After going 2-0 on day one we knew we were the 1 seed going into ladder play. Our opponent for the first game was a team we had beaten the day before by a 7-3 score. We got off to an OK start, trailing 1-0 after their half of the first. Run scored on a balk, the first of many questionable balk calls that day. Our boys never gave it a thought. We scored early, and often. The entire team was making good contact and we were scoring runs with ease. In the field we bent, but did not break. Twice the pitchers got out of bases loaded jams without giving up so much as one run. In the bottom of the fourth we scored the decisive runs to win easily 11-1. We were in the championship! Undefeated and playing well. All the parents were stunned, happy and ready for more. The boys were stern, focused and itching to keep going. It was fun to watch.
Rabbit was given the start in the championship. He had been a rock recently, showing top of rotation stuff. Not today though. He was fair, but a little wild. In fact he walked more batters in two innings, 4, than he had in his previous three outings combined. He came out after two innings allowing 3 runs, but tied. His 45 pitches matched his total from a 5 inning game just a few months ago. Today was not his day, but he battled and gave what he had. We scraped a few more runs across and were ahead 6-3 after 3. Then the big bats came calling. The middle of the line up was tremendous, with 3 homers and several extra base hits. One boy hit a ball at least 270' to punctuate a late rally. Headed into the last inning we were ahead 10-5. The first out was made on an incredible diving grab at shortstop. Then Rabbit made an incredible effort at a ball, diving headfirst for a foul that bounced off the heel of his glove. The entire team was focused like I have never seen. The final out was made on a soft liner to second. Blue Wave had won! For the first time they had gone 4-0 in a tournament.
Rabbit was not the star this weekend. In fact, he was merely a passenger aboard the S.S. Blue Wave this weekend. He played tremendous defense at first, and although he was not as effective on the hill he still kept it close. His batting is miserable right now, three times this weekend he watched strike 3 go by on an 0-2 count. But none of that mattered. What mattered was the team picked each other up. Every player contributed, and every player gave what they could. This team should carry this confidence and focus forward. They can be very, very good.
So how do you celebrate a clean sweep in a tournament? With 5 buckets of soft-toss in the batting cage. No rest for the weary, there is always something to improve.