After ending their season 7-1 to finish in first place, the semo.net Surfers Little League team took to the field to defend that league title in back to back games on Friday night. Their first game against VFW (sponsored by the honored vets of Wappapello) was an impressive pitcher’s dual where Surfer pitchers struck out 13 batters and VFW pitchers mowed down 8. The five inning game ended in a 3-2 victory for the Surfers.
Trevor Rapert, Jacob Woolridge, JJ Broussard, Dalton Lewis, Bryar White, Chaney Trout, Conner Hendricks, Nathan Akers, Jared Rice, Jack “JB” Becker, Walter Hickey, Rashawn McCain, Rocky Bruner, Coach Brian Becker, Coach Jim Akers
With fifteen minutes of rest, and the heat index still high, the players squared off against Robertson Inc. at 8pm to start the championship game. The Surfers took to the field as the home team and made seven errors in the first two innings and got down 7-3 in the first and 12-5 in the second. It was apparent that the in-between-game-sugar-snack plus dehydration was taking a toll on the team’s play and decision making.
But championship games have no time limit and the Surfers did not give up.
Facing the run rule in the fourth, the Surfers were down by 12 and the team had to score 1 to keep the game going. They scored 2.
Facing the run rule down by 13 in the fifth inning, the team had to score 4 to extend the game. They scored 9.
After five hours of baseball and shortly before midnight, these Surfers came to the bottom of the sixth down by 6. Two players reached first base as the thirteenth batter faced the potential game-ending or game-extending at-bat. What every player dreams of when thinking of baseball…
The batter pushed the pitcher to a full count by fouling off two strikes. The last pitch of the game was a ball high and inside. The batter started his swing when he realized the ball was going to make contact with him he seized his hands & bat into his chest and attempted to get out of the way before the ball caught him square on his left front shoulder, or deflected off his hand to his shoulder. Depending on perspective the player either continued the swing and was out or abandoned the swing in an attempt to get out of the way.
The umpire ruled it hit the batter while swinging and called him out on strikes. It’s a judgement call, and it is his to make.
The Surfers were bested by Robertson Inc. in this six-inning, three hour and twenty minute battle: 15-21. Well done!
To the League & Umpires from Coach Becker:
This league, Greg Riggs and the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, have done an incredible job all season long of providing good, solid, baseball-loving, dependable and consistent umpires. Thank you!
The umpire did what he was supposed to: he made a call. He then allowed me to appeal the play to the first-base umpire, who confirmed the strikeout. These umpires have consistently allowed appeals and that shows me a respect for the game and for their job and I appreciate it.
This is baseball and baseball is not just about two teams playing hard but includes umpires making tough decisions.
Our team did not lose the championship game because of a questionable call on the last play; Robertson scored more runs than us. Baseball will never be about a single play: whether you win or lose.
To Robertson, Inc.:
Our team and my company salute your players and coaches for a great game and congratulate you for besting us.
To the semo.net Little League Surfers:
Surfers, I couldn’t be more proud. I’ve never had to field a team for five straight hours of baseball in 90+ heat and you guys made me more proud than I can express. At ten and eleven year old, you are mighty! You came into the dugout every inning, down by a lot, but kept believing you would win. You faced odds that make other teams crumble but had the commitment and determination to press on. You made your coaches, parents and fans proud.
One last note about Baseball
In June 2010, a perfect game, which is no hits, no walks, no errors – 27 batters & 27 outs, was on the line for pitcher Armando Galarraga and the Detroit Tigers. Galarraga had retired 26 of 27 batters as he faced the final out with a chance to record the 21st Major League perfect game. A grounder to the right side was fielded by the first baseman who flipped to Galarraga as he covered and tagged first base just before the batter for the out…but players and fans looked on in disbelief as the umpire signaled safe.
Without the benefit of watching a replay, no one could know for sure if the umpire made the right call. After the game, Umpire Joyce watched the replay and reportedly said, “I just cost that kid a perfect game.” But the call had been made, and therefore, the call was deemed correct. That’s baseball; and that’s why we love this imperfect, perfect game.
Watch this post-game interview of Calarraga who displays grace in defeat:
As a player, coach or fan, baseball provides a lifetime of opportunities to win and lose, but I encourage you to always keep in the forefront of your mind when a call doesn’t go your way:
Baseball teaches us at inopportune times how to win, how to lose and how to accept the outcome of every play and look to influence the next.
That’s baseball; and that’s why we love this imperfect, perfect game!