It was a warm day as the Nats jumped on the A’s starter in the top of the first to start off the playoffs. Finished 5-7 the Nats were the #5 seed and the A’s were the #4 seed. Shane singled with one out for his first of what would be three hits on the day. Jake grounded out and Frankie and CJ singled to score Shane. Henry singled to score CJ. Anthony made good contact but grounded out to the mound. Jake got the start and looked sharp. He threw strikes but the A’s had a few good hits and scored four runs. After one it was 4-2 A’s.
Top of the second and the Nats went right back to work. DJ hit a very sharp grounder to first where the first baseman made a nice play for out one. Michael and Joseph walked. Kahlil popped up to the mound to end the threat. Bottom of the second and Jake only gave up one walk and a catcher’s interference with two strikes. He struckout two. With runners on at first and third, Coach Grossman called for the throw down to second on the double steal as there were two outs to try to end the inning — sadly the runner was safe and a run scored. Jake quickly struck out the next batter. After two it was 5-2 A’s.
Top of the third and the Nats offense opened up on the new pitcher. Shane led off with a single. Jake blasted a shot that took one bounce to the outfield fence. He scored on a wild pitch. Frankie singled, CJ walked and Henry walked and Frankie and CJ scored on wild pitches. Bottom of the third and Jake struck out the side. After three it was 6-5 Nationals.
Top of the fourth and the Nats got on base with walks to DJ and Joseph. They advanced on wild pitches, but DJ was caught trying to score on a wild pitch (by just a step) at home. Coach Grossman sent Jake to the mound but the umpire thought there was a hard pitch count limit of 50 or 3 innings. The coaches consulted the local rules and the umpire told Coach Grossman he was positive of the rule. So Coach Grossman did not wish to hold up the game and let it go. [Editors Note: Sadly no such rule exists but the adult umpires are volunteers and this one does quite a bit of additional work for the league as he is the league player agent so one has to give him the benefit of the doubt. The reality is Coach Grossman should always have a copy of the local rules at the game and our reporters have learned that he meant to print out a new copy this morning. Turns out he used to have one in his bag but it became so battered that he threw it away a couple of weeks ago. Our reporters have interviewed Coach Grossman and he said he was going to print them this morning but never got it done. One wonders why it was so hard for Coach Grossman to print out a few sheets of paper, but we digress]. Anyway, Shane came on to pitch and threw strikes. A couple of errors and singles and four runs scored. After three it was 9-6 A’s.
Top of the fifth and the Nats kept working. Jake singled, Frankie singled, CJ was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Jake scored on a wild pitch. The A’s pitcher settled down and got the next two batters. Bottom of the fifth and Shane came on and got the A’s with no runs. After five it was 9-7.
This setup a dramatic sixth inning. With one out, Joseph walked. Ben fouled off a few good balls and drove the pitch count up but ultimately struck out for out two. Only one out was left. The Nats didn’t give up. The top of the order came and Kahil walked. The A’s went with their closer to try to avoid a bottom of the sixth. Shane singled off the closer to score Joseph. A wild pitch moved t was suddenly a one run game. Jake was at the plate and he already had a single and a triple. Kahlil, the tying run advanced to third on a wild pitch and Shane the go-ahead run advanced to second. It was exciting. Jake smashed a hard grounder to short, the shortstop made a nice play and got Jake by a step. Final Score: A’s 9 Nationals 8.
Coach Grossman said, “Wow that was not an easy way to end the season. We played a great team and credit should go to the A’s as they made the plays they had to make but I’m really proud of our guys. We only scored three runs against them the last two times we played them and today we scored eight with 10 hits. So many plays that were so close to getting us one more run. I’m really proud of how our guys fought back and you can bet I’ll have a laminated copy of the local rules the rest of my life. I take full responsibility as I should have had a copy of the local rules. I hate for our team to have to end the season on a tough loss like this, but our players are resilient and I hope I get the good fortune of coaching some of them again as they progress. I am very proud of this team and how much they accomplished this season. I wish everyone a great offseason.
For those going to the season ending picnic next Sunday, Coach Grossman will be running the Home Run Derby and he will be in the dunk tank at 1:00 — so feel free to come and dunk him in the cold water repeatedly.