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

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

Chapter 8: League Game Five – Nolensville Blue

You can learn from everyone.

Game number five was on Friday against the Nolensville Blue team so the Red team didn’t have time to feel remorse about another loss to College Grove.

Bobby Stephenson: Bobby coached the Nolensville Blue team. Bobby and his family were movers and shakers when it came to sports in Nolensville. His father, like Bobby, was one of a kind. If a boy’s father had played for Bobby then they wanted their son to follow in their footsteps. Bobby was a great guy and a good coach. If you didn’t like Bobby then you didn’t like anyone.

The Nolensville Red team was the home team and would start Marty Jones, a left hander. Nunn Arledge would start for the Blue team.

The league played under the banner of Dixie Youth. The rule for pitching was standard for that age group. You could pitch a total of six inning a week unless you started the game and it went into extra innings. That allowed the starter to pitch a total of seven innings. If you pitched three innings or less you could pitch the next day but if you pitched four innings you had to have 48 hours rest and a game between games in order to pitch again that week. Coaches were on the honor system. Some had honor and some didn’t.

Lou Ray Grimes would lead off the top of the first. His bat had been hot against the Red team. He hit the third pitch to Lajuane, the shortstop, and he got the assist by completing the play to first baseman, Darrell Skinner. Brian Cummings got on base when Rocket, fill-in second baseman, committed an error. Chris Wince struck out on three pitches. Nunn, the clean-up hitter would walk on four pitches. Nunn and Brian would both move up on the bases, giving the Blue team runners on second and third with two outs. The fifth batter in the inning would make the mistake of hitting to Mister Perfect at short. He made the toss to first for the third out.

Lajuane and Marty both walked and proceeded to steal bases while Teddy Hannah was in the process of striking out. Darrell followed Teddy with the same results. They now had two outs and two runs. Owen and Rocket did the same thing that Lajuane and Marty did while Jimmy Johnson was at bat. Nunn struck out three batters and walked four but his team allowed four runs to cross the plate without a single hit.

Marty was given a nice lead to work with. Adam Cook was the number six hitter in the lineup. He was a large strong boy with little confidence. When he started to believe in himself, his hitting and fielding were something to fear. He played on Coach’s team as a 13-14 year old. They lost three regular season games that year while playing in a tough Franklin league. Marty struck out Adam and then Capley. Vest, the eighth hitter walked on four pitches but Benjamin Holt hit a liner back to Marty. Out number three was in the books.

Alex Lankford walked on six pitches and stole bases like it was legal. Frank Ogilvie struck out on four pitches. It was hard to walk Frank because he wanted to hit something. Lajuane got his walk and also stole a base. Marty did the unusual and struck out. Teddy rewarded Coach for his movement up in the lineup with a single that scored Alex and Lajuane. While Owen was batting, both Teddy and Darrell scored on passed balls. Owen hit a nice shot to right field but Benjamin made the catch for the third out. 

Jimmy Johnson took the mound to start the third inning. Lou Ray led off with a single and stole second while Brian was striking out. Chris hit a fly ball to Teddy in center field and Nunn struck out on five pitches. A good start for Jimmy.

Rocket started the bottom of the third with a single and Jimmy walked. Derek hit a single and scored Rocket. Brad walked as did Lajuane. His walk would score Jimmy. Marty hit an infield fly for out number one. Teddy’s double scored Derek, Brad and Lajuane. Darrell hit a double and Owen walked. Rocket was up to bat with bases loaded and one out. Rocket struck out and Teddy was thrown out stealing home. The third inning was over.

Jimmy lost his concentration after a fielding error to start the fourth. Five runs scored before Coach brought in Darrell to clean up the mess. The defense made one more error before getting it together and crashing the Blue team’s hopes for a comeback.

Brian Cummings went to the mound at the bottom of the fourth. Time was running out and after sending four batters to the plate and scoring one more run, the game was called because of time. You can learn from everyone.

Nolensville Blue 5, Nolensville Red 14

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

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

Chapter 6: League Game Three – College Grove

The strength of the individual is team and the strength of the team is the individual.

They had every confidence about their third game. College Grove would come to Nolensville on Monday and Darrell Skinner would be the starting pitcher.

Mike House would start for The Grove. Coach Terry Bennett would use the same formula for almost every game. Each of his three best pitchers would pitch two innings each game. They were at the top of his batting order. With the weaker hitters on the bottom half. The trick was to throw strikes because they didn’t want to swing their bats.

