Last week, they went into the end-of-the-season tournament as the sixth seed out of eight teams. Tuesday night, they played a good team that has beaten them by one point in the regular season. But riding an upswing that started in the last few weeks of the season, they emerged the winners, 18-2. Two nights later, they were the winners against a team they had beaten -- but as I always tell Big Kid, a team that also has the motivation to come back and even the score. Final score: Dbacks: 16-7. That win put them playing for the championship against a team they tied in the first game of the season and lost to in a painful Saturday double header, 9-2 -- the game that prompted my earlier post: There's Still No Crying in Baseball.
Friday night, the whole family headed to the ballpark to watch Big Kid's very first championship game. In both of the first two tourney games Big did fine, but they were not his best showing. He made some plays at short but he was not hitting like he wanted to. This season he has rotated between short and pitching and while he is a good pitcher, it is a lot of pressure and when it does not go his way he has a hard time letting it roll off his shoulders. I about squeezed the The Engineer's hand off when I saw him warming up to pitch the championship game.
Photos courtesy of iPhone. I wish I had not accidentally left my good camera at home.
It turned out that I had no reason to worry because the kid was cold as ice on the mound and played one of his best games ever as pitcher, with only two runs scored for his three innings.
My nerves again got the best of me when he bat first on the lineup. I might have closed my eyes on two strikes.
Again the baseball gods were smiling down on him as he walked his first bat, stole a couple of bases and then ran home on a hit (pictured). Second time at bat, on two outs he hit it down the middle to roll to the fence for a double that started a rally, and third at bat, he hit it to the outfield for a single with bases loaded, bringing in an RBI. Although he came close a few times -- the kid's love of stealing bases has taken years off my like -- he was never tagged out.
After moving to short, the relief pitcher threw another excellent inning and the umps called the game, Diamondbacks 16-2.
It was definitely a dream game for these young men. The best part of the tournament was watching every kid on the team shine. Every player contributed, every boy had his moment and that it was a team that had struggled through the season made it all the sweeter. Big Kid floated through the rest of the evening. Two days later, he is still floating.
One of my favorite parts of the award ceremony was when Coach David called over both teams. These kids were the sixth and the eighth seeds and he congratulated the other team for playing hard and making it all the way to the championship. Both teams had a lot of reasons to be proud. That moment is why I love the game. More than learning how to steal a base or throw a pitch, I hope Big Kid takes away that this is how you lose with class and are a gracious winner -- both valuable lessons. Baseball is about strategy, teamwork and as this team showed time and again, never giving up.
Although fierce competitors on the field, at the end of the day they are still ten-year-old boys.
We are so proud of you, son. Not for winning but for how you won.