Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 New England AAU Championships - The Lost Weekend

Free baseball!  I guess I wouldn't call it free baseball since I pay through the nose for this stuff, but it was free in that both boys received at least 4 more games of baseball without me having to pay for it.  In our neck of the woods, playing AAU baseball meant playing some division games, some out of division games, and then if you are good enough at the end, playing in the New England Regionals. 

We were lucky because both of their teams made the playoffs.  Neither of the boys' teams last year made the playoffs, so it was exciting to see that BOTH of them made it this year.  The format was round robin with 4 teams in each pool.  The best four teams would then go on tot eh Championships the following weekend.  Although we could never afford going tot he US championships, it was fun to talk about Kansas as the next stop if either team won the New Englands.

Welcome to Connecticut!
U10 Team's Path.  I watched the first game at Little Fenway in Freetown, MA on Saturday afternoon.  We played the Lakeville Cardinals earlier in the season here and it was fun to see all of the same angles and the Green Monster.  Although we did not play at the Little Fenway park for the first game that I saw, it was still interesting to walk around the complex.  I Game 1, we played one of the tougher teams, the Northeast Gators.  We split with them in the first doubleheader earlier in the season so despite being the #1 seed, we thought we could take them.  Our ace was out of gas, though, almost immediately and gave up 8 runs in three innings.  G pitched and gave up one run and didn't do anything at the plate, himself.  Sunday was a different matter though, while Mom was with him, the boys won their second game on a walk off Grand Slam in extra innings.  G hit TWO home runs that game to keep it close.  Game 3 was won in a walk over.  It appeared that we were going to be a wild card entry.

U12 Team's Path.  Mom took C on his doubleheader on Saturday to Mansfield, MA.  Only a couple of miles away from the local Buffalo Wild Wings.  They split their doubleheader so they had to win to move on.  C pitched in Game 2 and while garnering the win, had to struggle to get there.  I took C to his final make-or-break game on Sunday.  It was against the Mass Hurricanes, the team that swept C's team in the regular season.  In what has become known as the telephone pole game, C and one of his teammates both hit home runs to left field striking the telephone pole that sat behind the fence.  Behind some strong pitching, we took that game 4-3.  C's home run was an absolute bomb that probably would have traveled 280 feet if not for the pole.  It was a tense game throughout and it was great to see the boys step up when they had to with big hits, big fielding plays and big pitching.  With that win, C's team won their pool and was moving on to the New England Championships.

Mound where G's HR landed
U12 Championship Game.  This was a tough one against the New England Storm.  We got slaughtered ignominiously.  C gave up a grand slam.  The other team's pitcher pitched a perfect game (although to our credit, it was only a 4 inning perfect game because of the slaughter rule).  It was tough.  To top it all off, we were in Brooklyn, Connecticut, which is in the middle of nowhere.  Oh well, it was still a great season.

U10 Championship Game.  G's team played much closer to home in Hanover, MA.  our first game was against the East Cobb Expos - a team from North of Boston.  G topped of a great playoff run with a bomb of a home run and 3 RBIs on two hits.  G's team won the first game to make the Championship Game.  Unfortunately, the run ended their as we again lost to the Northeast Gators.  Even though we had our other ace going, it was a tough row.  G's team kept it close but things fell apart in 4th inning as the Gators scored 9 runs to again defeat G's team by a slaughter rule.

Still a lot of fun.  Forget about how both Championships ended, we were both very proud of the boys.  Yes, it would have been nice to win the whole thing, but they learned a lot about where they are in pecking order.  Not a bad experience at all. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

2015 Diamond Nation And The Seadogs

12U baseball.  Williamsport, Cooperstown Tournaments, District play.  Baseball at this age is busier than anytime until you reach high school (and only if you play Legion ball at the same time).  C is no different.  He's an old 12 year old baseball player so a lot of Town baseball activities are over for him, but in AAU, he was still eligible for the 12U tournaments.

