Our first game on Friday was against a team from Albuquerque, NM. In chatting with a parent from their team I heard that they were 0-3 on the week so far and felt like they were not playing well. They came out strong in the first and pushed a run across. In our half of the first we got four hits. It was great to see the hitting carry over from yesterday. Sadly, between baserunning blunders and other frustrations, 4 hits and 7 batters produced only one run. Rabbit was due to lead off the second, batting eighth.
First pitch he saw was a ball, barely high. I would have called a strike, but it was not my decision. The next pitch was a strike. Rabbit was given the sign "Dead Red" meaning swing hard through the zone, regardless of location. The pitch was very low, and he missed the ball by a mile. Two next pitches were balls and he was 3-1. Dead Red again, and it was. Fastball, belt high, inner half. Gone. It jumped off the bat. First thing I saw was the CF number, then the fence, then the base ump circling his fingers. Over the fence for a home run! His first time ever hitting out of a park. The ball hit a light pole in the RF power alley and bounced back in. The other team threw it in, but by then he was already making his way around the bases to be mobbed at the plate. Simply amazing. What a way to break out of a slump!
The plate ump gave him the ball and I cannot recall ever seeing him smile like that. I was jumping around like an idiot, disbelieving what I just saw. I called his mom, grandparents, Blue Wave friends, everyone I could think of. It was stunning.
Next time up, brimming with confidence, he ripped a double down the RF line, fair by 3 feet. He was seeing the ball great today, and had 6 bases in 2 AB to prove it. Third time up he had a 2 RBI single. That was in the last inning, and with one out we figured he was done for the game. 3 hits, 3RBI, 2 runs, amazing. However, the team batted around that inning, and he stepped up needing a triple for the cycle. Bases loaded, major Hollywood drama time. Rather than a cycle he had to merely settle for another 2 run single. His line for the game went 4 3 4 5. An unreal accomplishment. The game ended with a comfortable win for Mizuno.
For game 2 the coach reversed the order, 9 hitter leading off, 8 hitting second, etc. Rabbit, previously hitting 8th, was the second batter. As he walked up to the plate the opposing catcher calls out "power hitter, move back!" Hilarious. He stung a ball to first that almost snuck through, but a good play got him out. Second AB was a pop up to right center field. He had just missed it. The game was moving along, and the boys were not that interested it seemed. Rabbit had started, and was very mediocre. He looked like he had not pitched in months. He was aiming the ball and nibbling, not throwing like the power pitcher he needs to be.
We were down 5 or 6 late in the game when Rabbit got his final AB. With runners on second and third he stroked one down the RF line. The 1B had him played perfectly, back on the grass and shaded to the line. It still nearly took his glove off. The bat was working, it had been a very good day.
We went back to the hotel for swimming pools and pizza parties. We would have to wait until almost 11pm to find out our seeding and opponent for the next day. Regardless, the boys had played well, occasionally great, had hit well all day, and were ready for all comers.