Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Baseball Blog ::: Pilgrims 3, Westerners 4 [07.30.16]

Photos can be found as a slideshow on the main page and then ultimately the
Baseball sub-site but some of them are dark since it was raining.

What's funny to me about last weekend was that we saw the Danbury Westerners in Groton on Saturday and the New Britain Bees in Bridgeport on Sunday.   Now, this weekend, the last weekend of July, we saw the Bees at home on Friday night and then the Westerners at home on Saturday.    So as strange as it was for me to think that we were seeing the same pitcher for the Bees the night prior, for this game we saw Dylan Stock pitch for the Westerners again.

Prior to the game today we attended a baseball camp from the Family and Children's Aid.   I found the link on the Westerner's website but the Westerners really didn't have as much to do with it as much as that it was at Rogers Park.    There were seven former MLB players there as coaches and they took different groups of kids to different stations.   Quentin was perhaps one of the youngest there as I think only one or two other kids were four, but he had a lot of fun and their coaches were great.    They knew how to interact with the kids in ways I didn't.

The one thing which I do want to say about it though- in regards to if they do it again next year- is simply that the Danbury Westerners players should have somehow been included.   It wouldn't take the whole team, but rather just a handful.   In our group (which was four to six years old, so "6U" as youth baseball likes to say) there were parents helping out in various ways.     For example, when John Doherty was pitching to the children so they could learn to bunt, one of the fathers helped the kids with the positioning of the bat and then also acted as catcher.   Instead of being a transitional role for each group this is something that, say, Jason Agresti could have handled the entire time.

I was also happy that after the camp, at which Quentin already received a shirt, they had the players autograph baseballs for all of the kids.    For all of the baseballs that Quentin has this might be among his favorite (and my favorite) because it is a reminder of this baseball camp and it is signed by all of the former MLB players who taught him various aspects of the game today.    Also, as I am a baseball nerd (Not in the sense of statistics but in the actual sense of collecting baseballs) it was nice to see that this was an official MLB Alumni ball, which I have no idea how to get outside of this so, yes, there is also that little logo on there which made me quite pleased.

In between the baseball camp- which ended around noon- and the Westerners game that night (6:30 scheduled start) we went around places in Danbury without Quentin napping.    As we made our way back to Rogers Park around 4:30/5-ish it began to rain.   It wasn't really down-pouring, but it was a steady rain.   The thing was, it was somehow still muggy out and so standing in the rain which was coming down felt nice.   Quentin and I were throwing the ball around and I had him practice throwing it up as he likes to throw it pretty much straight down right now, and he also reminded me of how his elbow must point based upon what he learned from Dave Fleming.

The Westerners were going back and forth about whether or not to have the game.   The tarp was on the field and more rain plus thunder and lightning were scheduled to come as the night went on.    This was the third to last game of the regular season and the Westerners are in playoff contention so it was tricky to reschedule it but also you don't want a player to slip and get hurt at this point or even more to the point you don't want a pitcher to come in and go three innings to have the game rained out and then that's just kind of a waste of a start.

At some point the Westerners just decided that they'd take the tarp off, shoot for a 7:!5 start time and just go from there.   If the weather got worse and they had to stop, so be it, but they were at least going to try.    And you know what?  As the night went on, the rain let up little by little.    It grew to the point where you had to wonder why there was a rain delay at all.   (Though after getting home that night I checked a lot of other scores and most other Connecticut games seemed to be rained out.)

So, with the Plymouth Pilgrims up 3-0 the Westerners fought back, one run at a time, until we were tied in the bottom of the 9th.    What happened next is a story for the ages.   With the game on the line, the pitcher for the Pilgrims loaded the bases.   (How we got there was also quite fun and suspenseful)  All the Westerners needed was a base hit to score the game winning run.    Ryan Kemp stepped up to the plate and I told Gina, "This is it.  We're walking off right here".   Everything seemed to be going the Westerners way.

Oh.  But I forgot to mention the biggest factor in all of this.   In between innings, as the Westerners take the field, they warm up by throwing the ball back and forth.   Well, a few innings prior to this Ryan Kemp saw Quentin and was talking to me about him and to Quentin himself.   He then gave Quentin the ball he was warming up with.   Now I'm not saying this will work for everyone every time- as it seems to come only at the special moments- but giving Quentin a ball seems to be good luck (just ask Richard Slenker)

Back to the bottom of the ninth.   Bases loaded.   Ryan Kemp gets a base hit and the Westerners win.   The Westerners fought their way back and won a game that around 6 pm or so we didn't even think they were going to play.    And that's what I love about baseball.   You can go from "This game is canceled due to weather" to "We're playing anyway" to "We should have just called this game because we're losing" to "Walkoff single, Westerners win".

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