Pirates vs. Cardinals
April 17, 2001

W 19-15

After a 10-day layoff, the Pirates hit the field tonight for their first game of the season against the Cardinals. And who is this in the Pirate dugout? It's our top secret agent, B.J., so secret he's only known by his initials. After an early season super-secret mission, B.J. is back in uniform! And who's that other man wearing a dashing black Pirates shirt? That must be Coach Bill!

The Pirates looked real excited to hit the field after not having played for ten days. In fact, I'm not sure they even noticed that the first six Cardinals got hits. B.J. was put to the test right away, as two batters hit sharp grounders at him. Four more hits followed, and the Cardinals had the "max" allowable runs, five, with nobody out. The inning's highlight was the ol' trick play attempt on the stealing runner. Andrew and Ryan did it well, but nobody was fooled.

In the bottom of the first, the Pirates tried to scratch out some runs. Blake started us off with a single to center field. Ryan followed with a perfect bunt single. That put runners at first and second, Coach Rodney called for the ol' double steal and everybody moved up. Then Andrew grounded out to the pitcher. Our cleanup hitter Anna cracked an RBI single to center field. Michael flared a foul ball that the first baseman made a nice play on. With two outs, Matthew laid down a real nice bunt to put runners on the corners. Matthew ain't staying at first for long! He's off, running to second! Then Brian works the count full and smacks an infield hit to second base. That plated our third run. B.J. ended the inning with a popup that the first baseman gloved. That's 3 putouts by the Cardinals first baseman. Pirates go to the second inning trailing 5-3.

You know, the Cardinals got the "max" last time up. But guess what? Max got the Cardinals this time around, cleaning fielding a popup to second base for the first out of the second inning. A couple perfect Cardinal bunts and steals put the Cardinals in perfect scoring position. Hayden made a fantastic heads-up play, coming off the mound to field a dribbler to the left side. Hayden leapt into the air and flipped the ball towards B.J. at third. And you know what? It almost worked!! That was Hayden's only play! The Cardinals got a few more hits, had a strikeout, and the final batter grounded out to Anna at first base. Cardinals get four -- that's one less than the "max" (probably 'cause Max got them!).

In the bottom of the second, the Pirates had a leadoff strikeout. Then Josh M. (call me Montana) strode to the plate. With 2 strikes on him, Montana boomed a high single to left field! Max followed with a sharp single to right field. Chris had a single to shortstop, with Josh M. scoring on a bad throw. Josh B. (call me Gumbo) grounded out to the first baseman. That brings the top of the Pirates' order up! Blake and Ryan get good singles and RBIs. Finally, Andrew steps up and gets a 2-RBI double to end the scoring. That's the max for the Pirates! It's a real close game, as the Pirates trail 9-8 after two innings of play.

The Cardinals tough number-two batter led off the third inning, hitting a screaming line drive right at Chris at second base. Yikes!! Showing no fear, Chris tried to make the play on the ball (or was the ball trying to make a play on Chris?). The line drive glanced off, and the runner was safe. A few more hits netted some runs. Brian made a nice highlight play at shortstop, going into the hole to knock down the ground ball. It kept the runners at first and second instead of second and third. But the Cardinals poured it on. They stopped at five runs.

In the bottom of the Pirates' third inning, Anna led off with a single to shorstop. Michael laid down a great bunt and hustled ahead of the throw. Yay!! After a strikeout, Brian hit with authority as he cracked a 2-RBI single up the middle. Of course he stole second. Then B.J. plated Brian with a single to center field. Hayden put down his specialty (the bunt), and Mr. Montana got another single (on his fifth pitch). That's three runs. That's okay, but we want the max. Say it with me -- We want the max! We want the Max!! And Max delivers a 2-out, 2-RBI single to push five runs across. Yahoo!!

On to the fourth inning, where the Pirates have one more chance to break through. The Pirates still trail 14-13. The Cardinals got some hits and scored one run, but they also had two strikeouts -- and then Anna nailed it down by stopping a smash at first base. Wow! The Pirates defense shows up at just the right time!!

So the Pirates head to the bottom of the fourth, trailing by 2 runs. Chris leads off with a smack-a-roo towards third base that handcuffs the fielder. Gumbo popped out, and Chris made an awesome heads-up baserunning move! He stayed put and avoided the double play!! Then Chris showed his smarts on the next play, staying put as Blake grounded a single to shortstop. Ryan got a single along with an RBI. After some steals, that put the tying run at third (Blake) and the very-likely-winning run at second (Ryan). "Ducks on the pond", yells Coach Rodney. What the heck is that coach talking about? Oh, he means we have baserunners in scoring position. That baseball lingo is pretty darn strange....(don't even get me started about "Uncle Charlie" or "can of corn"). Andrew ignores Coach Rodney's ranting about ducks and crushes a hit to center field!! Two more runs score!! Anna followed with a double to right center, putting our speed demons Andrew and Anna on in scoring position. Then Michael hits a popup to shortstop -- but it falls in for a hit!! And Andrew scores! Alright! Matthew grounds into our second out. Brian, fresh off the disabled list, shows no signs of a sprained ankle as he gets his third hit of the game and couple more RBIs! Brian is eventually thrown out at third base. But, how about them Pirates?!! Six clutch runs to take the lead 19-15!!

The Cardinals had one more chance in the top of the fifth inning. Some hits and a couple strikeouts put the Cards in position for a two-out rally. A hit up the middle turned into a throw to home, over Andrew's head. But what's this? Andrew hustles to the fence, picks up the ball, and fires to Michael already covering home! Michael puts down the tag.........yerrrrrrrr out! Ballgame!! Pirates win 19-15!

Coach Rodney had a tough choice tonight. Brian had a great return to action, with 3 hits and five big RBI's! B.J. had a nice debut. Chris went 2-for-2 and made fantastic baserunning decisions! But Coach Rodney knew that we needed our "max" effort to win this game tonight. Max went 2-for-2, making clutch hits and RBIs, and even fielded a popup at second base. Offense, defense, what else can you ask for? Oh yeah, Max was never in danger of getting doubled up!! Max is tonight's highly-deserved Pirate Pick! Way to go Max!!

Captain "Long Gone" Homer