Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown
Chapter 16: Post Season
Part 1: Game One In The Tournament – Rockvale
Youth looks to the future and old age looks to the past.
The league would finish with a tournament. The Red team would start with Rockvale and College Grove would compete against Nolensville Blue. The first two games would be played at Rockvale on Tuesday and the two winners and the two losers would play at College Grove on Saturday.
The first game of the tournament would be in Rockvale on Tuesday night. Pitching would be critical. Coach knew that they would see a lot of Jimmy McCrary. He was Rockvale’s best and had beaten College Grove three times during the regular season. Coach wanted to win the tournament and that is how he would play the games. The team wanted another shot at College Grove.
Jimmy McCrary’s first inning set the tone for the rest of the game. He threw nine straight strikes for three strikeout. Lajuane, Owen and Marty each in their own turn.
Coach took some criticism for starting Jimmy Johnson instead of Rocket but the plan was to win two games not one. The criticism came from Coach Bennett of College Grove. He did the same thing in his opening game.
Jimmy struck out their catcher J. Williams. Rockvale’s sure handed shortstop hit a single to right center spoiling Jimmy’s chance for a no hitter. M. Williams was starting at third and recorded Jimmy’s second strikeout. Chris Burns hit an infield fly that was collected by Marty at second.
Rocket was first up for the top of the second and popped up to first. Jimmy Johnson struck out and Darryl walked. Williams was having a hard time stopping McCrary’s pitches behind the plate and Darryl took two extra bases settling at third for Teddy Hannah’s at bat. He did make a connection but it was caught by McCrary for the third out.
Jimmy was pitching strong and struck out the five, six and seven batters to end the bottom of the second. Have a seat Jimmy McCrary, Paul Burns and Shockey.
Striking out did not make any difference in Jimmy McCrary’s pitching. If anything it may have inspired him. He got the next three batter out in order, Derek, Frank and Lajuane. Jimmy’s no hitter was still possible as he finished the top of the third inning.
Rockvale’s left fielder popped up to first and their right fielder M. Johnson and catcher J. Williams both struck out. Three innings were in the book.
Owen would lead off the top of the fourth with a single that would put a stop to Jimmy McCrary’s no hitter. Marty would follow Owen with his second strikeout but his at bat allowed Owen to steal second and third, putting him sixty feet from home. Rocket was being selective at the plate and found the pitch he wanted for an RBI single. He followed Owen’s lead and stole second and third while Jimmy was in the process of striking out. Darrell didn’t give Rocket an opportunity to steal home. His first three pitches were within the strike zone but Darrell couldn’t get his bat on the ball. The top of the fourth gave Nolensville Red the lead while leaving one runner on base.
Oakley hit a fly ball to Frank in left field for out number one. Jimmy did the rest of the work by striking out M. Williams and the ever dangerous Chris Burns.
McCrary started the fifth with new resolve. He struck out Teddy but gave Derek a hitable pitch that found its way to the third baseman. The throw beat Derek to the bag by half a step for the second out. Frank recorded his second strikeout of the game. Three up and three down for the third time.
McCrary hit Jimmy’s first pitch back to Lajuane at shortstop and he threw him out at first. Jimmy lost his concentration and walked the next two batters, Paul Burns and Shockey.
With runs at a premium, the Red team chose to prevent the lead runner from scoring. Morris stuck his bat out and put the ball in play. Darrell fielded it, tagged his base and sent it home but Shockey slid in under the tag. The game was tied. Potts, the number nine batter struck out to end the fifth with one runner left on base.
McCrary was working hard and wanted to win. He was giving it his best. The Red team was back to the top of their order to start the sixth. Lajuane struck out but Owen drew a walk and stole second. He was in scoring position and only needed a base hit to score and give his team the lead. The bats were there they just needed to get the job done. Marty and Rocket both struck out and left Owen stranded at second.
Jimmy had done his job and Coach replaced him on the mound with Rocket.
There are time when a person just scratches his head and wonders what is going on. Rockvale was at the top of their order for the bottom of the sixth. All they needed was a run to win. Rocket walked the first two batters. Coach didn’t wait, Rocket went to third, Jimmy went to first and Darrell took the mound. Coach hoped that the speed change would make a difference at the plate. M. Williams hit a fielder’s choice to shortstop and Lajuane threw to Jimmy at third, getting the lead runner, for the first out. Chris Burns was up with only one out recorded in the inning. Coach knew what he could do with his bat and called for an intentional walk. That loaded the bases and certainly puts extra pressure on the pitcher. Darrell was into the moment. Coach knew that he was excited but focused. He proceeded to strike out McCrary and Paul Burns to end the bottom of the sixth. Three runners were left on base.
Jimmy McCrary by rule was allowed to pitch the seventh inning because he was the starting pitcher. Coach didn’t think that he had pitched that much before and thought that he could be getting tired. Jimmy Johnson was first up and tipped his third strike back to the catcher for out number one. Darrell struck out for number two. Teddy walked on four straight pitches. Derek walked on four straight pitches. Teddy took advantage of his speed and stole second and third while Derek stole second. Teddy knew that he had the green light for home but only if it was a sure thing. There would be no signal just his intuition. While Frank was up, Teddy saw his chance. He was home before anyone on the field or in the stands knew what was happening. In fact, Coach had turned his back to the plate when Teddy took off. He turned back just in time to see Teddy slide in for the go-ahead run. Rockvale’s catcher didn’t have much of a chance.
Jimmy McCrary had thrown a two hitter and was now trailing in the game. He walked Frank and Lajuane to load the bases. Owen flied to third for the final out.
Darrell walked their first batter and he stole second. The tying run was on second with no outs. Everyone except the players felt the pressure. Darrell went to work. He wanted this victory because he loved to win. He struck out the next three batters and they were on their way to meeting College Grove one more time.
Rockvale had recorded one hit and Nolensville had recorded two hits. Jimmy McCrary’s parents would come to coach after the game and tell him that they were going to bring Jimmy to Nolensville to play for him the next season. Coach was flattered but told them he would be moving up with his son.
The real difference in a good coach and a bad coach is his players. Jimmy was a good pitcher and Coach suspected that his parents did take him to another community to play. Coach hoped that he did well wherever he went, but sometimes parents put to much stock into winning.
Youth looks to the future and old age looks to the past.
Nolensville Red 2, Rockvale 1