We were desperately looking for tournaments to go to.  He was recruited to play for on in the town next door, but it interfered with our plans for the Summer - not including our plans for that $1,000 that it would have cost him to play.  but there was one tournament we knew he would play - Diamond Nation's Memorial Day Tournament in Flemington, New Jersey.  We had 4 games - 2 on Saturday, 1 on Sunday and 1 on Monday (Monday?) and if we won our pool, we would keep playing into Monday night.

It was an interesting ride down.  8 hours, 5 stops (including an epic stop for Frank Pepe's Pizza in New Haven) and 250 text messages to his teammates later, we arrived at our hotel in Franklin Township.  Of course, he immediately tells me that he wants to go to Diamond Nation 30 minutes away to watch the games.  Seriously?  Seriously.  It was good to figure out how to get there though since our first game on Saturday was going to be 8am.

Game 1.  We played a team from Long Island, New York to begin our tournament.  The Long Island Sharks they were called.  All of a sudden I felt bad wearing my Sharks T-Shirt (me football team).  C was playing CF and batting 3rd.  We were smoked, losing 13-2.  C had an infield single for an RBI in the First Inning, walked and struck out. He made a great play from CF to throw out a runner on a single up the middle.  I guess we aren't going to play late on Monday.

Game 2.  C was starting and batting 3rd.  This was going to be an interesting game since we saw this team (Bucks County, PA) decimate the other team in our pool on Friday Night.  C hadn't pitched much this year because of arm troubles, but he seemed ready.  He gave up a run in the First on a walk, 2 stolen bases (don't get me started about our catchers) and single.  He struck out the side otherwise.  And struck out the side in the second and third inning.  Pretty impressive.  The Fourth inning featured a pop up and two walks.  Again, the catcher had some issues and let the first walk steal second and third and the second walk to steal second.  Runners were now second and third with one out.  Things started to get uncomfortable.  At the point that I started thinking that he was tiring, a passed ball led to a throwout at home.  And then another.  So the catcher being unable to catch a baseball may have actually helped C.  We were still down 1-0 in the bottom of the Fourth.

We started our half of the Fourth with a single from our 2 hitter.  He made it to second a steal.  A duck for C to help himself with and help himself he did with a single over the third baseman's head.  Tied 1-1!  C was left stranded at Second, however.  Fifth inning was like the 2nd and 3rd - K, K, K.  The Sixth Inning started harmlessly enough with a pop fly to center field.  And he drops it!  Leadoff Runner for Bucks County.  Not surprisingly, he steals send and third.  A walk and steal had runners at second and third.  While the coach was going to leave him in because it was his game.  but he came out as his arm was sore.  The next pitcher promptly gave up a three run homer.  We ended up losing that game 6-1.  C gave up 1 Earned Run and had 12 Ks.  Not bad.

Game 3.  Under the lights against Tri-Town, another team from Pennsylvania.  C was out most of the game with that sore arm, but stayed in as the extra hitter.  He had an infield single, hit-by-pitch and groundout.  We ended up losing on a walk off home run after blowing a 4-2 lead int eh Sixth Inning.  0-3 for the tournament.

Home Run Ball
Game 4.  This was the game on Monday afternoon.  The boys were playing for pride and to try to wake up the bats as we only scored 7 runs in the first three games.  The game didn't start well, though as we gave up 10 runs in the first inning.  Errors, walks, dropped third strikes, infield singles.  Ugh.  Although I was thinking about getting an earlier start on the road home.  That 10-0 lead disappeared within 2 innings though as the Seadogs made the score 10-7 highlighted by C's towering 3-run home run over the RF wall.  We were losing 15-7 in the fifth when another explosion occurred, again highlighted by C's tie breaking two-run ground rule double.  At this point at 250 people were watching the game (most of them pissed) as we went over our time allotment. We ended up losing the game in the sixth inning 18-16 despite having the lead going into the sixth inning.  A single finished of a 3 for 4 game. 

So we went 0-4.  We were in three of the games, blowing leads in the last inning of two games and being tied in the sixth inning of the third.  Not too shabby for a small little team from Southeastern Massachusetts.  C had a great tournament and had a lot of fun with his buddies.  On the way home C falls asleep in the car.  He wakes up briefly with a smile on his face.  "Remember when..." and he goes on to tell me a couple of stories.  I'll take it.