Pirates vs. Astros
May 11, 2001

L 17-9

The 7-3 Pirates and the 10-1 Astros faced off on a nice Friday evening. The only loss for the Astros this year was to the Pirates -- so they were hoping to even things up. The Pirates hit the field as the home team.

The Astros wasted no time in making a statement. They first 5 Astros hit the ball hard, and they scored 5 runs. Yikes! In the bottom of the first, Ryan led with a hard single off the pitcher's glove. Blake followed with a double to center field, putting ducks on the pond for Andrew. Andrew lifted a fly ball to left center field, which dropped in for a hit and scored two! Brian then tattooed a ball to left center field. Anna had a big single to left field -- she really smacked it. That loaded the sacks with no one out. After a strikeout, Michael grounded into a fielder's choice (they threw out Andrew at the plate). Max got an infield single to score Brian. Finally, Matthew grounded out to the pitcher. Hey, pick your head up -- you'll get another chance! Pirates score 3 and trail after one inning 5-3.

In the second inning, the first two Astros got hits. The next batter grounded out to Anna at first base. That put runners at second and third base with one out. The next batter grounded a ball directly to Brian at shortstop. Brian sorta looked the runner back to second and prepared to fire on to first to get the batter. But WHAT'S THIS??? Brian *faked* the throw to first and quickly turned to tag out the runner at second!!! Mercy me!! WHAT A PLAY!!!!! (Good thing the exclamation mark key works on this computer!) The crowd goes bananas over the heads-up, great-instincts play by Brian! Another hit plated one run and a strikeout ended the scoring. Astros only score one!

In the bottom of the second, Josh M. starts off with a perfect bunt single. Coach Rodney whispers to Hayden as he steps to the plate "Put one down in the same place". And Hayden does exactly that! After a strikeout by Josh B. (including some nice bunt attempts), Chris comes up with a clutch single to center field! And that scores two! Ryan got another single to right field. Blake got a hit off the first baseman to score Chris. Then Andrew stepped up and hit a fly ball to center field. The shortstop can't get to it, the second baseman can't get to it, the outfielders can't get to it. It wasn't hit well, but the ball had "eyes". That kind of popup is called a "Texas leaguer". And it scored the fourth and fifth runs! Coach Rodney ain't complaining... Pirates lead 8-6 after two innings.

In the top of the third, the first Astros batter struck out (actually, he bunted the third strike foul). After a couple hits, the next batter rifled a double. He tried to take third base. But Ryan took the relay, look at the situation, and tossed on to Josh M. at third base. Josh M. applied the tag on the sliding runner. Out!! A grounder to right field somehow turned into a home run due to the Pirates throwing the ball around -- double yikes!! Finally, an Astros batter flied out to Ryan. Astros score 3.

In the bottom of the third, Brian led off with a grounder to the shortstop. But the shortstop made a nice play and threw out Brian. Anna followed with a single to right field. B.J. hit his patented grounder in the hole between shortstop and third base. Everyone's safe! Michael hit a popup to shortstop for the second out. The Max got a single to load the bases. That brings up Matthew. Hey, the bases are loaded again! And just like Coach Rodney told Matthew, he had another chance to come through. And Sparky delivers, with an infield single, to score one! Finally, Josh M. grounds to the shortstop, who converts the fielder's choice at third base for the third out. The Pirates knot the game 9 to 9!

In the fourth, the first two Astros got hits and one run scored. The next batter lifted a soft fly ball over Ryan at shortstop into short left field. But Ryan glides out and makes the sliding catch. Yippee!! The next batter lifts another popup to Ryan. This one's easier, and Ryan squeezes it for the second out. The last batter grounded out meekly to Anna at first base. Way to hold 'em Pirates!

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hayden led off with a grounder to the third baseman, who fired it across the diamond for the out. Josh B. grounded out to the pitcher. Then Christopher got his second hit of the night, a smack off the second baseman. Ryan followed with his third single of the night! Alas, the rally fell short, as Blake grounded out to the pitcher.

In the top of the fifth, the Pirates defense needed to shut down the Astros. The first two Astros struck out. Then the next batter lifted a fly ball over shortstop into short left center field. Michael charges and makes a sliding catch. Fantastic! Three up -- three down! Alright!!

Now it's time to make an offensive statement. Sadly, Andrew led off with a popup to shortstop. Then Brian got a single. Brian moved up to second as Anna grounded out to second base. With two outs and B.J. at the plate, Coach Rodney tried to force the action, calling for Brian to steal third base. Brian got a great jump and hit the dirt. A tough call at third base -- the ump calls Brian out. The call could have gone either way. Ouch! That's three outs and the Pirates don't score anything. That means the Pirates still trail 10-9 after 5 full innings. What an incredibly close game! And the parents in the stands (on both sides) are really into it. This is what baseball is all about!!

In the top of the sixth, the Pirate defense sorta let down a bit. Hard hits by the Astros scored 7 runs. The defensive highlights included Michael tossing across from shortstop to Anna at first base. Plus Andrew made a diving attempt to catch a foul ball from behind the plate. Ryan made a putout to first, plus he dove for a grounder, knocked it down, and almost got the play at first. Man, Ryan is everywhere tonight!!

The Pirates had one more chance, but they were too far down. Michael did get a pretty line drive single to right field. But the Astros made good plays, as B.J., Max, and Matthew all grounded out. That's ballgame! Astros win 17-9. The final score looked a little outrageous, but everyone who watched that game knew how close it really was.

The Pirates sure shook off their hitting doldrums of the past couple games. They just played a tough team tonight, and stayed with 'em toe-to-toe for five innings. Coach Rodney had a couple players really step up tonight. Brian's tag after the fake throw in the second really charged up the team and got the Pirates smiling again. And Ryan just seemed to be everywhere, diving, sliding, catching balls, and going 3-for-3 at the plate. A great all-around game from Ryan! And Coach Rodney names Ryan as tonight's Pirate Pick! Way to step up and lead the team, Ryan!

Hopefully, we'll get back to our winning ways soon. These last 3 games were tough -- in fact, Coach Rodney knew they were going to be tough when he looked at the schedule. We're in the home stretch of the season, and the Pirates are looking to close it out in style!

Captain "Long Gone" Homer