Thursday, April 13, 2017

Freshman Baseball Update, Game 5

Following the ignominious doubleheader sweep at Las Lomas, the freshman boys headed back up to Marin County to face off against Redwood again.  Now that their bats had awakened a bit, team was hopeful that it could put up a better fight than in the previous shutout.

We had been told that the coaches of the two teams had agreed informally to run the game more like a practice game, with no extended endings for pictures and more playing time for some of the bench players.  We started our ace, but only intended to pitch him for a single inning.  Redwood had other ideas, notwithstanding whatever discussions the coaches may have had, and stuck with a couple of their better pitchers (who we had seen in the prior game) for extended outings.

Regardless of how pre-game arrangements may have crumbled, it was up to the boys to play hard and well.  The game did not start particularly well, with our boys hitting into three quick outs at the plate, and then allowing an unearned run on a walk, a hit batter, and an error by Michael at shortstop.  Thankfully, he made the next play without incident to cap the first-inning scoring at a single run. 
Redwood put up a couple more runs in the next inning, but in the top of the third, the Campolindo boys finally broke out of their batting slump against Redwood.  With a walk, a series of singles (including one from Michael) and a key two-run double, Campo pulled ahead 5-3, one of the few leads they had enjoyed up to that point in the season.  Unfortunately, the boys gave the two-run lead back in the bottom of the inning when we took our ace pitcher out of the game.  The next couple of innings sought Redwood pull ahead by one and Campo claw that run back to re-establish a tie score at six runs apiece.

The season debut of the red uniform.
Things unraveled for good in the bottom of the fifth.  With Michael on the mound, he gave up a single and two walks.  He would tell you the umpire was squeezing him.  For once, I would have to agree with him.  He was not throwing wildly; he was consistently hitting spots on low corners of the zone, but he could not draw strike from the Empire.  Other parents openly (but respectfully quietly) also questioned some of the calls, and our catcher twice turned around the umpire to ask where particular pitches had missed.  As they all have to learn, however, they have to play within the constraints the umpire gives them.  Michael was unable to adapt, and ended up facing one of Redwood’s best players with the bases loaded and nobody out.  The batter had been a teammate of Michael’s over the summer on a team mostly made up of upperclassman, so we all knew he was a quality player.  He did not disappoint, driving a double just over our leftfielder’s head to score two runs.  After a groundout, a single and another walk, Michael was done on the mound without getting through the inning.  He went back to shortstop, where, ironically, he made the next out on the ground ball.  When all was said and done, Redwood had pulled ahead, 10-6.

He looked the part on the mound, even if the results didn't follow. 
Photo credit:  C. Maher

To their credit, the boys did not give up, scoring two in the top of the next inning.  For his part, Michael led off with a walk, stole second, took third on a groundout and scored on another groundout. 

On second, waiting to be driven home.
In the end, that is as close as the boys could get.  In the top of the last inning, one of our players singled, but with two outs, Michael lined out hard to the first baseman to end the game.
The boys were disappointed with another loss, particularly when both their bats and their defense improved.  It was the pitching that let them down this time, and Michael in particular had an uncharacteristically bad outing. 

They were happy to prove, though, that they could score runs against a high-quality team.  If they ever put together a complete game with quality hitting, pitching and defense, they should be competitive against anybody.  The surprise at this point is that, for a team made up primarily of players who have spent the last several years together, they are playing as if they don’t know each other.  A mysteriously consistent tendency toward physical and mental mistakes that they did not exhibit in the previous season explains most of the results so far. 

With loose ends still needing to be tightened up, a doubleheader against their archrival Miramonte, dominant early going, loomed as the next opponent on the schedule.

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