Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown
Chapter 14: League Game Eleven – Rockvale
See the ball, hit the ball.
Game eleven would be in Rockvale on Friday. Nolensville Red would see Chris Burns again. Within five years Chris would lose his father to cancer. The community would miss Bud Burns. When he left, his value was understood.
Coach changed his lineup hoping that the move would motivate the boys. Chris got off to a good start for Rockvale. He struck out the lead off batter. However, he walked Owen, Marty and Rocket before hitting Darrell and walking Jimmy. All five of them would score. Teddy struck out on three pitches. He was in a rut but Coach would give him credit for his effort. Derek would single and score. Frank, Lajuane and Owen would walk. Frank would score on a passed ball by Rockvale’s catcher. Marty would hit into a fielder’s choice and Owen would be forced at second to end a night mare for Chris.
Rocket would take the mound for the Red team. His control was good but Rockvale went to the plate with confidence that Coach had not seen before. Maybe it was because they had beaten College Grove three of four times and the Red team had lost to College Grove three of four time in the regular part of the season. There is no substitute for confidence and it can be infectious. Williams would lead off with a double and Oakley would single. Both hits would be in the gaps in the outfield. Mike Williams would walk and Chris Burns would double as would Jimmy McCrary. The first four batters would score. Rocket’s control didn’t seem to be a problem because he struck out batters six, seven and eight to end the inning.
Rocket led off the second inning with a home run. Darrell grounded to third and was thrown out at first. Jimmy and Teddy struck out to end their at bat. The left fielder for Rockvale started their at bat with a double, another ball hit to a gap in the outfield. Jimmy Williams walked and Oakley’s triple found another gap in the outfield.
Coach had to stop the bleeding. Rocket clearly had seen better days. Darrell would take the rock and see what he could accomplish. Mike Williams would single but Chris would get on base with a fielder’s choice that forced Mike out at second. The pitching change helped. Darrell struck out Jimmy McCrary and Paul Burns to finish the inning. Rockvale’s first three batters scored to bring them within one run of the Red team.
Paul Burns would start the third inning by facing Derek. He hit the ball out in front of the plate but could not beat the catcher’s throw to first. Paul came back with strikeouts by Frank and Lajuane. This was the only inning that the Red team would not score.
Rockvale made the bottom of the third their most successful inning. Darrell struck out Shockey but hit Johnson. That brought the top of Rockvale’s order up. Jimmy Williams and Oakley tripled into gaps in the outfield. Darrell walked Mike Williams and Coach made another move. He had been working with Teddy and hoped that the pressure would not be to much for him. Teddy was another left hander and had a strong arm. He just needed experience. Rockvale had taken the lead by four runs. Their spirits were high. Rockvale was doing what they needed to do: see the ball, hit the ball.
Chris singled and Jimmy McCrary walked on six pitches. Paul Burns hit into a pitcher’s best friend, the double play. Owen picked up the ball that Paul hit out in front of the plate and threw to Marty covering second base for out two. Marty relayed the ball to first to complete the double play.
All the Red team needed was four runs to keep the game going. Character will show, win or lose.Paul was back after his excellent third inning. He got Owen to ground out to the second baseman for out number one. Marty would walk and Rocket would bring him home with his second home run of the game. They had half of the runs they needed to keep the game alive.
Darrell walked and Jimmy hit a home run to get the runs that the team needed. The game was tied. Teddy was feeling good about himself and halted a nine at bat strikeout streak. His single was a good start. Derek hit to the first baseman for out number two. While he was in the process of batting, Teddy was stealing bases. There were times when Coach wanted to give Teddy a big hug.
Brad Alexander had taken Frank’s place in the lineup and drew a walk. Teddy was carefully watching for a chance to break for home. Coach told him that he had to make the decision without being told. He had speed to burn and surprise was the secret ingredient. He saw his chance and took it. The Red team had the lead. Coach Burns made his move by bringing in Jimmy McCrary to pitch to Lajuane. He walked but not before Brad had advance to third. Runners were now on the corners with Owen getting his second bat of the inning. He had the dubious honor of making two outs in the same inning.
Rockvale came to bat needing one run to extend the game and two to win. They wanted it badly but the bottom of their order was up. The Red team needed strikes and Jimmy Johnson was that man. Jimmy was into the moment. Shockey was the seventh batter in the order and hit a ground ball back to Jimmy and he made the pickup and threw him out at first. The number eight batter was up and Jimmy knew that he would have to throw strikes. The count went to two and two and Jimmy blew the fifth pitch past Morris for out number two. Sometimes the third out is the hardest out to get.
Rockvale’s number nine batter was up. Potts was the batter and he was taking the place of Johnson. Potts had been a starter but had never hit the ball against the Red teams pitching. Jimmy’s first pitch was a strike but his second pitch was a ball. Jimmy was ready for the challenge because he knew that Potts could not hit his best stuff even if he tried. His next two pitches were strikes that ended the game and Rockvale’s chance at winning.
See the ball, hit the ball.
Nolensville Red 13, Rockvale 12