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One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Season 2, Vol. 4) “Finally!”

by Paul Semendinger

***

The good news is that we finally got our first game in.

The bad news is that we lost.

But, we played well…

And the pitcher, the old guy, the 52-year-old starter, in his second season…he did okay as well.

***

On Sunday, July 19, our team gathered as a unit for the first time in 2020 on a hot (very hot) Sunday Morning (that only got hotter as the game went on) in Ridgewood, New Jersey. After playing most of the 2019 season on ball fields scattered across Northern New Jersey, we opened this year’s season at home.

The visitors were the Paterson Hurricanes – a tough team. (But, truth be told, every team we play is a tough team. We were winless last year.)

Paterson scored one run in the first inning. And then one run in the second inning. In the third inning, they scored five runs because we gave them no fewer than six or seven outs before we actually recorded the three we needed to come off the field. I believe each infielder that inning made at least one error. WE call that shaking the rust off.

After that, Paterson didn’t score in the fourth. They got two runs in the 5th and then none in the sixth to close out my start.

Overall, I walked one batter, hit one batter (but to be fair, it was on a three ball count and I threw it so slowly that he let it plunk him), and (disappointingly) recorded no strikeouts. I did pick a runner off first which was fun. Unofficially, there were three balls hit off me that we loud hits. The others were just dunkers, bleeders, and such. Still, they’re all line drives in the box score.

A couple of the other guys also want to pitch, so we figured six innings would be good from me so they could get some innings in as well.

In the end, we lost 14-6, but take away that one real bad inning and it was a 9-6 game. We battled. For our first game together, it was all good.

We don’t really care about winning (although a win would be nice). It’s just great to play ball.

***

I have to say, even though Ethan and I have been throwing a few times a week, playing simulated games, and I’ve been pitching a mound for weeks, it did feel different actually pitching in a game.

I threw a lot of strikes, stayed around the plate, and such, but I didn’t throw as hard as I would have liked to. My pitches lacked any real “zip.” (Maybe that was good because I can’t throw hard and when I try to, balls usually fly out of the park.) In short, I wasn’t as comfortable as I wish I had been, but that’ll also come with time and more games.

***

I was hoping to get a photo of me pitching, but my photographer, Ethan, played the entire game in the field so he never had a chance to capture the moment on film for me. There’s always the next game…

Ethan played second base, third base, and then caught the final innings. In the fifth inning, Ethan made a tremendous play in the field rushing from the second base position into shallow center field behind the second base bag, on the shortstop side, to catch a sinking popup for an out. It was the play of the game.

Batting, he had two hits, two walks, and struck out once (called strike three). Ethan scored two runs including our first run of the year.

I was pleased that I captured some good shots of Ethan. If given the choice, I’d rather have pictures of him anyway. (Once I was out of the game, I could take photos.)



***

This week Ethan received notice, just two weeks before he was to return to his senior year at Lafayette College that his school is going all remote for the entire fall semester. He was crushed. So many of the kids are. A student has but one senior year at college (hopefully, at least) and for these kids, like so many across the country, this upcoming school year, like last, will be handled much differently than in the past.

It will be great having Ethan at home – we are cherishing the times he has with us, but we also know that a college student wants to be at college. The good news that comes out of this is that Ethan will able to play the full season of baseball with us. Since he’s now home, he’ll be playing ball.

We play again on Sunday, July 26. We’re home again – this time against Bloomfield. I believe Bloomfield was the league champs last year. We lost to them twice last year…

This week I’m managing the team as well as serving as the staring pitcher. I think I’ll have Ethan start behind the plate so we can be the battery. Since Laurie plans to come to the game, she can take lots of pictures of both of us.

Let’s go Ridgewood!

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