That may well have been one of the best games I’ve been involved with across my time coaching junior baseball.
I say that because in many ways the outcome was the most positive proof of the ideals behind which we have approached the season so far.
Our game against Berwick was fantastic. We didn’t have it all our own way against an accomplished Berwick team. They have some terrific young players – and we certainly saw the reason they have had such a successful beginning to the season. They will be a side to watch as the season continues – there is no doubt.
It was an old fashioned pitchers dual at the start of the game … both starters doing well to stay on top, and by the time that Robinson hit his pitch count he’d given up one run across 2 and a third innings, his opposite number doing exactly the same.
The encouraging thing for us – all the boys were taking great swings. It has been the focus over the last few weeks now, and it seems like the confidence to swing as arrived. Sure, we had a few strikeouts, but we fouled pitches off, swung and good pitchers – and worked walks when appropriate, not just for the sake of getting on base and not using the bat.
This is a massive step forward – and ultimately the reason we scraped through with the 5-2 win.
When the game was there to be won, our boys took the opportunity in the bottom of the 4th and played aggressive baseball. We worked a couple of walks to get runners on base (Angus, Robinson) – then a hard hit single from Sidney loaded the bases with no outs and made sure the pressure was back on the Berwick side. With Peter walking to score Angus, Sunny strode into the batters box and laced a ball into the outfield. Roo scored from 3rd, but some terrific base running (and coaching) saw Sid score from second. It was a terrific play – and one that shows the true value of putting a ball in play. One hit, scored 2 runs – it’s brilliant value on a hit, and exactly the thing we had been talking about.
Hunter then struck a hard ground ball of his own to keep the runners moving, and once again load the bases. A couple of walks ended the game, with us coming out on top.
It was true team effort, and credit should go to Peter DeZuba for a great outing on the mound. He too only gave up one run on 4 hits, and it is that ability to shut down a team of very good hitters that put us in that position. Special mention too for a brilliant come-backer play that didn’t quite work out, but showed the baseball brain all out boys are developing.
I’m so pleased with how we’re coming along – and how each weeke we see different players stepping up and playing critical parts in our performance. It’s brilliant to see.
And if you haven’t caught the little smile Peter gets on his face when he strikes out a hitter … keep your eye out. It is a special little moment in the game, and for me, better than any win this time could put together. It’s a young man enjoying his baseball. And that’s what it is all about.
Next Sunday is the Sandy Little League Minor Derby. The Kings will host us at home. It should be a fun game. Thanks once again to Andrea, and apologies for the ever changing schedule – thanks too to Nick Stillwell who does well to put up with me, and to Dave Housden for calling a great game. You certainly notice the difference when an umpire bothers to call from behind the plate!
Have a great week, and I’ll see you at home next Sunday.
Let’s Go Royals.
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