The final day of games began with me ruing the decision to participate in this camp at all. I woke this morning lacking energy or motivation to go through with another double-header, and the only thing that didn't hurt on me was my left arm, which I really don't use. We got to the park and immediately hit the hot tub to loosen up, and the day started to get a little bit better.
Our morning games start about 10 AM, and typically the weather has been a little bit chilly every morning - say 55 degrees or so - so it's important to get stretched out as much as possible. I really only have two places that I've hurt - my ankle, which is purple and my groin which was slightly strained - but I ache all over. So, I spent part of the morning before the game in the trainer's room with 10-15 of my closest friends getting taped up around my ankle. Then I spent the remaining time stretching my legs in every direction possible. By about 10:15, I actually felt reasonably comfortable. I couldn't run, but it didn't hurt to just stand there.
We were the 6th seed in the playoffs, or the 2nd seed in the consolation bracket, so we got to be the home team in our first game. We took on Tom Browning and Kent Mercker's team, who we had beat yesterday 2-0 as our pitcher threw a 1-hitter and hit a triple to spark our 2-run rally in the 7th. We started our other big gun in today's game, and he was nearly unhittable for 4 innings as we built up a 3-run lead, but he pulled himself out early because frankly the games just don't mean that much. Yesterday's star pitcher came in and was much more hittable and the other team managed to score 6 runs off of him in the final 3 innings. As has been the case with our team, we never were able to get another rally going and once we got down, we were done. The loss meant we would play for 7th place in the afternoon.
As for me, I made a tweak to my batting stance, spreading out my legs a little bit more and it made all of the difference in the world. I hit a hard ground ball to short in my first AB, but there was a runner on base and a force out was made to end the inning. In my second AB, I hit a flyball to left center (see video after the jump) and probably could have gotten a double out of it, but my legs hurt and it forced me to run like a cripple (see video after the jump). My third AB was a line drive up the middle that I got a single on. After waiting the whole week to get a hit out of the infield, I got 2 in consecutive at bats. It felt good.
My batting stance is still a little awkward, but it got me a couple of hits this morning:
Compare my stance to my brother's. I'm convinced athleticism is not genetic...
In the afternoon game, I expected to start the game on the mound, but we switched things up just before game time and I started out in left field. I did come out to pitch at the start of the 2nd inning to protect my team's 3-run lead. (NOTE: We had decided that since the game didn't really matter, we'd only play 3 innings unless there was a tie). I felt good loosening up on the mound. I'm nothing special, but I kept the ball around the plate, which is all you need to do at RFC. However, I had never pitched to an actual batter before in my life. Ever.
So, I was very happy that my first pitch was over the plate, until the hitter swung and made solid contact, shooting a liner back up the middle on a straight line for my crotch. Somehow, and believe me I have no idea how this happened, I was able to not only get my glove in the way of the ball, but I was able to catch the ball, saving my family jewels from impending doom. And just like that, one pitch, one very dangerous out. As Lee May said after the game, thankfully I caught that ball or they'd be picking my nuts up in center field.
The next two batters popped up to the catcher and weakly grounded out back to me. Three batters, three outs. This pitching stuff is easy.
The next inning started out much the same way. The first batter grounded out the 1B. The second batter grounded out to second base. Then things got dicey. Actually, I should say that's right when the top of their order came to the plate and suddenly I wasn't throwing weak stuff to weak hitters anymore. Three straight singles later, I was struggling and my shoulder was starting to burn. The next hitter lined the ball into left center, scoring all three runners as the batter ended up at third base. Well, there goes that lead.
My pitching style is unconventional, but it sort of got the job done:
I did manage to get the third out in the inning, a pop out to shortstop, I believe. But after 3 innings the game was tied. We decided to keep playing, and though my team was unable to plate any runs in the 4th, I did manage to get beaned in the buttocks, upping my on base percentage to .417 (6 hits, 3 BB, 1 HBP in 24 plate apperances). Unfortunately, that number isn't really all that impressive (our leading hitter batted .650), but I'm still happy with it.
I didn't pitch in the 4th inning and we went on to lose the game on an inside the park walk-off home run - the key at this point in the week was to hit it past the outfielder who could no longer run.
Alas, a week that started with such promise ended with us as the 8th place team. Oh well, we had fun.
Tomorrow, every team gets to play 3 innings against the pros. Since we were the last place team, we're the last team that gets to play against the former players, which may be a blessing since they will have already played 21 innings at that point. Apparently the pros take it very serious. They'll give you one pitch down the middle, but if you don't hit it, forget about it, they're going to destroy you. I'm actually looking forward to it.
Hopefully I'll have a recap for you after the game. Who knows, I might even get a chance to pitch to them. That could be ugly.