Monday, May 7, 2012

The First Road Trip for AAU Baseball is the Toughest

The first road trip is always the hardest.

Make sure the uniform is packed (and hopefully clean).  Check.  The games, iTouchs and bathing suits have to be packed, too. Check.  Make sure all of his friends on the team are going?  Check.  Call the hotel to make sure the pool is still open? Check.  We are about as well-prepared for a weekend away as we can get.

You see, this past weekend was C's first road trip for his AAU baseball team.  Traveling three hours all the way to North Branford, Connecticut for the Triple Crown Sports tournament?  We had to travel to other towns for football and basketball, but never out of state.  We would be playing the Connecticut Technique Tigers, the Connecticut Capitols and a team from Rhode Island.  We were hopeful that we would get a win out of this weekend as the season has been a little rough.   Hopes were high.

Friday.  The boys were excited when I picked them up from school to start our journey to Southern Connecticut.   Five granola bars later, and with food coma setting in, we arrived at the Holiday Inn.  Or as G liked to call it, home with the pool.  I though the constant fighting would never end, and tonight I was right.  The rest of team started filtering in around the same time.  I think this is when I first heard the words "Manhunt" and "Beast."  The Dads start to gather around to drink some beer.  I suspect I' not the only one who had a long drive from Massachusetts.

Saturday.  The day started with the rooster crowing - alright it was my phone's alarm app - and it set up the day just like the Natural.  The boys were less enthusiastic as the number 6 at the beginning of any time is met with general nastiness and obstinense.  The sour moods though were immediately picked up by the donuts that were meeting them before the game.  Nothing a little sugar and chocolate couldn't overcome.

The Connecticut Sportsplex is an interesting place.  Any place that has a drive leading up a hill with a gate across it is always foreboding.  Where did the dirt road go after our turn?  Some sort of 1950's silo underground bunker, probably.  Aren't all these sportsplexes in weird hilltop locations like this?  I live near one too.  Less interesting was the $3 admission and the no beverages or food policy.

C started the first game of the doubleheader.  I knew it was going to be a long day when he struck out the first batter, but the batter reached third base after a dropped third strike and an error throwing it to First Base.  We don't even play by those rules!  Yeah, this was going to be a long day.  C gave up 1 earned run and struck out seven in three innings.  I won't remind him how many unearned runs...  Game 2 unfortunately ended the same way.  0-2 for the day, but the kids were still upbeat.  I think they had their eyes set on the hotel pool.

But first we had to get some of the best pizza in the world.  New Haven is known for a lot of things - Toad's Place, Yale etc.  But it is also home to two of the best Pizza places int eh world.  Sally's Apizza and Frank Pepe's.  Sally's was closed for lunch.  But Frank Pepe's was open.  After we devoured a large pizza I heard:

"Dad, that was the best pizza I ever had"  G told me that as he lied down after eating.  I think he unbuckled his pants after saying that too.

"Dad, that pizza was Beast!"  I'm not sure what that meant, but I think that C liked it too.

The day ended with A LOT of pool time and a game that the team played called Manhunt.  G described it to me and it sounded like Hide and Go Seek with a cooler name.  But what do I know?

Sunday.  The rooster crowed (Is it crowed?  Cock-a-doodle-doo-ed?) even earlier this morning.  Again, coffee for me and donuts for the boys.  Maybe I should have changed up our luck as we headed to the Sportsplex for our third game.  We were playing the Rhode Island team, and we again were feeling good.  I sensed that the kids all wanted a forfeit so they could go back to the hotel and get some sleep (or go to the pool).  The game started off well as we took a 3-1 lead into the fifth inning.  Unfortunately, we lost the lead and had to go into extra innings tied at 4-4.  Because we had to give up the field at 10am, we played "California Rules" in extra innings.  In other words each team started with a player at Second Base.  Really?  We unfortunately lost that game in 7 innings 5-4.  It was an exciting game and we gave them an ovation as they came off the field.  They played hard.

So we ended up the road trip 0-3.  The kids really seemed to bond; they are a great group of kids.  And they deserve a good ending to the season.  But we are going to be looking for a couple of wins next weekend.  I feel good about those games, too.  No pool where we're going next weekend though.  And definitely a little closer to home.

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