The boys faced off against the Brighton Braves last night in an instant Yawkey League classic. We showed up at English High School in Boston ready to roll with Breslin leading the way on the bump. The pink sky dimmed to a purple and all the guys in the field yelled out to each other before the first pitch. We had a certain energy to us that felt special. We were ready to compete.
I love playing center field for many reasons, but up there on the list is having a great view of the pitcher’s stuff. I can see the strike zone perfectly, and last night I could tell out the gate that Breslin was going to be just fine. The baseball exploded out of his hand, and the pop it made in Cam Plank’s glove reminded me of the fireworks I heard on the Fourth.
For whatever reason, the baseball gods have something against Brezzy in the first inning. He said to me before the game “I’m good for one first-inning bomb every start, so be ready.” Well, last night was a little different. He pitched with confidence, and we got out of the first inning with a smooth double play and no runs given up. Miggy Gonzales got us rolling on offense after smoking a ball into the right-center gap. He legged out possibly the slowest triple I’ve ever seen, but hey, a triple is a triple. He scored after Cam Plank hit a double and things looked good for ATBC.
Remember what I said about Breslin and the baseball gods in the first inning? This time around they messed with him in the second and third inning. After some dinky hits, sloppy defense, and questionable calls, the Braves scored three runs and took a 3-1 lead. The energy I felt before the game was stifled. Guys were quiet and we were looking for any reason to get hype again.
We scored in the bottom of the third after I hit a fly ball that was misplayed by the Braves’ center fielder. After the gaff, I stole third and advanced to the plate after an errant throw by the catcher and it was a 3-2 game. We had some life, but we weren’t out of the woods yet. The top of the fifth rolled around and the Braves put our desire to win to the test. They strung together a two-out rally that started with some small ball. A single, a walk, and a fielding error scored one run, and Peter German came up with two guys on and roped a triple into left field that made it a 6-2 ballgame. He would then score on a wild pitch to make it 7-2. Things were looking bleak, but we didn’t lose grasp on that competitive edge we all share. That flame was burning low, but it wasn’t out.
The bottom of the fifth was a crucial inning. It had a wacky start with Jacob Perez leading off. He circled the bases with his blazing speed on a single after the Braves were careless with the baseball. I came up with a simple, up-the-middle approach and leaned into one that carried over the short porch in right field for a homer. Just like that, we got two runs back and the flame burned a little brighter.
The Braves did nothing in the sixth against Lorenzo Bartolini, who made his Al Thomas debut and shoved. Suddenly it was our turn to hit, and with two outs Jacob Perez came up again. He came up big with a double, and I got the chance I was itching for. I wanted to do some damage. The Braves decided to stick with their starter and this was my fourth at bat against him. I felt pretty comfortable, and expected to see a first pitch fastball. That’s what I got. I swung and laced a ball into the right-center gap that rolled long enough for me to circle the bases for my second homer of the game and it was 7-6. We had all the momentum, and Lorenzo came out in the seventh and shut down any potential rallies. Our fate was in our own hands in the bottom of the seventh.
The heart of our lineup came up with Captain and All-Star Jake Beane leading off. He smacked a single to bring up our other Captain and All-Star Cam Plank, who hit a moonshot into the Boston night that rolled to the wall. Beanie scored with ease, and Planky rumbled around the bases with surprising speed, smelling a walk-off inside-the-park home run. Newly acquired Jon Chapman was coaching third base and smartly held him up at third with veteran Brett Julian coming up. The silver fox smoked a grounder past the infield, and that was that. We took home the W 8-7 to improve to 17-1-1. I spoke with the hero Brett Julian after the game and this is what he had to say.