There were a few things we knew about the Leesburg Brewers. Like us, and the Lowell red Sox, they were actually a team; from Virginia. Having seen them around the Clubhouse, they looked like ball players and were nice enough guys. They had come very close to handing the Thunder a loss at the stadium (while we were losing at to the Wallbangers) and they had some pitching. If we were going to play some good baseball down here, this would be a VERY good time to start...
Your humble narrator, Fluff, was getting the start. I was coming off 2 good innings against the Wallbangers, and I was feeling pretty good. If I throw the 'slutter' for strikes, I live. If I don't, I die. It's that simple. This is a full rules game, and I still lose some of my stuff if I pitch out of the stretch, so a word to the wise should suffice. But we are the Visiting team and have a chance to get to them first.
Ice, who came up big all day, led us off with a hit. A 1-out MonCapitan single and an error loaded the bases for Nails, who promptly took one for the team. We had a quick 1-0 lead. We had the bases loaded with one out but could do no further damage. The Brewers pitcher had a pretty good heater, but was struggling to throw strikes. I would find out why, in a minute...
Every one of the Brewers looked the same to me. Big, pretty good hitters. I had a very so-so bullpen and my stuff wasn't much better during warmup.That might mean nothing, we'll see. The umpire had a smallish, low strike zone. I walked the first guy on, maybe, 5 pitches, and , whopee!, I was pitching from the stretch. Batter number 2 hit a cripple into left for a base hit, and stole second as I walked the 3-hole hitter. Well, at least I was pitching from the windup again. The next Brewer hit a fly to Ski in short left for the first out, the runner on 3rd holding. But the next hitter tied the score with an infield FC. Pitching from the stretch again I walked the next guy, loading the bases. From the windup, we got the next guy on a fly to "Mike". The score was 1-1, but it COULD have been 4-4, the way the pitching was going.
The Brewer's pitcher was up with everything and there was NO way this umpire was going to crack and lower his standards to accomodate us Clowns. But Bernie Brewer just kept firing away. I have to hand it to him, he wasn't letting up. Walks to Duse, "Mike" and 2-Tee loaded 'em up for Supe. Supe still can't run, but there isn't anything wrong with his swing, that's for sure. Supe absolutely CLUBBED a fastball 390 ft into the wind to the LC alley, clearing the bases. YEA!, baby! Ski got Supe home with a grounder to 2nd.
The Brewers got out of the inning with no further damage, even after giving up 2 more singles to Ice and MonCapitan and walking Fluff. The fur was flying.
The bottom of the 2nd inning was excruciating to witness, I am sure. The nothing Fluff had in the first inning could only be surpassed by the nothing Fluff had in the 2nd inning. The last thing you want to do after your team has just scored 4 runs, is walk the first 2 hitters. I'll spare you the details, but Walk, Walk, FC(1 out), Walk, FC(2 outs), Walk(run, bases loaded) is where we are with 2 outs in the bottom of the second inning, that has seemingly lasted an hour. All my slutters were high. All my fastballs were bounced. I was out of ammo. Al came out to the mound to try to sooth me into somehow throwing a few strikes and getting out of the inning. As MonC was heading back to home plate, Supe sauntered over to me. He had a fracking Brilliant! idea. AND, I knew it would work. We had the Brewers right where we wanted them, and they did not know it.
The count was something like 2-1, and every time I went into my big windup, the runner on 3rd was getting a big running start. Supe wanted me to get into my windup mode and step back off the rubber and fire to 3rd. We didn't tip it, because Al and Supe looked like they were just trying to settle down a rattled pitcher, and of course, Al was. I DID have to sell the windup and make a good throw to the bag. Supe would be there, he is the master at this.
I took the sign from MonC (slutter), rocked back off the rubber and fired to 3rd. Supe was there, the throw was there, the tag was there, and the umpire was there. You're OUT!
HA! The Brewers started to argue, but they knew they had been picked clean. They had missed a golden opportunity to put up a big number. It is doubtful Fluff would have retired another hitter. But after 2, it's 5-2 Nor'easters in a game that could be 10-10. But just keep doing the best you can and maybe good things will happen.We were going to ask Supe to do one more little itty bitty thing... Pitch the rest of the game...
The next 4 innings were relatively normal. The Brewer pitcher figured out how to throw strikes to this umpire's strike zone, and really started to look like the good pitcher that he was. Supe was throwing strikes and keeping us in the game. After 6, it was 6-4 Nor'easters. It might not have been, were it not for a clutch unassisted DP by Ice on a line drive at second. We were playing some good ball. I knew we could.
We really won this game in the 7th with a nice Nor'easter rally. With 1 out, 2-Tee, Supe (another massive Bomb), Ski, Ice and Fluff stroked successive base hits, scoring 3 runs for a 9-4 lead. We added 3 more in the 8th on some more free passes and hits by Duse and "Mike".
Leading 12-5 going into the bottom of the 8th, the umpires informed us that the game was over 3 hours old and this would be the last inning. With 1 out, the Brewers rallied. That last out can be very, very elusive. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, the batter represented the tying run. We were sweating it. But Supe mustered up enough willpower to strike out the Brewer batter for the last out and the Nor'easter win .
Man, what a great game. Finally a cool game to talk about.
This was a true team victory. Everybody chipped in, we picked each other up, we stayed positive, we had each other's back. And, you know what?, we're pretty danmed good baseball players too. But when one of us does something extra cool, I think a game ball is a good way to show that we noticed. Today it belonged to SuperJ. Heart-playing with an injury. Guts-taking the ball in the 3rd inning. Smarts-masterminding the pickoff that saved our bacon in the 2nd Class-never preens and acts like a prima donna, even though he's the best player on our roster. So, it was OUR game ball...
When you're a Jet,
You're a Jet all the way
From your first cigarette
To your last dyin' day.
When you're a Jet,
Let 'em do what they can.
You got brothers around,
You're a family man!
You're never alone,
You're never disconnected!
You're home with your own:
When company's expected,
You're well protected!