Happy Birthday to Me! I wake up at 6:45 to drive back to the Inland Empire. Never let it be questioned the amount of love I feel for my son. We were playing in the 9am game and then a semi-final at either 11am or 1pm. If we won the semi-final the championship game would be at 3pm. That is right, 3 games in one day. Yikes!
Rabbit was the starting pitcher for the first game. He was excited and nervous. He threw well, but some missed opportunities and errors limited him to 1/3 of an inning. If the team had made all of the "routine" plays he would have made 4 outs during the same span of hitters. Oh well, the coaches needed to find outs so Rabbit was sent back to RF. Rather than mope Rabbit decided to hit. In the first at-bat he was walked on 4 pitches. The second time up, now with runners on the corners, he missed a "take" sign and blasted a double into center field. Both runs scored and by the end of the game it ended at 11-11. We were now 1-1-1 in the tourney.
It turned out that we played the same team from the morning again in the semi-final. This was a great game and the lead changed hands 3 times. It was not until the last inning that we, well, the 9 year old boys, built a lead that would last. Rabbit walked, again, and grounded out twice. But he did advance runners both times he was up. He played a good RF again and was thrilled when it ended at 9-6 Blue Wave, meaning they had earned a berth in the Championship Game!
In between games (we had all of 15 minutes) we did whatever we could to cool him down and get water and gatorade into him. I am pretty sure it was hotter on the second day, were that even possible. The final was to be played against the team that had beat us the day before. Our coaches were happy that we had made the final and were impressed that this team of 10 boys, 3 of whom had not played in a game with them before, had come together so quickly. Rabbit sat (finally) for the first inning. Unfortunately, we went a quiet 1-2-3 while the opponents put up a 6 run cushion on some timely hitting. Our boys were tired and got shocked by that inning. The second inning we still could not muster any offense, but the defense was much better. Please note, I am biased, but when Rabbit was off the field they scored, when he was on the field, they didn't. Enough said. :)
In the bottom of the third he was playing 1B. And he had a great inning. His first opportunity came and he made a great stretch to get the runner on a bang-bang play. After a walk and steal there was a runner on second when a ground ball was hit to the SS. SS made a great throw to get the runner and Rabbit came up gunning to the Catcher to get the runner trying to come home. Just a nice, easy 6-3-2 double play. Even the umpire came over to congratulate him on a great throw.
Defensively he played great, recording two more putouts and just missing another 6-3-2 double play opportunity. His last at bat was another grounder, to the right side, to move the runner along. While not flashy, he played a solid game that really made him feel like he belongs playing with this type of a team. Alas, it ended 9-1 with California Legends winning the title and Blue Wave as runner up.
After the game there was an awards ceremony on the field. Each Blue Wave player received a T-shirt designating them as a finalist at the tournament. Last night Rabbit slept in his. I expect he will every night for a month. He told his mom as we were packing up that he "could have died" he had so much fun out there. It was an amazing thing to watch him, and his teammates, grow up in two days like that. It was the best present I could have ever received.
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