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Archive for June, 2017

Another Year of Ballet

While I was in Kent for Finn’s playoff flag football game against a bunch of very good teams (we lost early), Reese and Rhonda were in downtown Seattle for the final ballet performance of the year.  I didn’t hear much about it, but Rhonda did manage to capture this mantle-worthy photo:

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A follow-up to Saturday’s entry in re: Finn’s Zeeks Pizza Panthers team winning Northeast Seattle Little League’s Farm Division championship.  The theme of my victory speech yesterday was simple: we won the championship — and never lost a game in two years — because of the players’ willingness to work just that much harder than the next guy.  I did not realize how true that was until today.

To wit:  All year long our achilles heal was base running.  Too many instances of running off the base on fly balls resulted in double plays.  By no means were base running problems unique to us, but it troubled me a great deal.

The extra work Finn and his buddy Carter Ellis did the night before the championship game contributed mightily toward the Panthers’ championship.

On the evening before the game, during Laurelhurst Elementary’s ice cream social, I called a special practice.  Finn and his teammates Mats Bashey and Carter Ellis were the only ones who showed up.  We hit a little — I had to throw ’em a bone — but 90% of our focus was on fly ball base running (run off the base just far enough to get back if it’s caught, etc.)   That practice built on our pre-game practice before our previous playoff win.  We later supplemented it with another ten minutes before the championship game.

In the 5th inning of Saturday’s championship game, Carter was on 2nd base.  Wyatt hit a fly ball and third base coach Rick Frederking mistakenly told him to get flyin’.  Carter led off generously, but didn’t do what his coach said and, consequently, got back to second base as soon as the ball was caught.  As Carter was not doubled up, the inning continued with two outs.  Jack Frederking followed that up with a single that turned into a home run thanks to three errors.  Elias Lara followed that up with the same thing.  A 12-6 lead and thanks to the five-run limit rule, we were champions

Had Carter been doubled up, the Bombers would have batted in the sixth inning down 9-6.  I have no idea what would have happened, but I do know the Bombers really wanted to win.

None of this donned on me until Monday night, when Rick Frederking opined that Carter “bailed (him) out” on the aforementioned play.  I pieced it all together and asked Carter’s dad to ask Carter what gave him the presence of mind to run the bases as he did.  His answer: “I remembered what we had worked on the night before.”

Wow.

By no means was Carter the only one who went the extra yard during the season.  Many guys did it throughout this season and last.  In Saturday’s game, however, it is literally the case that his willingness to go the extra yard — during the ice cream social, no less — played a huge part in our victory.  It may not have won us the game, but it certainly prevented the Bombers from getting another chance to win, and knowing how good that team is, that was almost as good.

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For the last four years I’ve coached a Zeeks Pizza baseball team.  We started in tee ball, first as the Pirates then the Penguins.  In 2016 we graduated to “Farm” (coach pitch), first as the Pilots and this year as the Panthers.

Through all this time we never lost a game.  Sure, we didn’t keep score in tee ball, but in the two seasons we did, we never lost a game.

Pretty good.

We put all that on the line yesterday in the Farm Division final against the Metier Bombers.  Christian Shewey’s Bombers came as the no. 2 seed and, next to us, by far the best team in the league.

We got the job done.

Barely.

Things started out well enough.  We had a 4-0 lead after one inning and a 4-1 lead through two.  But the Bombers rallied for five runs in the third to take a 6-4 lead.  I thought we were in big trouble and I think most of the Panthers did, too.

But we rallied big time.  After the game was interrupted for a “4th inning stretch” featuring Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” we rallied for five in the fourth to take a 9-6 lead.   Thanks to some base running blunders on the Bombers’ part we shut them down in the top of the fifth, which meant that three runs — and a 12-6 lead — would seal the deal.  (A five-run limit per inning would make a six-run lead insurmountable in the last inning.)

Three runs is exactly what we got.

What made the victory so sweet was that everyone, from the top of the order to the bottom, contributed.  As for Finn, he went 1-for-3 batting at the top of the order.  He scored a run with a nice slide at home plate and made two nice plays at third base, one on a towering pop up and another with a bullet throw to throw the runner out at first.

All in all, a fantastic finish to an incredible run of little league baseball.

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