Dateline: Fox Mill
It was a blistering morning as the Cards entered the playoffs with hopes to take down the first place Nationals. The Cards ended up as the #4 seed and the Nationals took over first place during the final week of the season finishing half a game ahead of the Cubs with a 7-5-2 record vs a 7-6-1 record for the Cubs. This reporter notes that the Cardinals had two ties and three losses by a run. If they had won four of those with only six well placed runs, the Cardinals would have finished in first place. [Editors Note: Our publication does not usually engage in a bunch of meaningless daydreaming such as this, but in this case we decided to pay some homage to Coach Grossman since he thought it should be included as he really does believe his team was a good bit better than its record and if they would have just played another 20 games the world would know how good they really were. We aren’t so such of this, but we decided to accede to the ole coaches demands since he was quite adamant.]
Michael jumped on the Nats starter with a hard single. Carter grounded out to second. Jamie smashed a single to left and Matthew singled to score Michael and Jamie. Michael got the start and looked sharp. After hitting the first batter he settled down and struck out the second batter. The next batter singled. The next batter singled to right and some tough plays resulted in three runs scoring. Coach Grossman went to the mound and settled everyone down. Michael struck out the next two batters. After one it was 3-2 Nationals.
Rei singled to lead off the second. A bad throw to first moved him to second and he moved to third on a wild pitch. Isaac popped out to short for out one. Mikhail hit a slow roller to third, the National pitcher got it and tagged Rei as he tripped heading back to third. Zach grounded out to the mound for out three. Michael hit the first batter and then settled down for three quick strikeouts. After two it was a 3-2 game.
Top of the third. With two outs, Michael singled and Carter smashed a shot to third that was caught for out three. Michael struck out the first batter. The next batter singled. The next batter singled to left. The next batter singled to score a run. Matthew came on in relief and struck out two batters to end the inning. Jamie fouled out to first to start the inning. Matthew was hit by a pitch on his foot. Maxwell grounded into a fielders choice. Johnny drilled a soft toss to center. Rei singled to load the bases with two outs. It was a dramatic at bat as Isaac headed to the plate with his team down by two. Go ahead run on first. Isaac looked good and got ready for the pitch. He took the first pitch for a strike. The second pitch was a ball low. He had a great cut and fouled off a hard fastball. The pitcher got him with a called strike on a high fastball. Oh the drama it was but Matthew went to the mound and looked great. He struck out two batters in short order and got the last batter to ground out to the mound. After four it was still anyone’s game at 4-2 Nationals.
Top of the fifth and the Cards went down quietly. Two quick strikeouts and Jordan hit a line drive to short for out three. Bottom of the fifth and the first batter doubled. The next batter singled to score a run. Coach Grossman brought in Maxwell. Maxwell looked good and got the batter to ground out to the mound. The next batter singled to score a run. Two more singles and another run score. Coach Grossman brought in Jamie with three runs in and one out. Jamie hit the first batter to load the bases, but settled down and blasted two strikeouts by the next two batters for a great job in closing out the inning.
The game moved to the sixth inning. Kyle singled to start the inning. Michael grounded into a fielders choice at short for out one. Carter grounded into a fielders choice at third for out two. Jamie blasted a shot to the wall in left center and scored on a clean in-the-park home run. Suddenly it was a 7-4 ballgame. Matthew singled to keep hope alive. Maxwell hit the ball hard but the Nationals defense made a great fielders choice at second for out three. Final Score: Nationals 7 Cardinals 4.
Coach Grossman said, “Well this one is going to take a while to get over. We had plenty of chances to win the game, but credit has to go to the Nationals defense. They had five fielders choice putouts on the day, they caught five more balls in the air. We put a lot of balls in play and they made the plays they needed to in order to win the game. We had 29 guys at the plate and of those 14 were given a soft toss. Of those 14, only 8 (57.1%) reached first base. On the other hand, they sent 28 batters to the plate, our pitchers only gave up 6 soft tosses. Of those six, five of the six (83%) reached first on the soft toss. I haven’t studied these numbers over the course of the year, but my general feeling is that we have been outpitching teams by not giving up as many soft tosses, but unfortunately, in this case the Nationals played great defense on our soft tosses. We outhit them 12 hits to 10 but unfortunately we left eight runners on base as compared to only five for the Nationals. All these numbers just mean that I would just absolutely love to play them again. They are a good team, but I will always believe this team could match up against anyone in the league. Finally, let me say that I expect that in a few years people are going to see our players and I suspect most, if not all of them will still be playing. The whole team showed tremendous improvement, the parents were phenomenal and I was truly honored to coach this team.”