A Special Outing

Thus far, all of my baseball writing at this site has been about play at the major league level. That’s not surprising. That’s the kind of baseball that has the most universal appeal.

But most of my baseball watching is not of MLB. In fact, it’s been 10 years since that was true. When I sit back to watch a ballgame, chances are my youngest son is in one of the dugouts.

Of my three children, the youngest is the only one who dove headlong into baseball (which is why, as I’ve informed the older two, he is my favorite). My oldest son Ian played a few seasons of little league a dozen or so years ago, but never with much zest for the game. Kiera, my daughter, gave softball a couple of spins when she was very young, but abandoned the sport when she rediscovered soccer in second grade.

But Cormac has been a baseball guy from the outset. He played his first season at Age 6, which also happened to be the year he started pitching. In addition to his other duties, he’s been a pitcher ever since.

That made last night pretty special. Cormac, now a sophomore at Michigan City Marquette in Northwest Indiana, was making his first start on the bump. It was coming a few days after recording his first save, though I missed that one due to my visit to South Florida (in fact, I was at the Marlins game referenced earlier in the week while he was wrapping up a 10-9 victory – defying the first two paragraphs).

Back to last night’s game. He was starting against South Central, a fellow small high school from the southern half of La Porte County. But they were no pushovers. The Satellites roster featured two Division 1 recruits, one of whom touched him for a wind-aided homer in a three-run first inning.

After that, he settled down quite nicely. He worked around his only two walks in the second (to those two D-1 bound players), then went 3-up, 3-down in both the third and fourth innings. I kept waiting for the coach to give him the hook, since he had never gone more than three innings in a high school game, but he kept getting guys out.

He allowed two more runs in the fifth (again, led by the studs, including the latter’s triple to center that neither needed nor got any aid from the elements), then opened the home half of the sixth by inducing back-to-back infield grounders, but both resulted in errors (in an otherwise solid  night from the defense). The coach finally pulled him after 82 pitches.

The final tally: 5+ innings, 4 ER, 2 walks and 3 Ks. And, his first varsity loss. But after the difficult first (where he helped mitigate the damage when he fielded a comebacker and caught the lead runner off third), he did a wonderful job keeping a good-hitting lineup off balance, changing speeds, moving the ball around the zone and even dropping his arm slot a few times to give the batters a different look. When he got ahead of guys, he continued to work, not giving them too much of the plate and forcing them to swing at pitchers’ pitches, defying a problem he’s had in the past. It was, without question, the smartest game he’s ever pitched. I couldn’t have been prouder of his effort. And his mom was even up for it, which made it even more meaningful.

Now, I’d be watching his games regardless the stats or circumstances. Quite honestly, there is nothing I find more enjoyable in life than watching the kids engage in the things they love.

But there were two other things that made this outing even more special for me. He caught an infield pop-up, and he averaged about one pitch every 12 seconds*. Take that MLB.

 

*I finally remembered to record his final frame on my phone. So I have the numbers to back me up.

 

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