|Here I am again, Captain "Long
Gone" Homer, ready to report on the final
game of the 2001 PeeWee Pirates' season. This is
gonna be a tough game report, 'cause the game
itself was tough. However, I will not hang my
head low. I will keep it held high as I relate
the final dramatic chapter of the Pirates.
Pirates won the coin toss and elected to be the
home team. The leadoff Braves batter grounded
directly to Ryan at shortstop on the first pitch
of the game. Ryan came up chunking and easily
tossed out the runner. The next batter grounded
to Matthew at third base. Matthew duplicated
Ryan's feat, as he tossed across the diamond to
Anna for the second out. The always-tough third
batter singled to center field and alertly took
second base on the slow pickup by the Pirates'
outfielders. After a single which scored a run,
the next batter grounded to Ryan again. And once
again, Ryan made a picture-perfect pickup and
throw to nip the runner. Braves get one.
In the bottom of the first, Ryan led things
off. And he ripped a line drive to right center
field that scooted between the outfielders! Coach
Rodney is sending him all the way. Holy Toledo,
it's a home run!!! Now, THAT'S the way to start a
ballgame! Andrew followed with a single to left
field. Blake slapped a grounder to first base.
They tossed on to second for the putout on
Andrew. Anna then stroked a double to right
field. And Blake scored from first as Coach
Rodney had the green light on! Brian grounded out
to their shortstop for the second out, and Anna
moved up to third. Finally, Michael grounded out
to the pitcher for the third out. Pirates get 2
and lead 2-1 after one full inning.
In the top of the second, the first batter got
a hit into the hole at shortstop. A dribbler to
third base (and then a Pirates' throwing error)
put runners at second and third with nobody out.
The next batter grounded to Ryan, who threw to
Anna for the out. We gave up the run. The next
batter squibbed a grounder to the pitcher, but we
had no play. Then he stole second. Another batter
grounded to shortstop -- and once again, Ryan
made a perfect throw to Anna. A run did score.
OK, that's two outs! And would you believe it?
The next batter grounded to Ryan at shortstop.
Ryan made the play. That's 5 assists for Ryan in
the first 6 outs!!
In the bottom of the second, B.J. started
things off by swatting the ball to left field for
a single. Matthew followed with a popup to the
first baseman -- B.J. stayed put as the first
baseman made the out. Max stepped in as Coach
Rodney was calling for him to get a good line
drive. After working himself into an 0-2 hole,
Max turned on one. It was a rifle shot down the
right field line... and it almost took B.J.'s
head off at first base! Coach Rodney had the
green light going the whole way. B.J. scored from
first. And I guess Max remembered Coach Rodney's
crack at the team party about Max's lack of speed
-- Max legged out an inside-the-park homer!! Take
that, Coach Rodney!!! Coach Rodney says
"I'll take it!" Wow, the crowd goes
wild! Then Hayden, who may be the best bunter on
the team, laid down a perfect bunt and barely
beat the throw to first. Christopher followed
with a dribbler to the mound. The pitcher made a
bad throw and Hayden hustled to third. No red
lights here! Coach Rodney waves Hayden home!
After a strikeout by Josh B., Josh M. put in his
own nomination for best team bunter with a bunt
down the third base line. This bunt was a little
harder than normal and the third baseman had a
play.... but he missed! Ryan followed with a
single to left center to plate a run. Then Andrew
stepped in with the bases juiced. He smacked a
triple to drive in the fifth run for the Pirates!
Pirates lead 7-3 after two innings.
In the top of the third, the first Braves
batter struck out. The next batter hit a dribbler
down the third base line that Andrew made a nice
play on. The batter was safe, however. The top of
the Braves lineup was now up. And the batter
smacked a line drive to left center field! Hey,
Ryan's out there! And he drifted back slightly to
make the play. Are you kidding me? Ryan is having
a whale of a game! Three more Braves hits scored
three runs. Finally, the batter lined the ball
directly to second base, where Blake speared it
for the third out.
In the bottom of the third, Blake slapped a
single to center field to start things off. Anna
followed with a strikeout (yikes!). Brian got a
single off the third baseman. Michael popped up
to the shortstop for the second out. B.J. got
another hit to left field to score Blake.
