Dateline: Fox Mill 2
On an extremely muggy evening the Red Sox and the Marlins met in the semi-final round of the Reston AA Playoffs. The winner would move to the championship game. The Marlins were the number one seed from the National League and had started the season with an 8 game winning streak that was brutally snapped 15-9 by the Red Sox. The fans were in their seats early and it was clear that it was going to be standing-room-only well before game time. The players trotted out onto Fox Mill’s spacious field and the scoreboard was up and running right at game time.
The Marlins starter shocked the Red Sox with one of their only zero run first innings. Garrett came on and pitched well, but the Marlins were able to piece together four runs. The key play in the first was a shot to deep left which Matt chased down and made a beautiful catch. As so often has happened throughout the season the Red Sox fought back. A leadoff single by Ben, a ground out by Jack to move Ben to second and a run scoring single by Michael gave the Sox their first run. Walks to Will, TJ, and Kyle scored Michael, Will, and TJ and the score was tied at 4-4. In the bottom of the second, Ben came on and had some control problems. After four walks, he settled down and got a key strikeout, but unfortunately the Marlins scored on some wild pitches to give the Marlins an 8-4 lead after two.
The Red Sox continued to battle back in the top of the third. Using their explosive offense that is feared throughout the league, Corey led off with a walk, Jared walked, Justin singled to score Corey. Chris hit a big single to score Garrett and Justin. Ben singled to score Chris. Matt came in and held the Marlins to only a run. So after three it was an exciting 9-8 ball game.
With a big chance to take the lead, the Marlins closer came on and got Jack to ground out to first and the next batter struck out. With two outs, the Sox began to Rally. Will walked, and TJ singled him to second. A wild pitch moved Will to third. Coach Grossman as he has done so often (with mixed results) sent Will on a wild pitch that bounced back to the screen. This is one time that even this reporter thought it was a safe bet to send Will. The ball took a nice hop for the Marlins and bounced off the screen and towards home. The catcher scooped it up and made a beautiful play and dove towards home. Will slid in and was tagged just before he hit the plate. The crowd moaned. This reporter heard a lot of on-lookers wondering when or if Coach Grossman will ever learn how to Coach third.
In the bottom of the fourth, Matt was again in charge. He struck out the leadoff batter, hit the next two batters, and settled down to induce a sharp grounder to Ben who scooped it up, set his feet and fired to Justin at first. It was a beautiful play. With two outs, a wild pitch scored the runner and moved another runner to third. Happily, Matt settled down to strikeout the final batter. After four it was 10-8 Marlins.
Due to time constraints, the fifth inning was deemed the final inning. The Red Sox had to score two runs to stay alive. Coach Grossman called a rare team meeting. After several interviews with the players, this reporter has learned approximately what Coach Grossman said to the team. He said (roughly) “You guys have played a fantastic game, you’ve had a great season, lets get some runs so we can keep the game going.” The Red Sox cheered and went to work. Kyle walked, Corey grounded out to third, but Kyle raced all the way to third on the ground out. A walk to Jared put the tying run on base. Garrett hit a chopper back to the mound, Coach Grossman sent Kyle home in another risky maneuver. This time it paid off. The pitcher instead of taking the sure out at first, threw home as Coach Grossman had hoped. The throw was wild again as Coach Grossman hoped and the Red Sox were now down 10-9 with one out and runners on first and second. Justin grounded out and the runners advanced. A wild pitch scored Jared who was the tying run and Garrett moved to third with two outs. The Red Sox rejoiced as they were now only 60 feet from the lead. Sadly the closer got a final strikeout and the Marlins came up to bat with the score tied 10-10. Matt struck out the first batter, walked the next batter and got a ground ball to first for the next batter. With two outs, the Marlins had a runner on second. Unfortunately, two wild pitches occurred and the runner scored the winning run. The Marlins rejoiced.
Coach Grossman said, ” The Marlins are a great team and they played as well as they could possibly play tpnight. I really thought we had a great chance to win this game. I am so proud of our team. I really think these guys deserved to make it to the championship game and I wanted them to experience it. But, one can never tell with baseball. I know our guys learned a lot this year, they improved tremendously, and they came together as a team. Also, I suspect most of them will play next year. That’s really all I can ask..” This reporter started to ask a question about sending Will home and if Coach Grossman was going to continue to coach third in the future, but Coach Grossman cut him off with a quick “no comment.” This reporter has learned that Coach Grossman has been named an assistant to the Reston 11 year old National League All-Star team as Coach Grossman had to immediately begin all-star preparations and had to briskly end the interview. Coach Goldstein said,” Well, the boys played tough. Its very hard to win on the road and it came down to one run. How many big league teams can boast a .769 winning percentage. And we beat the Yankees twice. Good season, hope to see you all playing next year.”