Darrell walked Keith Bennett, their lead off hitter, on five pitches. Toby Pace followed him but Darrell struck him out with his sixth pitch.

Mike House was in the third spot and collected a single on Darryl’s first pitch. He tried to stretch it into a double when Keith tried to convince Lajuane that he was going to run home. Lajuane faked the throw home but went to second base for the second out. Mike House was a good twelve year old player. His father was the assistant coach on College Grove’s team.

John House: John was a Methodist preacher and thought of baseball as a second job. Mike would later play for Coach on his 15-16 year old team.

Lakeith Vaughn, the best athlete on their team, got a home run off of Darrell’s first pitch. Two runs scored. That is how they played. The big sticks were their money players.

J.D. Martin also hit Darrell’s first pitch for a base hit. Darrell was throwing strikes, they were just being hit where the defense couldn’t do anything about it. Their sixth hitter was struck out on three straight pitchesRunners were needed in the bottom of the first. Lajuane walked on six pitched and Marty got another double. Coach was feeling good with runners on second and third. Jimmy Johnson, Rocket, and Darryl struck out in turn. This was not a good sign but it wasn’t because the players didn’t care. Their seventh batter walked but eight and nine struck out. Darrell was small but certainly a gamer. Keith Bennett, the top of College Grove’s order, walked and Toby Pace moved him to second with a base hit. Mike House hit a line drive to Jimmy for the last out.

Owen grounded out to first while Frank and Alex struck out. The score at the top of the third was two to nothing. Pure entertainment unless you are a coach or parent.

Darrell was doing his job on the mound but the baseball seemed to have eyes for College Grove. Lakeith Vaughn led off with a double. He was long and lean, a recipe for speed. The next two batters hit singles and scored Lakeith. Darrell was ready for relief so he switched places at first with Jimmy. He walked the next batter and then struck out the next two. Coach was feeling good about the move. Keith Bennett, with the count one and one, got the bat on Jimmy Johnson’s third pitch. His triple scored the three runners on base but his greed got him thrown out at home with a good throw from the outfield. Luck was not the Red team’s lady tonight.

Teddy Hannah and Lajuane Stewart struck out to start the bottom of the third and Marty Jones hit a liner back to Mike House on the mound.

College Grove scored six more runs in the fourth and fifth innings and nothing in the sixth. Twelve to nothing is not what Coach had expected.

The bottom of the sixth would bring Lakeith Vaughn to the mound. His control was never very good but he threw hard. With the lead that College Grove had, there wasn’t much chance that they would lose their lead. The kids just had to make him work. Marty hit a single and stole second and third. Jimmy struck out and Rocket walked and stole second. Darrell and Owen walked. Brad Alexander struck out and Alex Lankford hit the ball at the shortstop. The shortstop’s error allowed the two base runner to score. Teddy struck out to finish the game.

The strength of the individual is team and the strength of the team is the individual. 

College Grove 12, Nolensville Red 2

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

Chapter 5: League Game Two – Rockvale

Is experience a friend or foe?

Rockvale was a small community south of Nolensville. Their boys were what everyone called corn fed because they were so big. Truth was, they were like every other team, some were small and a few were large.

This would be the Red team’s first meeting of this Rockvale team and their second regular game. Rockvale had beaten the College Grove team earlier in the week. Coach Burns would rather beat them than eat. For some reason those communities were into children’s sports. Their value as people was directly related to wins on the playing field. Coach had witnessed knives being pulled and bottles being thrown because a call or play didn’t go the way someone thought it should.

Whatever the size of the children, Rockvale was a tough community. One of the rare thing, in those day, was to see a woman coaching a boys baseball team. It still is. On one occasion, Coach saw a barefooted female coach at third throw her cigarette down and stomp it out with her bare foot. Coach made a mental note that day to always give her extra space.

Coach was glad to be playing them in Nolensville. Rocket would be the team’s starting pitcher on that Friday night. Their first hitter would send a long fly ball to Teddy, in right field, for the first out. One pitch, one out. What a great start. It was good to see Teddy be successful because with each success his confidence grew.

Their shortstop was hitting second and his second pitch was a line drive to Marty for out number two. The defense was doing its job and Rocket was making the most of his pitches. With the success that Rocket was having, their third batter should have taken some pitches, just to make Rocket workharder. He did not choose to do that and pulled the first pitch down the third base line. Jimmy made an easy catch and threw the ball to first to end the top of the first with out number three.