Finally, Matthew grounded into a fielder's
choice. The third baseman scooped the ball and
forced Brian at third. Pirates only get one and
still lead 8-6 after three. Man, this score is
I must now collect myself before I continue.
The top of the fourth inning was one of those
experiences that every ballplayer and coach goes
through. It's the almost-helpless feeling that
everything is going right for the other team. I
cannot discuss the gory details. Let me say this.
The Braves made good hits when they needed to.
And the bottom of their lineup got some lucky
dink hits in front of the plate that were
unplayable by the Pirates. Plus, the Pirates
*really* hurt themselves with sloppy outfield
play and stolen bases. It all came together in a
frightful experience I like to call "A
REALLY BAD INNING" (ok, it's not a catchy
phrase, but it sums it up pretty good). The
Braves get seven runs (gasp!!). For the record,
Ryan caught a line drive at shortstop to end the
inning. The Pirates head to the bottom of the
fourth trailing 13-8.
It's "gut-check" time! Here's the
question. When you give up the big inning, do you
hang your head and give up? Or do you step up and
do what you know you can do? It's time to see
what the Pirates are made of. Max led off with a
groundout to the first baseman. Hayden followed
with a line drive to left field that barely
cleared the infielders. Christopher smacked a
single to right field. Then Coach Rodney does the
unexpected. He calls for Josh B. to put down a
bunt. And Josh B. puts down an AWESOME bunt to
load the bases. Josh M. got an infield single,
with the shortstop just barely missing the tag on
Christopher. Ryan got a groundout to the pitcher,
but the second run scored. With runners at second
and third, the sound of ducks quacking was
overwhelming. "Ducks on the pond,
baby!", yelled Coach Rodney. And Andrew
delivers yet again, a single to right center to
score 2. Blake hit into an out to end the
scoring. Pirates get four to make the score
13-12, with the Braves in the lead.
We head to the fifth inning. Time is running
out, so the Pirates have to do everything
quickly. The toughest Braves hitter is up. He
creams a line drive towards left center field.
This has home run written all over it. But... OH
MY GOSH!!... Ryan leaps into the air from
shortstop and snags the bullet! Words escape me
(although I know you find that hard to believe).
After a couple hits, Brian fields a grounder on
the mound and fires to Michael at first for the
second out. Another hit scored a run. And then
the final batter grounded to Ryan at shortstop,
who tossed to Michael for the third out.
One more chance!!! And the drop-dead time is
fast approaching -- which may mean we revert back
to the end of the previous inning. Anna leads off
with a single to center field. Brian wasted no
time doing the same thing, singling to center
field. Michael grounded to the shortstop, who
forced Brian at second and fired on to first for
the double play. Thank goodness the throw was
high. Anna scored on the play. It's a one-run
ballgame!! Michael is at first and B.J. is at the
plate. We need to get Michael to second so B.J.
can score him. Coach Rodney calls for the steal.
Michael breaks as the ball crosses the plate. But
he senses danger -- and doesn't think he can make
it safely to second. Michael gets in a rundown,
and gets tagged out as he slides back to first.
B.J. then grounded out to third. That's the
The Pirates gave it a desperate shot, but fell
one run short. The tears definitely came as the
Pirates realized the season was over. Clearly, it
was a heartbreaking loss. Coach Rodney tried to
offer some words of encouragement, but there's no
denying that the players hurt. The entire
Pirates' coaching staff and all the player's
parents were gonna be hurting a little too after
the game. Coach Rodney told me he had a tough
time coming to grips not only with the loss, but
also with the fact that we were done playing
together as a team. I will say that it was
amazing to watch the group of guys come together
this year. I was really impressed with the
improvement by the players. And I was very
excited to watch players step forward and assume
leadership -- players like Ryan, Andrew, and
Coach Rodney had no problems at all choosing
the player of the game. Although Matthew and
Blake made some nice defensive plays, and Max
stroked a 2-run dinger, the team rode the
shoulders of Ryan tonight. Ryan turned NINE outs
(out of 12 non-strikeouts). He hit a homer and
had two RBIs. Every single time the team needed
him, Ryan stepped up ("raised the barr"
if you will). A career game for Ryan!
Congratulations to Ryan as he is this season's
That's it for me. I enjoyed writing about your
season. Don't forget to say "Hi" to
Coach Rodney when you see him around the ol'