Well, the weekend didn’t go quite as planned from the start. On Friday night while still at work, I received word that the double-header scheduled for Saturday at Central Connecticut State University vs. Team Connecticut was cancelled for reason of field conditions. It seems that the University closed the fields in advance during the rain which cleared out later Friday night which was out of the control of Team Connecticut. Too bad perhaps, but understandable.
Here’s the rub: North East Baseball then graciously extended an invitation for Team Connecticut to play at Pirone Park instead, which was declined. In my book, that should be regarded as a straight-up forfeit, simply because the host team had an option to play elsewhere and chose not to. Excuse me, but all the players on both teams were already expecting to be on the field during that timeframe (which would not have changed). To me, whether the field happens to be in Connecticut or Massachusetts is irrelevant. The opportunity to play remained available and was deliberately passed up by Team Connecticut. Without knowing anything else about that organization, I can confidently say that whatever else Team Connecticut may be, they are absolutely NOT Dirt Dogs: All Bag, No Game. Nuf Ced! However, the day wasn’t a total loss for Matt and Troy, who joined the 12U Littleton A’s for their first practice of the season instead.
On Sunday, the 12U NEB Dirt Dogs played the Granite State Marauders and took both games in the series with scores of 13-3 and 14-12, giving them a winning 4-0 Division record at this point in the season (5-2 overall), which for now puts North East Baseball at the top of the NEAAU 12U Divisional standings. The first game opened with Mike P. on the mound, who threw 3 scoreless innings while striking out 3 and giving up one hit. The defense was anchored by Aaron behind the plate and Matt at First. Rohit relieved and pitched the last 3 innings, giving up 3 runs but earning the save while Mike got the win. Offensively the Dirt Dogs scored early & often. Heavy-hitting was done by Aaron with 3 doubles, a triple by Rohit and a double & single by Jonathan. Singles were also clubbed by Mike, Matt, Nick and Brad. Key pinch-running by Troy scored 2 of the runs and virtually the entire order scored at least once.
The second game opened with Matt on the mound, striking out 7 and allowing only one hit. A costly dropped third strike at the plate allowed one of the K’s to still get on base and score an unearned run on Matt. At the end of the 3rd inning when Matt walked off the mound, the score was 10-1 Dirt Dogs. In the top of the 4th the Dogs scored twice more before their defense completely collapsed, giving up an 11-run lead in the 4th and 5th innings. I will leave alot unsaid about how such a big lead unraveled, except to say that the following key principles of playing competitive baseball were clearly proved once again:
- Good pitching absolutely DOES beat good hitting.
- If you ain’t got the pitching, St. Christopher ain’t got the time.
- Good catching makes for good pitching; a catcher with issues will erode the confidence of a good pitcher faster than anything else.
- 2nd Basemen and Shortstops should stop the kabuki dancing back & forth to the bag and instead cover the gap: You’re NOT fooling the runner who is watching the ball and the pitcher rather than your fancy footwork, but you ARE leaving yourself open for costly fielding errors.
The Dirt Dogs were able to pull their bacon out of the fire in the 6th inning to break a 12-12 tie with key insurance hitting by Scott, Nick and Mike D. who all hit singles, scoring Scott and Nick. Matt hit a 2-run homer in the 1st inning to back up his efforts on the mound, Aaron, Mike P. and Troy all clubbed doubles, and Brad, Mitch and Jonathan also hit singles. In the 1st Inning, the Dirt Dogs actually hit the cycle against the Marauder’s pitcher, with Aaron’s lead-off double followed by Matt’s moonshot and then Jonathan and Scott ganged up with a single and triple respectively. Nick added insult to injury with a final RBI single to run up the score at 4-0 before the 1st Inning batting clinic was over. Absolutely must have sucked the soul right out of the pitcher. Too bad the Dogs gave it all back and then some, but fortunately Matt still earned his third pitched win of the season along with the first home run of the season, and Scott took the save.
Stay tuned for next weekend’s pair of double-headers at Pirone Park…