We jogged it back to the dugout.
“They’re getting a little restless, Coach.” I heard Dave say. “That runner was definitely looking for a collision or some kind of interference call. Sean was quick, but it was close.”
Coach scowled and let out a curse. He looked around the team. “Everyone keep an eye out. We won’t give up on this game just like that, but don’t make any risky plays. We’re more than halfway through. Hang in there.”
I sat down on the bench with a sigh.
“This isn’t as bad as last year, but that’s probably because they had a talking to from the tournament people.” Noah sat beside me.
I nodded. I was thinking the same thing.
The lefty stayed on the mound and mowed through our guys. Korrey struck out. Jesse grounded out to short and Mitch grounded out to third. Top of the fifth we go.
We took our positions on the field and threw the ball around as we waited. Mitch was last up to bat so it took him an extra minute to get his gear back on. Until then, Dave threw lightly to Logan who simply had a mask on and sat crouched behind home plate. Mitch came out and took over, getting some faster pitches from Dave.
Dave’s first opponent of the inning was batter number five. He attacked the very first pitch, blasting it to left-center field, dropping the ball between Garret and Korrey. The batter made it to second base by the time the ball got back to Noah. Noah glanced at the runner to make sure he was staying, then threw the ball to Dave on the mound.
“Okay, okay. Next one.” He said.
Mitchell gave the sign from the plate for us to shift accordingly due to the runner on second.
Sadly, the next guy up was the only other guy to get a hit off of Dave. And it was a solo homerun back in the second inning.
Our outfielders were given the sign to back up. We could allow a hit, just not one beyond the fence.
Dave missed his spot a couple of times, throwing two balls outside the zone. Then he tried to come back in, but the batter had a read on it. He made solid contact and the ball went flying. To left field. Again. I tried not to cringe or show any emotion as the ball left the field. The score changed to a tie, 3-3, as the runners rounded the bases and tagged home to score.
A new ball was given to Dave.
Noah took some long strides to get to the mound. He subtly motioned for the rest of us to follow. I jogged it in, showing up the same time as Noah. Jason and Sean weren’t that far behind.
“We’ll get it back.” Noah stated. Not just to Dave, but to all of us.
I nodded, completely believing in him. There hasn’t been a time yet, where we didn’t get it back. Jason and Sean also looked unconcerned.
Noah pointed at Dave. “The only question now is, can you start getting some outs? Or do we need someone else to come out of the bullpen?”
Dave glanced out at the bullpen, where we could see some movement. “Are you kidding? I’m still hot. I’ve only given up three hits and my pitch count is low.” He grinned. “I’ll shut them out from here. Leave it to you guys on offense to get me the win back.”
Noah grinned and bumped his fists. “Damn straight. Let’s see it.”
The rest of us joined in and then had to hurry back to our positions before the ump got antsy.
Dave seemed to calm down and threw only strikes. Batter number seven got a piece of one and lifted it to left field just like the previous batter. I held my breath as Korrey chased it down and made the catch on the warning track. One out. I sighed with relief.
Dave got back on track after that though. He struck out the next two guys. One swinging, and the other one looking to end the inning. We hustled back to the dugout for our turn at offense.
“Dave, you good?” Coach questioned as soon as we got in.
Dave paused to talk to Coach. “I am!” He let out a depressed sigh. “That guy is good and has my number. Giving up that double was really my only mistake.”
Coach thought about and gave a small nod. “Okay, you can bat this inning and pitch another. Maybe a pitcher change when he comes up again.”
Dave let out another sigh. “Yea. Okay.”
Coach slapped his back. “Don’t let it get you down. You’re bound to face a batter like that sooner or later.” He gestured to me. “You don’t want to be like the other teams we face, where they can only intentionally walk our best batter. It’s better to bring another pitcher in. We can even use Garret for one at bat, and still keep him for the finals.”
Dave went to get his helmet on. “I don’t really like that guy being compared to Jake. He doesn’t deserve it.”
“He has more homeruns than me this game.” I mumbled under my breath.
Noah was the only one to hear me. He laughed and bumped me. “I bet if they were brave enough to pitch to you, you would smash another one out of the park.”
I don’t really smash balls. I try to get a homerun using the shortest amount of distance required.
Dave left the dugout and headed for the plate. Sean was out in the on deck circle and Garret right behind him in the hole. Noah started to put on his gear too.
Dave stood no chance against the lefty in the batter’s box. He struck out swinging.
Coach gave him a look.
Dave looked embarrassed. “What? I can’t help that all my attention is on my pitching. I’ll clean up these losers in the sixth.” He hurried to his bag to put away his batting stuff.
Sean got in the lefty’s box and was set. The pitcher started his motion and then threw past him for strike one. And for strike two. Ball one. 1-2, Sean got under the next pitch, hitting it just beyond the infield. The center fielder came sprinting in and made a spectacular diving catch for the second out.
“Everyone has now faced this guy and we’ve got no hits.” Coach grumbled as I stood beside him. I was ready to go if we could get a couple guys on base before the inning ended.
Garret was up to bat and Noah was on deck.
Garret made solid contact, but it was a line drive right to left field. We didn’t take the lead back as soon as we wanted.
But next inning, I would get my chance. Maybe. If they even pitch to me.
Noah and I switched out our gear in silence, lost in our own thoughts. We hurried out to the field, jogging to our positions.
Dave would start at the top of the lineup for the third time this game. The early batters had nothing on him. No one except the sixth batter really did any damage. Dave got the first guy to strikeout swinging. The second batter chased an away pitch and hit a grounder down the line.
Sean had to dive for it, stopping it from going to the outfield. Then he threw it to Dave who was in a foot race to first base against the batter. Dave tagged the base nearly at the same time as the batter. They both fell together and I heard Dave start cursing.