The Final Game

Baseball season is staggered here.  It may only be the middle of June, but baseball is beginning to wind down.  As of today, we now only have seven games a week instead of nine.  It's been a crazy baseball week though.  Benjamin plays coach-pitch ball, and this week was the tournament.  They earned the #2 seed and made it all the way to the championship game through a single elimination tournament.  Their opponent in the final game was the only team that handed them a loss in the regular season...a big loss to boot!  They happened to be the tournament hosts too, so the game was played on their home field.

 It's been a fun season. It's always fun to watch the progression from the start of the season to the finish, no matter what the level of player. Secretly, I was thrilled not to have tee ball games to go to this summer, and while coach pitch is a far cry from the 13-14 year old league that Jakob plays in, these last several tournament games were a blast to watch. Some of them were nail-biters! These kids only play five innings, and there is a five-run rule per inning, so sometimes they can be pretty quick, with some 'snowball fights' along the way. They get five strikes rather than three. They picked things up pretty quickly though and one game they even turned a triple play! In all of baseball, the odds of a triple play are like 10,000 to 1 and these little kids purposefully completed one! Now, they're not on their way to being pros, they're just little kids having fun playing America's greatest pasttime!

It was so much fun to watch Benjamin play.  I've said before that he's waited a lifetime to do everything, so when he got to put on a real uniform this year that looked just like his big brothers and paly real baseball, he was ecstatic!  On game days, he was out of bed at dawn and dressed in his uniform, ready to play.  Some days he hid his uniform so that there was no chance of it being in the wash when he needed it.  He has taken it out of the dryer wet and worn it, worried that there wasn't enough time for it to dry completely.   By the end of the season, he settled down a little more and let me wash it completely, but he was always completely ready...100%, and was sure to have everything a baseball player needed...down to his baseball underwear (that I didn't get washed for the last two games!)  He ran to the field, to the dugout, around the bases...he was just eager to do whatever he was supposed to do.  He played hard every game. 

Today, we drove 25 miles from home for the championship game.  Last night's semi-final game proved to be action-packed and exciting, and the other semi-final winners sat to watch the game to see who they would face.  We drove home watching the sky threaten a storm that passed over, but another one rolled in early this morning, causing havoc on the tournment schedule because fields were wet.  This was a big game though, so every effort was made to get the field ready to play.  (While this was indeed a big game for these little kids, I exaggerate the importance placed on it.  The world would have continued to rotate if the game didn't get played.)

Nehawka.  This was our opponent.  Nehawka is one of those little towns off the beaten path that you drive into like the ones in storybooks and movies.  A tree lined road leads straight to a baseball field in the middle of the small town.  The field is surrounded by cute bungalows, and I imagine that people sit out on their porch swings at night watching the ball games.  Think Field of Dreams.  It is a baseball town.  It's not the first time that one of our Eagle teams has anticipated a tough game against these farm boys.  They play baseball...think Sandlot.  These little coach-pitch boys stretch to catch a ball with their foot still on the bag.  They throw from third to first with sharp accuracy.  They crank the bat and send the ball down the base-line. 

It was 6 to 6 in the bottom of the 5th inning, and Nehawka was at bat.  The four previous innings were intense.  Bench-gripping-intense!  (These are 7 and 8 year olds!!!)  It was so much fun and the kids were having so much fun!  I think that this is the hardest this Nehawka team has had to work all year long!  They batted last, and after holding us to no new runs, they scored the winning run.  SIGH!  Heartbreaker, but with a huge smile.

Runners-Up.  That's a pretty good note to end the season on.  While it's just coach-pitch, it was hard not to imagine this little team turning some great plays together in a few more short years.  Small town baseball is totally gratifying!  It just seems like this is how it is supposed to be!

Great job Ben!!!