Dateline: Fox Mill 1
On a beautiful fall evening, the Cubs were again on the road against the O’s. In the top of the first Conor led off with a walk and quickly stole second and third. Justin and Greg walked to load the bases. Kaz walked to score Conor. Danny walked to score Justin. Kengo hit a shot to right to score to score Greg and his brother Kaz. Without much time passing the Cubs had hit the four run limit and took the field. Dylan started and got the leadoff man to groundout back to the mound where Dylan made a nice play as he tossed to Kaz for out one. The next batter hit a tough popup behind second, but Conor drifted over and made the catch for out two. A misplayed ball and a couple of walks led to two runs. Dylan settled down and got the next batter to hit a towering fly to Greg who calmly came over and made the catch behind third in foul territory. After one it was Cubs 4 O’s 2.
The Cubs bats were quiet in the second. Dylan led off the second with two quick strikeouts, a couple of walks put him past his 50 pitch count so Coach Grossman was obligated to change pitchers. Greg came out of the bullpen and threw heat. The batter hit a shot to Conor who made a nice play at short and he flipped to third. The ball got past Danny at third. The O’s sent the runner home. Danny quickly scooped the ball and fired to John at the plate who tagged the runner in plenty of time for out three. Cubs fans rejoiced. After two it was Cubs 4 O’s 2.
The Cubs bats were again quiet in the third. Greg started the third and the first batter hit one to deep left and sped around the bases for an in the park home run. Greg threw more good strikes but four walks and an error in the field resulted in four runs for the O’s. After three the O’s led 6-4.
The Cubs retaliated in the fourth as Kaz walked and moved to second and third on wild pitches. Dylan hit a key RBI single to right to score Kaz. Kengo hit a shot to first where the first baseman made a nice catch. Justin came on to pitch the fourth. He made a nice pitch to the leadoff man but an error in the field resulted in the runner being safe at first. Three straight walks brought in a run. Coach Grossman brought in Conor from the bullpen. Conor struck out the first batter, but two more walks brought in two runs. Conor settled down and struck out two more to end the inning. . Note: The alert reader will notice only three runs scored seem to have scored, but the scorekeeper has four in the book and maybe this reporter was napping, but he can’t figure out where the fourth run came from. This reporter has known the scorekeeper for many years, so he suspects the fourth run did score, but he has no idea how. After four it looked bleak for the Cubs as the O’s led 10-5.
Due to time constraints it was decided the fifth inning would be the last inning. After a leadoff out, John walked. He stole second and Christian hit a huge single to right. Jordan walked to load the bases with one out. Robbie walked to score John. Colin walked for a key RBI to score Christian. Suddenly, Cubs fans came alive. The bases were loaded with the top of the order coming up and only one out. Conor drilled a shot to left to score Robbie. Justin walked to score Colin. It was now 10-9 O’s. Greg smashed a single to deep left Colin easily scored to tie the game and Conor came tearing around third as the go-ahead run. Coach Grossman sent him home and the O’s made a great throw to the cutoff man who threw a perfect bullet to the catcher at home to get Conor by a step. This reporter noted many fans wondering why Coach Grossman took such a risk with his cleanup man on deck. This reporter notes that he’s seen this sort of risk taking from Coach Grossman over the years and he wonders why he continues to coach third. Back to our story. With two outs Kaz came up with runners on third and second. Kaz blasted a long drive to left, but unfortunately it was straight at the left fielder who caught it for out three. It was now up to Conor to shut down the O’s and preserve the tie. He calmly struck out three batters in only fourteen pitches to end the game 10-10.
Coach Grossman had very little time for a post game interview due to the need to start immediately preparations for Saturday’s game. He said, “The O’s really looked good today. They hit well, fielded well and threw a lot of strikes. Anytime you can come back against a team like that a tie really feels great. Our guys played together as a team and are just a fun ballclub to work with — I think once our fielding improves we’ll see our pitching improve too. Our pitchers did throw a lot of walks, but many of them came after misplays in the field. Its tough to settle down after an error and I think some more fielding practice to where we start to make the routine plays will really help our club. We’ll get to work on that tomorrow and I am sure we’ll be ready for Saturday.”
When asked why on Earth he sent Conor with only one out, he said, “Well you reporters are always complaining about this sort of thing if the runner is out.” The story is that he’s incredibly fast and they made a great play in the field. I thought we’d get a run there and I figured Kaz would then have third and second and he’d drive in a few runs and then Dylan would drive in some more. Kaz certainly did his part by hitting a solid shot to left. This is one call I’d make again any time — they had to make a great throw to get Conor.” This reporter is a little weary of Coach Grossman’s explanations on this sort of thing so he ended the interview.
Coach Goldstein said, ” Our catchers are progressing nicely and I thought the ump called a very tight strike zone — our pitchers were around the plate quite a bit. We’ll have a good practice tomorrow and be ready to go Saturday.”