As usual, Lajuane started the Red team’s inning. The thing that wasn’t routine was seeing him hit the ball back to the pitcher for a throw out back at first. Coach was glad to see him be aggressive at the plate, too many batters are content watching the pitcher and never moving the bat. Coach told the boys that it was simple, “see the ball, hit the ball.” It’s not that simple but it is just that simple. Baseball is such a simple complicated game. How could that be? Well, it just is.

Marty had been hitting everything in sight and this at bat was no exception. The first pitch to him was a double. The team was doing the same thing that Rockvale was doing, only they now had a base runner.  Jimmy was not afraid to swing his bat but he refused to swing at a pitch that wasn’t in the strike zone. There had been times in the past when Coach had wanted him to swing at pitches because he was the last batter capable of hitting. Jimmy, on the other hand, refused to see that fact. This team didn’t have that problem and Jimmy took the first pitch for a ball. The second and third pitch were strikes and Jimmy was taking his measure of what the pitcher had. He also gave Marty a chance to take third base on a missed ball by the catcher. Jimmy took the next two pitches for a full count. Jimmy was doing his job at the plate and to prove his ability with his bat, he drove the last pitch through the gap into right field for a double and one run batted in.

Rocket was going to the plate with all the confidence in the world. Rocket went down on three pitches. Failure only made him more determined. Self image is the single most important factor in performance. I don’t know where he got it, but Rocket had a strong self image.

Darrell had taken notes when Jimmy was at bat and made the pitcher work harder after Rocket had given him a break. After three straight balls he drove the fourth pitch into left center field and allowed Jimmy to score. Darrell had the third double of the inning.

Owen took the first pitch, a called strike, and allowed Darrell to take third base. On the second pitch, Owen put the ball over the right fielder’s head for the third run of the inning and a triple for himself. Frank was not an experienced ball player but he certainly made up for it with effort. After four pitches, Frank accounted for the third out. Frank and his cousin, boys with different abilities and goals, had recorded two strike outs in the bottom of the first.

The top of the second would present Rocket with Rockvale’s best hitter. He was Coach Burns’ son Chris. He was a strong kid with an attitude like his father. Coach Burns and the Nolensville Red team were on friendly terms and they both liked beating College Grove. Coach Bennett, the coach for College Grove, had been beating them for years. They always thought it was because he had better kids and that may have been true, but not always.

Chris Burns made Rocket work for the first time this game. With the count three and two, he put the fifth pitch in the gap between right and center field. He was not fast enough to turn the sure single into a double and had the intelligence to recognize the fact. The fifth batter in their order was also their best pitcher, Jimmy McCrary. He was a young player with a strong arm and a good glove. His parents were proud of his ability. Rocket struck him out in six pitches. He got the next batter in five pitches. 

With two strikeouts in the inning, Rocket took a mental vacation. The bottom of Rockvale’s batting order was weakand the next two batter didn’t hit the ball but Rocket didn’t thrown strikes when he should have. He had gotten himself and his team in trouble. As everyone knows, there is no defense for walking a batter. Bases were loaded with two outs. Their number nine batter was up and probably had orders not to swing at any pitch. The first pitch was down the middle for a called strike one. Owen was giving his pitcher a good target and no reason for the slow Chris Burns, on third, to think that he would be able to steal home. Pitch two was exactly like the first and got the same results from the umpire. Not being sure about the batter’s ability, Rocket put the third pitch just off the edge of the plate for ball one.

The Rockvale parents were encouraging their batter with cheers of, “good eye.” Everyone knows that means don’t swing that bat, let the pitcher walk you. Rocket was having none of that and his next pitch was a hard one down the middle for a called strike that retired the team. Rocket returned to the dugout with that signature smile his team loved and the other team envied.

The bottom of the second would send Alex up first. He had an independent mind. That is good in some cases but from a team perspective it doesn’t always work. Alex and Coach would have a battle of wills if his attitude didn’t correct itself. Alex could hit the ball, but he didn’t always see it. He drew a walk with ball four after a full count. Teddy was the last batter in the order but was by no means the weakest hitter on the team. In fact he had a batting adverage of 500 so far in this young season. On the first pitch to Teddy, Alex stole second base. Two pitches later he moved to third. Alex was causing the pitcher some problems. He walked Teddy on seven pitches.

