Well, after a long Saturday, the baseball season is over once again. We finished the season on Tuesday with a win, so we were ranked 1st place in the league in exactly the same position (15 wins, 2 losses) as last season, but this time with my brother Matthew as coach. My other brother Doug’s team (one of the two who had managed to hand us a loss) came in second place and we were all hoping to meet each other in the finals (as unlikely as that would actually be). Chris was also on his team, and Phil was on his friend David’s team (ranked 8th). But enough about the season, on to the playoffs…

The playoffs started out with a three-game round-robin with eight teams moving on from the single pool of 10 teams. (A bit odd, yes, but it was what it was – I think Tom just wanted each team to have a chance to play three games minimum.) Ranking at that point would be by wins and then +/-. Everybody had one game on Friday night and two on Saturday to start.

Our Friday night game went well, but that should be expected since we were playing against the 10th place team. We were on the only diamond without lights, so our game was truncated to eight innings rather than the normal nine. In the end we pulled out an easy 18-11 victory and at this point were pretty-much guaranteed a spot in the next round. Not a huge accomplishment, but a bit of a better start than the year before, though we won that game as well. Our next game was against the sixth placed team, at 8:00 in the morning the next day.

Our first game on Saturday morning went fairly well. We played against the 4th placed team in the Marsh and defeated them without much trouble. We packed up and got ready for the third game in Bradford.

The third game of the round-robin was against the 6th placed team. This team played quite a bit better than their season record would suggest. Our team wasn’t quite so used to the huge field we were playing on for this game, and the difference in the size of the infield was adjusted to well by the our opponent and not so well by us. In the fourth or fifth inning one of the players hit the ball just over my head (about a foot out of my glove’s reach), and that caused an inside the park home run (since there was essentially no fence to back me up). I was playing the averages, but still not happy about the play. We lost the game by six to eight runs in the end. In the end, though, we just let them get to us and pretty-much defeated ourselves. Matt was not at all happy about his hitting for the day and threw his bat against the fence before heading to the dugout. After the game I talked to him for a minute and told him to just relax and have fun hitting, rather than worrying too much about it. I think that helped a bit.

Given the loss in the round robin, our team no longer ranked number one in the quarter-finals match-ups. We ranked third instead, given our wins and +/-. The next game was several hours later against Tom’s team. Now that the round robin was over, we had to get our game in gear. Tom’s team didn’t really pose much of a challenge to us, but it did give me a bit of trouble. One of the balls hit went off my shoulder, and took me a bit to find. Then later, as I was diving forward on a bit of a risky play to catch the ball, it got just under my glove and rammed into my knee. I was a bit stunned, but recovered the ball and threw it to second, but my knee hurt for a good 30 seconds before dying down a bit. Every time I stood up or sat down for the next several hours, it hurt badly, but I was still able to play, despite the pain. I wear shin-pads, but unfortunately they do nothing to protect the knee. At the end of the game, we won by a wide margin and were back in first place in the rankings, thanks to the runs.

From there, we moved on to the semi-finals. Four teams remained: our team, my brother Doug’s team, the team my brother Phil’s team had just lost to,  and the 6th placed team that we had lost to in the round-robin. We played the team that had just beaten Phil’s team on the diamond we had just played, while Doug’s team played the 6th placed team on the diamond we had lost to them on earlier in the day. Both Doug and our team were excited about possibly playing each other in the finals.

The semi-final was interesting, but it didn’t end up being much of a challenge. One one play I lost my footing while going for what should have been an easy catch. I took a spill to the ground and recovered the ball as quickly as I could, but couldn’t figure out what had happened until I got back to the bench and noticed that one of my cleats had ripped off – that explains it. I’d have to go home to put a new one on before the next game. Later on in the game, Hollie got her face in front of the ball on one hit, but unfortunately her glove wasn’t quick enough to get in front of the ball. She went to the bench and sat out the rest of the game. She was okay though, other than a bit of dizziness and a headache for a couple of minutes. In the end, we won handily. We probably would have won either way, but it couldn’t have helped Tom’s team that four of their players had to leave to go to a wedding, while only one of our players had to attend.

Our hopes of playing Doug’s team in the finals did not materialize as we would have liked, however, when Doug’s team lost to the same team that had defeated us earlier on in the day. Our team was still ranked first place, but that means very little in a single-game series final. We had lost probably our best player (Greg) to the wedding, but when he found out that we were in the finals, he left the wedding reception for a couple of hours and came over to play (I don’t know if the people at the wedding appreciated that so much, but we certainly did).

The final game would be played under the lights, back in the Marsh diamond, a diamond which both teams were very familiar with. I quickly went home and replaced my missing cleat before proceeding to the diamond. We smiled at the other team hoping to try to display at least a bit of confidence, though at that moment, we were pretty nervous about playing them again. Our nervousness was pretty clear, however when we got mercied in the top of the first, and were down by eight runs. We pulled up our pants after that and ended the inning down by four. Despite the loss earlier in the day we picked up our spirits and our defense and battled through it for the rest of the game. We weren’t about to let the previous game decide this game for us – we were ranked number one in the season for a reason – we can play well when we try hard and keep going.

After the first couple of innings, the fan support for our team really kicked in and we got a bit of a boost. At one point I got a double on a really close call (thankfully they had more than one umpire), which was a bit of a chance for me, but sometimes you have to take chances to cut the other team’s spirit down a bit (if you can). The next hitter hit one close to first base and caught me between second and third. I faked out the thrower, however, by pretending to commit to second and then racing to third when I saw the throw. Later in the 8th inning I finally got an inside the park home run (it’s been a while) on what probably should be called a triple with a throwing error, but I’ll take it as a home run either way, since I don’t get them often (or at all).

Our team finally tied the game up in the 8th inning, before giving up a single run in the 9th to lose the lead again. We got last bat, however, and started off with lead-off triple. Greg was up to bat next, and we were hoping for at least a single to drive in the tying run. The pitch was thrown, and the ball was hit, but it wasn’t a single, it was a beautiful home run over the fence and over the net to win the game. Matt was ecstatic, and the whole team was on the field and cheering as soon as Greg rounded third base. Matt finally won the season and we gladly accepted our $25 off next season certificates (it’s not a trophy, but we’ll take it). And I was happy to be on both my brothers’ teams when they each won the championships.

So it was another successful season. I went to bed that night, but again couldn’t fall asleep for quite some time. At about 1:30 in the morning when the adrenaline had finally worn off my knee was throbbing and hurt quite a bit, so I took some Advil and finally fell asleep. The next day the knee still hurt a bit, but not so bad. Actually eating throughout the day, (much more than last year,) seems to have helped in terms of recovering from the effort – there was much less general pain after this year’s tournament than there was last year, when I hardly got a chance to eat anything. As far as general stats go, I think I did alright. The fielding was decent most of the time, though there were some errors, as there always will be. Matt tells me that my batting average was the highest on the team for the tournament (Greg had the highest batting average of the season at .800, Matt didn’t remember the exact number for anyone but that one). So overall it was quite a successful year for us all. I doubt that it will be three in a row after next season, but it should be fun whichever team I am on and however the season goes…