiting team on this night.

Alex Lankford had a problem following directions. Alex had ignored a three and zero take sign last Monday night against Rockvale. When Coach asked him if he understood the signal he indicated that he, in fact, did understand, but didn’t want to take the pitch. At least he was honest. Coach had immediately taken him out and sent Derek in to finish his at bat. There can only be one head coach. Alex was upset and his father was not happy.

Brothers: Several years later his younger brother wanted to play on Coach’s team. His father had some reservations about letting him play. Coach couldn’t imagine two children being so different. Coach made it very clear to Mr. Lankford that one incident didn’t effect the other. Shawn was a very coachable player. He wanted to play and he wanted to learn. His father saw the truth of the situation and Shawn made the all-star team at the end of the year.

Alex quit the team. That left us with ten team members. On this particular night Brad Alexander’s family was out of town. All you need to play is nine players and The Blue team also had nine. Game on.

Lajuane would bat first as he did all season. His batting average was .312 but it would not finish this high. He finished the season with a .231 average but he led the team with walks. Jimmy asked Coach one day why Coach let Lajuane bat in that position. Jimmy could have been feeling some frustration about batting lower in the lineup. Coach thought for a minute and responded to Jimmy’s question with a question. “Where would you place him in the order?” His response was a quick, “last.” A moment of silence was followed by another evaluation by Jimmy. “You are correct Coach, there isn’t much difference.” In defense of Lajuane, his on base percentage was extremely high. Lajuane made the all-star team based on his play at shortstop. He hit in the nine spot during the all-star tournament.

Benjamin Holt would be the starting pitcher for Bobby Stephenson’s Blue team. The first batter he faced was Lajuane and of course he walked.

Benjamin Holt: Years later Coach was having dinner in a South Nashville restaurant when Benjamin Holt came to the table to introduce himself. He was tall and handsome. No longer the small boy that had worked so hard on the baseball field dispite his size.

Marty hit a double to left field leaving runners on second and third. Coach was sure that Teddy was unhappy about letting Benjamin strike him out on three pitches. Darrell was having none of that and singled to left field. Lajuane scored from third and Marty moved over to take Lajuane’s place.

Owen singled to center field and scored Marty. Rocket walked and Jimmy put his single in right field scoring Darrell. Derek brought Owen and Rocket in with the double that he hit to center left. Frank drew a walk and Lajuane, on his second trip to the plate in the first, struck out.

Marty popped up to the third baseman, Boyd, for the third out. Benjamin gave up five runs on five hits and left three runners on the bases.

Darrell was on the mound again for the Red team. Good batters didn’t have to wait long for a pitch around the strikezone. Brian Cummings hit the first pitch back to Darrell and he threw him out at first.

Boyd hit his first pitch into a hole in the outfield for a double. Chris Wence, Bobby’s best hitter walked. Adam Cook struck out.

Adam Cook: Coach believed that Adam put himself under a lot of pressure to hit the ball. He was a solid twelve year old with strength to spare. Coach discovered, two years later, that when placed with other big strong boys Adam didn’t put that pressure on himself and hit the ball as well as anyone.

Michael Howell struck out leaving two runners on base. As the old saying goes, Michael might have been “as useless as tits on a bore hog” when it came to baseball. Coach never saw a kid that tried less on the baseball field. Coach would have loved having Michael’s younger sister on the team. Michael went into the military. He looked great in his uniform when he came home for visits.

Teddy singled to start the top of the second. Darrell hit to center field and Adam Cook made a nice catch for out number one.

Owen hit to right center for a single. Rocket hit a double to left center and scored both runners on base. Jimmy hit to Chris at short stop and he turned it into an out by throwing to Michael Howell at first for the second out.

Derek struck out on three pitches. One thing was for sure, Derek was not afraid to go after the pitch. He never changed. He saw it and went after the prize.

Sam Mosley, the catcher, was first up in the bottom of the second. Sam walked on five pitches. After the second pitch to Holt, Owen threw the ball back to Darrell who threw to Lajuane, covering second, he made the tag for the first out. It was not like Darrell but he walked the first three batters he faced in that inning.

With two players on base, Darrell proceeded to strike out the next two batters he faced. How do you define winner? Start with Darrell.

Frank Ogilvie walked to start the third inning. Lajuane popped up to first. Marty got a single up the middle. Teddy got his second base hit of the game and Darrell flied out to Adam in center field.

Owen got a double when he drove the ball into right center field and scored Frank and Marty. Rocket popped up to the first baseman for the final out.

The Blue team was behind nine to zero when their third baseman, Boyd, came to the plate at the bottom of the third. He hit a liner back to Darrell for their first out.

Chris flied out to Teddy in center field. Then Darrell walked Adam on six pitches.
Michael struck out for the second time in a row. The third inning was in the book.

The top of the fourth would prove to be a disaster for the Blue team. Benjamin was wearing down. The Red team sent fourteen players to the plate. They scored eight runs on six hits combined with five walks. Benjamin did strike out two of the Nolensville Red batters.

Darrell would came back out to finish the fourth. He didn’t give up any runs on one hit, had two strikeouts and only one walk. Bobby put Brian Cummings on the mound to pitch the fifth. He got off to a good start by striking Teddy out on three very slow pitches.

Darrell and Owen both got doubles and scored in the inning. Rocket walked and was thrown out trying to stealing second. Jimmy singled and took second on a wild pitch while Derek was in the process of striking out. Lajuane drew his usual walk and Marty popped up to end the Red team’s time at bat. In retrospect Darrell should have traded places with Jimmy. With such a large lead Coach should have made a pitching change, but he didn’t. The first four inning had not been overwhelming for Darrell but the fifth would prove to be a challenge for such a small player.

The first two batters had base hits but the lead runner was thrown out trying to steal third. Darrell walked the next three batters pushing a run across the plate. He struck out the next batter and walked one more batter, scorning a second run. Coach could see Darrell bow his back as he proceeded to strike out the number nine batter on four pitches. It was late and everyone was tired. There was just enough time for a soft drink and maybe a hot dog from the concession stand.

See you Monday boys. Remember, your team plays College Grove at your field.

Understand the past, Respect the future.

Nolensville Red nineteen, Nolensville Blue two.

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