Pirates vs. Reds
April 24, 2001

W 17-11

The Pirates faced their final NL opponent tonight, the Reds. The Pirates will be playing every team again, but it's nice to play everyone once. Coach Rodney was concerned tonight -- he was afraid the Pirates might get "the blues" by playing the hungry Reds. So Coach Rodney took a couple minutes before the game to remind the Pirates how important it is to *play* the game. No one gets awarded a win just because they won their last game!

So the Pirates took the field as the home team. After a couple leadoff Reds hits, the next batter struck out. The cleanup hitter next hit a smash to Hayden at second. Hayden calmly flipped the ball to shortstop Ryan covering second for the force. A final strikeout ended the top of the Reds first inning. No runs scored.

The Pirates got their first swings in the bottom of the first. Blake hit a beautiful line drive to right field. OH WOW! The first baseman went horizontal and made a leaping grab of Blake's ball! The ball dribbled out of his glove on contact with the ground, but he quickly made the putout at first. Gulp! Ryan followed with a hit and a stolen base. The next batter was Andrew, who tagged one straight to the shortstop. The shortstop would probably have thrown to first, but "Wheels" was putting the ol' dance moves on him. Ryan was off the base enough to draw the shortstop's attention, but Ryan boogied back to second as the shortstop tried to make a play on him. Everyone's safe! Brian then got an infield hit which scored the Pirates first run. Anna hit into a fielder's choice (Andrew's out at third). Michael followed with an opposite-field hit to left, plating Brian. Max got an infield hit, bringing in 2 runs when the pitcher made a bad throw. Finally, Matthew lifted a strong single to right center. That scored Max from second! Five runs in!

In the second inning, the Reds got a few hits and the Pirates helped by kinda throwing the ball around. Fortunately for the Pirates, the Reds had three strikeouts. The Reds scored three, closing the Pirates lead to 5-3.

In the bottom of the second, the Pirates got a nice little rally. After a leadoff strikeout, Hayden singled and Joshua M. put down a great bunt. Coach Rodney was looking for a double steal, but Joshua B. missed the sign (aaargh!). Josh put down a great bunt himself -- that loaded the bases with one out. Chris got an infield hit and got 2 RBIs! We headed back to the top of the order. Blake grounded out, and that brought up Wheels. Ryan smacked one up the middle, off the pitcher's glove. Can you believe that the Reds' second baseman made a highlight play, catching the ricochet and throwing out the speedy Ryan at first base. Yikes! Oh well. Pirates score 2 and head to the third inning up 7-3.

The Reds had a fabulous third inning. The Pirates had a pretty miserable third inning (well, at least it looked that way to the Pirates coaching staff). The Reds got a lot of hits, and the Pirates weren't really able to capitalize on opportunities to make outs. Josh B. made a sweet play to nip a batter at first base. It was a bang-bang play, and we got the call. The Reds wouldn't stop. They scored five.

Time for the Pirates to gut out some runs. Andrew led off the bottom of the third with a super double to right center field. Brian followed with a perfect bunt single. Anna got an infield hit, and Michael ripped a double to right field. Coach Rodney got greedy and had Michael stealing third. The catcher cut him down like a side of beef in a meat locker. Of course, Michael (aka "Crash") went in hard. OK, I guess it looked like a slide!! Luckily for Coach Rodney, the Pirates really picked him up. Max smacked a double to right field and Matthew got a single to right center. That brought up B.J.. Sure enough, B.J. hit his patented hard ground ball to third base. Max was running hard and scored. B.J. and Matthew were safe too. Finally, Hayden got a hit to the left side of the infield to score the fifth run. Pirates recapture the lead 12-8!

On to the fourth inning. The Pirates sure needed some clutch defense. A swinging bunt had Hayden hopping out from behind the plate, but he couldn't quite get the play at first. Then after a strikeout, the leadoff hitter hit a hard one straight at Brian at shortstop. Brian didn't hesitate. He ran to the second base bag, got the forceout, and fired on to first for a possible double play. No chance there though. Heads up "clutch" defense, Brian! The next batter tried to start a 2-out rally. And the runner from first is taking off to second for the steal! Hayden comes up throwing -- he threw a frozen rope to second base (baseball lingo alert -- that means a straight line drive throw). Brian is in perfect position to accept the throw. And apply the tag!! Yerrrrrrrrrrr OUT! The Pirates defense comes through again! And Brian shows why he's worthy of the nickname "Clutch"!

In the bottom of the Pirates fourth inning, Joshua M. led off with a single to center field. Joshua B. followed his namesake with a bunt single. It was an excellent sacrifice bunt -- they got "Gumbo" out, but "Montana" moved up to second. Chris lifted a fly ball to first base for the second out. Time for a two-out rally! Blake got a single to the right side. Then Ryan followed with a single. "Droofus" (that's Andrew) followed his single and his double from his first two plate appearances with a triple! Maybe we should have called him Wheels!! Brian follows with his third straight hit, a single which scored Andrew. A final strikeout ended the rally. But the Pirates score 5 and take a more commanding 16-8 lead.

In the fifth inning, the toughest Reds hitter hit a smash in the hole at shortstop. From deep in the hole, Ryan fields it on the backhand side, straightens and fires to the tall Anna at first. Ooooh, the runner just barely beat it out. Super looking play Ryan! For the next batter, the Pirates turned their first double play of the season. The batter struck out and the runner was stealing. Not so fast, Mr. Red! Andrew and Ryan have a little something to show you. Andrew chucks the ball down to Ryan -- the ball and the runner arrive at basically the same time. Because Ryan is in good position, he is able to make the tag. Out! Finally, the last batter hits a slow roller to Brian at pitcher. "Clutch" simply fields it, steps away from the machine, and tosses on to Anna for the final out. Again, the Pirates defense is amazing!

In the bottom of the fifth, Coach Rodney was hoping for a few more runs to put the game out of reach. Michael and Max got singles. After a strikeout, B.J. scored Michael from third, as he hit a routine ground ball to the pitcher. A final strikeout ended the scoring. Pirates notch another run to make it 17-8.

Incredibly, we played another half inning. The Reds got three more runs. The defensive highlight was a garden-variety unassisted putout at first base by Blake. Well, no need for the Pirates to bat. Game over! Pirates win 17-11!

The kids were sure living up to their nicknames tonight, especially Wheels, Crash, and Clutch. Coach Rodney kept it in the family tonight, tapping Brian as the Pirate Pick for his 3-for-3 at the plate, and especially for his "clutch" putouts in the fourth and fifth innings. That totally shut down a threat from the Big Red Machine. Way to go, Clutch!!

Captain "Long Gone" Homer