The batting order was back to the top. Lajuane was looking for a hit. The first pitch was put into play between thefirst and second basemen. Lajuane brought Alex home and moved Teddy to second. Marty was on a streak. His second double of the game scored Teddy and Lajuane. Marty stole third on Jimmy McCrary’s fourth pitch and Jimmy walked on the fifth. Rockvale change pitchers. Chris Burns was trying to save some of Rockvale’s pride. After the change, Rocket scored Marty with a single. While Darrell was in the process of getting four straight balls, Rocket stole second and third. Owen also received four straight balls while Darrell took second.

The bases were loaded for Frank. For the second time in a row Frank struck out. Alex walked again and scored Rocket. Teddy struck out on five pitches for the teams second out. Lajuane reached the plate for the second time during the inning and drew a walk that scored Darrell.

What a difficult situation to place your pitcher in, bases loaded with the other teams best hitter coming to the plate. Marty had already hit two doubles and was his teams best hitter for average. Marty was patient. Chris was having trouble throwing strikes but Marty didn’t want to walk. On a two and two count Marty improved on his two doubles for the night with a triple and his fifth RBI for the game. Jimmy wanted to pick up another run batted in but hit the ball at the first baseman for the final out of the second inning. The Red team was leading thirteen to zero.

The top of the third found Rockvale back at the top of their batting order. Rocket had been sitting to long and sent the first batter to first on four pitches. Rocket knew that he would have to work harder. He made the second batter hit into a fielder’s choice. Marty threw to Lajuane for the out at second. With the third batter the team made a rare error and Rockvale had two runners on. Rocket pitched carefully to Chris Burns and walked him, loading the bases. The next two batters made Rocket pitch to a full count and both struck out. Failure is the first step on the way to success.

Rocket led off the bottom of the third with a single. Darrell moved the runner to second on a fielder’s choice to the second baseman with an assist to first. Rocket stole third on the second pitch to Owen. After the steal, Owen sacrificed the runner home for the second out. Brad had replaced Frank and was making his first appearance at the plate. He hit a hard grounder back to the pitcher who got an assist at first for the third out.

The top of the fourth sent the team on defense with confidence. Everyone was doing their job. Rocket got the first batter on three pitches and the second batter walked on four. Glory is not gained without difficulty. The next batter also walked. The top of the order was back up and he had hit the ball both times at bat. He did it again. Lajuane charged the ground ball and found Jimmy at third for the second out. He in turn found Marty at second for the third out and the first double play of the game.

Rocket’s strikes-to-balls ratio could have been better but he worked hard when he was in trouble and the players behind him made the plays when it counted. Taking action is more important than giving notice.

The youngest player on the team was Derek. Alex didn’t like it but Derek was taking his place at the plate. He rewarded the coach’s decision with a strike out. Teddy hit a low shot to center field for a single but tried unsuccessful for a double. When he reached the bag the ball was there waiting on him for out number two. Lajuane walked and stole second as Marty was being pitched around. While Jimmy was looking for another hit, the two base runners stole another base. With second and third occupied, Jimmy recorded his first strike out of the game.To Rockvale’s credit, they were not through. They did not want to quit. Their first batter walked.

“Come on Rocket,” or something on that order is probably what Coach was thinking. The next batter gave the defense a chance to take charge of the game, or so it seemed. Rocket got ahead of himself and served Chris Burns a nice juicy pitch that he put over the fence. The next batter grounded out to the first baseman.

The two batters at the bottom part of the batting order both walked after Rocket pitched to a full count.

With any age group a coach is almost never secure with whatever lead his team has. Have confidence in your players because fear can make the wolf larger.

Heads, tails, same coin. How could a pitcher be so erratic and still throw three strikes in a row? The important thing is that he did and that stopped the inning with Rockvale scoring two runs.

Because these games have a time limit, all we had to do was keep batters going to the plate. Rocket led off with a triple. Darrell walked and stole second while Owen was at the plate. After drawing a walk on four pitches and loading the bases, the umpire called the game on time.

The defense played well. In fact, Coach had every confidence in what they could do.

Will experience be our friend or our foe?

Coach believed that this group of boys would get better as they learned to depend and trust each other. Time would tell. 

Rockvale 2, Nolensville Red 14.