A coach once told me that if a doctor ever tells you that you have only 3 hours left to live you should go to a mosquito (little league) baseball game. It’ll be the longest three hours of your life.
We were losing the whole game. We were always close, but always losing. After the 5th inning we were down 16-15. The 6th inning would be our last chance. The sun was on the horizon and once it dipped below it would get dark fast. I knew there was a chance we wouldn’t be able to finish. You can imagine my dismay when I saw their pitcher warming up. He was throwing with heat. Gordon Ramsey in Hell’s Kitchen kind of heat. Fastballs that I feared my mosquitoes wouldn’t be able to hit and we would be 3 up, 3 down and game over.
You can imagine my surprise when he loaded the bases with walks.
You can imagine my surprise again when we had suddenly scored 5 runs and found ourselves up by 4. I was watching the darkness creep up on us and knew we had to get the 6th inning over if were to win. You see, if a game is called on account of darkness the score reverts back to last inning that was finished. We were losing in that inning. We had 1 out against us and I quietly told my next batter to strike out so we could get this inning over. Unfortunately, she was hit. A bean ball that scored us a 6th run and put us up by 5. I told my next batter the same thing. He struck out, though not on purpose.
2 outs and the sun was below the horizon now. We were playing on borrowed time. Twilight time. We had to end the inning pronto. I quietly approached my next batter and explained it to him.
Me: This is going to make no sense right now, but in order for us to win this game I need you to strike out.
Batter: So you want me to swing at everything?
And he did too. One pitch sailed over his head. He swung, not even attempting to hit the ball. Our coach down at 1st base hollered to him to not swing at pitches over his head. I laughed because coach wasn’t in on our plan. He swung and missed the second pitch, too. He swung at the 3 pitch and connected solid with it. The ball sails like a runaway kite in hurricane out into right field. The batter stands on home plate simply watching it as if he were watching a ball game instead of participating in it.
The first base coach is yelling, “RUN! YOU HIT THE BALL! RUN!”
The batter is standing on homeplate pointing toward me at third and hollering back, “HE TOLD ME NOT TO!”
The right fielder throws the ball to first and the batter is called out. 3 outs. Change sides.
Bottom of the 6th now, we’re up by 5. I’ve got a pitcher throwing who usually throws zero run innings. It’s nearing 8:30 and it would be hard for me to argue to keep playing should the other team decide it’s too dark. I’m no lawyer. I probably couldn’t argue my way out of a wet paper bag. The other team does score one run. But we also make three outs to end the game with a win.
We won because of an almost strike out, because a hitter slugged the ball but stood still, and because a team made it happen when it counted most.