Dateline: McLean Field #3
It was a pleasant summer afternoon at McLean field as Reston American came in trying to lock up the first place seed in their bracket. They knew it wasn’t going to be easy against a very strong McLean team. Coach Grossman again consulting Thomas for the toss and he suggested we call “heads.” Coach Grossman went along with his coin-toss specialist and the toss was indeed HEADS. Reston American had secure the home team dugout once again.
Conor went to the mound and threw heat. After a leadoff walk and a fly out to left, one unearned run scored after a tough hop in the infield and Conor settled down to strike out the last batter. Reston American threatened in the bottom of the first as Conor led off with a double to right. Pete hit a swinging bunt to put runners on at first and third with no outs but unfortunately, they were left on base.
In the second, Conor again picked up two strikeouts but unfortunately, McLean hit a couple of hard shots that ended up scoring three runs. Conor finished the inning by getting the last batter to ground out to Kent at third who made a nice play as he fired across the diamond to Justin at first. Conor was done for the day as his pitch count was right where the coaching staff wanted it. He ended the day with four strikeouts and no earned runs. Reston American bats were quiet in the second although Patrick drove a long fly to right which was chased down by the right fielder. After two, McLean National led 4-0, but Reston American fans knew there was a long way to go.
In the third, Pete came in and struck out the side on 12 pitches. It was a fantastic performance against some very strong McLean hitters. Reston American started to chip back. Graham led off with a single to center. He moved to second and third on wild pitches. Conor walked and Graham scored on a wild pitch. Reston American was on the board. McLean settled down and got the top of the order but it was now 4-1 after three.
In the fourth Pete picked up two more strikeouts to run the string to five in a row. The leadoff man grounded weakly to Patrick at second who made a nice play as he threw to Jordan at first. Reston American bats were quiet in the fourth so Pete went to the mound for the fifth.
Pete walked the first batter, struck out the next batter. With one out the inning almost ended as Conor fielded a hard chopper at short stepped on the bag and almost got the unassisted double play. The runner moved to second, third, and home on some wild pitches and passed balls, but Pete settled down and struck out the last batter.
Down 5-1, Reston American showed no signs to quitting. Thomas singled to right and moved to second as the right fielder misplayed the ball. Patrick came in to run for Thomas and moved to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Graham. Conor then walked. Pete then blasted a line drive over the center field wall. With one swing, it was now a one run game and the Reston American fans were celebrating. Sam reached on an infield single and moved to second, third and scored to tie the game on some wild pitches.
With the score tied, Pete came on an struck out the first batter in the sixth. With his pitch count right at 50, Coach Grossman went to the bullpen and put in his closer, Kent to take care of the rest of the game. The first batter hit a hard shot to Conor for out two. The next batter hit a blooper between third and left. It was a tough play — Conor darted behind third and made the catch for out three. Reston American bats were quiet in the sixth and so we moved to extra innings.
Kent strode calmly to the mound. He got the first batter to pop out to Patrick at second. The next batter grounded out to short where Conor made a great play as he fired to Jordan for out two. The next batter was barely hit by a pitch (it hit his jersey). The next batter doubled to left. Sam got the ball at the wall and threw a perfect strike to Conor his cutoff man. Conor turned and fired to Brendan at the plate. The runner tried to score from first. The ball was there, the tag was there and everyone held their breath and waited for the call. There was a deathly, long, long moment of silence as the home plate umpire thought about it. Then he yelled OUT and Reston American celebrated.
In the bottom of the seventh, the top of the order for Reston American went to work. Conor led off with a walk. Pete blasted a single to left. Kent followed with a single to left. Bases loaded, no outs. Winning run on third. Sam, the cleanup hitter at the plate. Infield in, outfield in. Sam fouled off a couple of pitches. He took some balls and suddenly it was 3-2. The last pitch was low for ball four and Conor came in to score the winning run.
Coach Grossman said, “What a game! It was a great comeback win and our whole team was key to the effort. The bottom of the order once again started the comeback. Our defense was solid and all three pitchers did a great job. Pete’s three innings were big and Kent showed tremendous poise at the end. This team is just a pleasure to work with and I’m thrilled to see they have made it out of an extremely tough bracket. We’ll have our work cut out for us next week. We certainly want to end on a good note against a solid McLean American team on Tuesday and I’m sure we’ll have some more great practices and be ready for the semi-final game next Friday