“I Don’t Believe What I Just Saw”

The Ramblers like to refer to ourselves as a scrappy team. We take big leads on the bases, we like to run from first to third base on a single, and we like to throw the ball to catch runners off-guard. It often results in pretty spectacular plays, but sometimes it costs us.

On Wednesday, we played the Creeperz in the QLSA Master Division best-of-three, semi-finals series. Since we were the lower seed, the Creeperz elected to play at Highland Park in Cypress Hills, Queens. We would play two games on Wednesday and, if necessary, a third game in Long Island City on Thursday.

Our aggressive scrappiness cost us in the first game. We gave away four outs on the base paths, and we threw the ball around that allowed runners to advance. We lost the game, 5–4.

I pitched the second game, and we quickly trailed, 4–1. In the fifth, we tied the game at 5. The score held in to the sixth and seventh. With the international tie breaker rule in effect, the Clippers scored two runs in the eighth. We needed to score two runs to stay alive and three to win.

With two outs and runners on first and third, our catcher Collin hit a gentle popup to the shortstop. Convinced that this would be the final out of the series, the shortstop tried to aggressively snatch the ball out of the air and ultimately dropped the ball. The tying run scored from third and put the winning run on second base. Our third baseman DJ hit a clean live drive in the “5.5 hole” and Dan scored from second to win the game and tie the series at two games.

We were still alive and would play the third and deciding game on Thursday.

I played first base on Thursday, after riding to Cold Spring earlier that day, and chatted with the umpire there. I asked if he had heard what happened on Wednesday and he informs me that the “whole fuckin’ league heard what happened.” After discussing the improbability of our winning a game like that, he tells me that “whenever a team loses a game like that, they never recover.” Ouch!

The Creeperz had not recovered. On Wednesday night, we said that if we came out swinging and scored a couple of run in the first inning, they would be out of it. In fact, we scored four runs in the first, taking advantage of the opposing pitcher’s trouble throwing strikes. We would have scored more but two very unconventional calls robbed of us at least four runs in subsequent innings. The Creeperz eventually tied game at 4, but we shut them down the rest of the game. We scored another five unanswered runs to take a 9–4 lead. By the sixth inning and with the game going our way, one of the Creeperz said, “This game was over before it had started.” The Creeperz were still demoralized from Wednesday loss and had essentially quit. The last out of the game came on a popup to second base. When the ball was in the air, we all yelled at our second baseman to use “two hands, two hands, two hands.” We won the game, 9–4, and clinched the semi-final series.

We sympathized with the shortstop. He was a very good player but made one critical mistake in a crucial situation. We gave him a friendly handshake because no one feels worse about losing the series than he.

With the series win, we face Los Muertos in the Master Division Championship series on Tuesday, August 20, 7:00 PM, at Whitey Ford Field in Astoria. Again, all are welcome.

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