Dateline: Browns Chapel
On a hot Spring evening, the Indians started a home stand against the National league leading Pirates. At 7-0, the Pirates are the last unbeaten team in either league and the Indians were coming off a big win over the American league leading White Sox. The stage was set for a thriller and the fans were not disappointed.
Charles went to the mound and gave up a leadoff single, a walk and another weak single to score two runs. He settled down and struck out the next batter and then the infield looked sharp with a great play on a ground ball at third by Christian V. who fired to Will at first, followed by a nice play at short by Brendan for out three. In the bottom of the first, the Pirates started their ace Andy G. (he played for Coach Grossman on the Fall AA Rangers a couple of years ago) who gave up a leadoff walk to Brendan who was barely cut down stealing second, and two quick strike outs. After one it was Pirates 2 Indians 0.
The Pirates added to their lead in the second with two leadoff walks. Charles settled down and got a strikeout, but the next batter drilled a shot to deep center for a double to score two. Charles struck out the next batter, but then walked one and gave up a single to put runners on at first and second. Coach Grossman brought in Christian V. for his first appearance of the year and he threw a tough fastball to Andy G. who hit a towering fly to left that Chad drifted over and caught for a huge out three. Andy G. for the Pirates made quick work of the Indians in the second with three strikeouts. After two, the Indians were right in it at Pirates 4 Indians 0.
Brendan came on in the third and looked sharp. He gave up a single and a walk to put runners on at first and second. The next batter hit a high popup to second that Chad again drifted over and caught for out one (this reporter notes that he alertly fired to Will at first to try to get a double play but the runner just got in ahead of the throw). A fly ball to right that got lost in the sun resulted in two runs. Indians fans immediately started raising funds for a retractable dome that will block out too much sunlight.
Brendan settled down and blasted two quick strikeouts to end the inning. In the bottom of the third, Indians bats were quiet with a strikeout but a walk to Pedro got things rolling. He stole second and went to third on an overthrow into center. Nikhil then just missed an RBI as he hit a hard shot to first that the first baseman handled and touched first. After three it was Pirates 6 Indians 0, but Indians fans knew the team would come storming back.
Brendan struck out the first batter and got the next batter to ground out to Christian at short who made a great play as he fired to Will to get out two. A walk, a single and a double scored two runs and another single scored a third run. Brendan settled down and struck out the next batter for out three. Down 9-0, the Indians (as expected) came storming back. With one out, Brendan walked and Charles hit a long double to right to score Brendan and the Indians were on the board. A ground out back to the mound moved Charles to third with two outs. Will hit a huge single to right to score Charles. Christian V. walked. Connor blasted a sharp single to right to score Will. Chad hit a hard single up the middle to score Christian V. Pirates fans breathed a huge sigh of relief as the four run limit put a stop to the offensive barrage. The Pirates had lost some of their cushion as it was now Pirates 9 Indians 4.
Will came on in the fifth and threw blistering heat. He led off with a walk, but settled down and struck out the next batter and got the next batter to ground out back to the mound where Will made a nice stop and flipped to Christian T. at first for out two. The next batter grounded back slowly to the first and Christian T. charged it and tagged the runner. The field umpire called the runner safe, but Coach Grossman appealed the call to the home plate umpire (who this reporter believes should have been making the call in the first place) and the runner was called out. (Editors Note: Our publication likes to point out any instance when Coach Grossman does something useful).
In the bottom of the fifth, Indians bats picked up where they left off. Nicholas walked to lead off the inning. With two outs Jesus blasted a long triple to right to score Nicholas. Brendan walked. With runners on at first and third, Coach Grossman put on the double steal. Brendan took off for second and beat the throw and as soon as the ball crossed the pitchers mound, Jesus broke for home. He was safe without a throw. Charles again picked up a key RBI with a single center to score Brendan. Now it was anyone’s game at Pirates 9 Indians 7.
In the sixth Will blasted a quick strikeout by the leadoff batter and induced a weak popup back to the mound by the second batter. A couple of singles put runners on first and second with two outs. A wild pitch moved them to second and third. A very weak popup in no-mans land behind third landed to score two runs. The runner moved to second on a wild pitch. Then an even weaker popup behind short and third also landed to barely score a run as Nikhil’s alert throw to Connor at home almost got the runner. Will settled down and struck out the next batter for out three. Indians fans held out hope for another rally as the team was only down by five. Will led off with a single to center and moved to second on a wild pitch. Connor got his second big hit to right on the day to score Will. With two outs, Coach Grossman sent Connor on a steal to second and the throw beat him by just a split second for out three. Final Score: Pirates 12 Indians 8.