Dateline: Fred Crabtree Park (Smith Field) — formerly Fox Mill 1

On a perfect fall evening, the Ironbirds took the field for their second contest of the season. They calmly warmed up in left field as they prepared for their first game under the light. For those readers new to Reston Little League, this field is used for all Reston Majors games (the league is for ages 10-12) and some AAA games (ages 8-11). In this reporters opinion, its the best field in Fairfax County and trust this publication — our staff reporters have been to plenty of fields. The field is under consideration to host the 9-10 state championship in 2009 so its not just the opinion of this reporter.

The Ironbirds batted first and the offense got quickly to work. Matthew beat out an infield hit. Alec grounded back to the mound but with his speed he easily beat the throw to first. Scott drilled a shot to center to load the bases. Nicole came through with a big hit to shortstop to score Matthew. Marcus hit one to third to pick up an RBI and score Alec. Zack hit another shot to short to score Scott. Mitchell beat out a sharp grounded back to the mound to score Nicole. Olivia hit a hard grounder to short to score Marcus. Grayson hit a shot to left field and Zack easily scored. Logan beat out an infield hit to short and Isaac, batting last as Coach Grossman went with a strategy of reverse-favoritism this week hit a nice drive to second and he happily rounded the bases to end the inning.

In the bottom of the first, the Ironbirds played tough defense with a number of great plays. The player rotated positions every three or four batters and the rotation went very smoothly. Marcus was all over the field. On one grounder to second, Marcus flew in from left field and almost made the play. This reporter notes that he has had access to some of the closed-to-the-public practices and on occasion, Coach Grossman has sometimes designated Marcus a “rover” and the play has worked very nicely. This reporter notes the Birds looked quite alert in the field and balls were being throw to first — much quicker than last week.

In the second and third inning, the offensive barrage continued. No one got an IronBird out until the last batter and a big time was had by all. On defense the Ironbirds looked sharp with Mitchell and Matthew and Olivia making some nice stops on some balls and Logan did a great job covering first in the bottom of the third inning. We note that in the second inning Zack did throw the ball at the Mudcats last batter as he forgot to “tag” him out and thought we were playing a game of “throw the ball at the runner.” A bench-clearing brawl almost ensued, but clear heads prevailed and Zack is now up on the notion of TOUCH the RUNNER with the BALL and not throw the ball at the runner. Watching T-ball makes a person realize that this is not a simple game.

Coach Grossman was only available for a brief interview as he had to begin immediate preparations for next Saturday’s game — a huge rematch against the very same rival Mudcats. He said, “Well, we knew those Mudcats would be tough, but we had a couple of great practices. I was happy to see all eleven players made it to the game — I know Zack was battling a cold earlier in the week so its great to have everyone off the DL. I really liked what I saw in the field as our players were consistently getting the ball out of their hands MUCH more than last week. We clearly have to work on improving the distance of our throws and improvising our ability to move our feet laterally to get ground balls. We’ve got some fun drills of that so our players should be just fine. I want to thank our parents for all their hard work making this night a big success for our players. I bet some of them remember this game more than many other games in their experience. The field had to look like a field-of-dreams to some of them. Thanks goes to Coach Goldstein for the sound setup — he has worked with the league to acquire all new speakers this past Spring and he set them up before the game. Coach Little was in the press box announcing all of our players. Coach Allen worked the concession stand and Coach Vedder did a fantastic job as bench coach. I really have to thank everyone who helped out tonight — its great to come to the field and immediately have a bunch of people helping out. See you all at practice this week.

Coach Goldstein said “I started to see some improvement in the field and at the plate. We’ll be ready for next Saturday.”

A few tickets remain for the rematch against the Mudcats next Saturday at 10:00.

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