The Hitting Zone - Chapter 827 - V3 ch62 (VS Branham HS 2)
Chapter 827 – V3 ch62 (VS Branham HS 2)
I was the second to last one out of the dugout. Garret was slower than me, surprisingly. He walked up the mound like something was on his mind. I bet that first baseman was talking to him too when he was on first during my at-bat.
Just as I was hoping that Garret wasn’t too affected, the cleanup hitter connected on the first pitch, hitting a line drive to the corner of left field. Jesse was sprinting to get the ball, picked it off the grass and threw his hardest to Noah, who went to be the cutoff. Noah turned to me at second, but the batter already made it here without needing to slide.
Noah threw the baseball back to Garret on the mound. Garret was expressionless when turning to face the next batter. I usually didn’t care to note who the batter is or what position he plays, but the next batter up was that talkative first baseman. Garret cornered him quickly into a 1-2 count. He then threw his best breaking ball, the cutter.
The batter must have been waiting for that exact pitch, because how else could he hit it to center field perfectly?
The runner from second already had a good lead, and with his fast speed, I could tell he wanted to go home.
“To home!” Noah called out as Korrey fielded the ball on a hop.
Korrey threw his hardest, not bothering to throw to Noah, his cutoff. The ball wasn’t going to make it in time. Mitchell got the ball and threw it back to Noah at second to stop the batter from moving to the next base. An RBI single for the talkative first baseman. Tch.
Noah called time and walked the ball up to Garret on the mound. Mitchell also walked up the mound to join their conversation. I glanced at Sean at first. Seeing him standing on the bag with that batter held me back. Whatever Noah wanted to talk about with Garret shouldn’t concern me. They’re the best when it comes to baseball knowledge. I wouldn’t be able to contribute anything.
The ump stepped up and called for the game to resume. Noah went back to his position as did Mitchell.
1-0…Branham with the lead. We haven’t been down in a game at all this tournament so this was a new experience. Maybe not ‘new’ because we’ve been down before in a game. The last time being in the CIF finals.
Batter number six got into the lefty’s box, an unusual occurrence. There weren’t too many lefty’s normally, especially ones willing to face a left-handed pitcher. He was able to make contact like the previous two batters, but only hit a routine grounder to me. I flipped the ball to Noah at second base, and he completed the double play to Sean, beating out the batter. Two outs.
“What’d you say to Garret?” I whispered to Noah as we sat down on the bench. Neither of us would be going up to bat anytime soon.
Noah shook his head. “I didn’t say much. Garret was the one who did the most talking.”
My eyes drifted to Garret, who stopped next to Coach to say a few words.
“Don’t worry about him.” Noah slapped me on the shoulder. “A few hits given up isn’t anything that can hold him up. His pitcher mentality is the toughest on the team. He’s not fragile like Kyle.”
I cracked a smile.
Bottom of the second, our batters came up empty. Korrey and Mitchell had back to back strikeouts. They went down swinging like Coach said to, fouling off what they could, pushing the pitch count up a bit. Sean made contact early in his at-bat, but it was a routine grounder to short.
Top of the third. Garret handled the bottom of their lineup in a similar fashion as they did us. Strikeout. Strikeout. Then the top of the order grounded out to short. Three up, three down, and Garret looked good.
Bottom of the third had a rough start. Back to back strikeouts again. Jesse and Tanner weren’t able to foul off as many pitches as Korrey and Mitchell so there was no plus side. Just…outs.
Noah moved to the batter’s box, Garret was on deck, and I stood in the hole. Just as I was thinking to myself that having two outs against us was a downer, Noah got pegged in the back from an inside fastball. Noah tossed his bat back towards the dugout and jogged to first, holding a hand to his back. It must have hurt.
I glanced at Coach to see if he was going to go out there to talk to Noah. God knows how he’s been watching me like a hawk for a swollen ankle. Coach had pursed his lips but didn’t move an inch. I moved to the on deck circle.
Garret took one last practice swing before moving to the lefty’s batter’s box. Last at-bat, he got a single on a curveball. I wonder if he was going to aim for the curve again or if the pitcher was just going to use his fastballs.
Noah took a lead off first base. The pitcher looked over his shoulder to check on him, but didn’t step off the rubber. He kicked up his front leg and started his motion, and Noah took off! I froze and watched in anticipation.
Garret swung and missed. The catcher jumped up and transferred the ball to his throwing hand at the same time in order to get a quick throw off to second. Noah slid into second base, head first, as the tag came down from the second baseman.
“Safe!” The ump closest to the action spread his arms out wide.
Noah called ‘time’ before getting up and dusting himself off. Our dugout clapped and cheered for him. We were showing some signs of life. A runner in scoring position!
The pitcher seemed a little annoyed at the stolen base. He did two check-throws to make sure Noah was staying closer to the base. It proved to be a fatal distraction when he finally threw his second pitch to Garret. It was a fastball…right down the middle. Garret connected and blasted it to right-center field. Then he took off.
He wasn’t the only one. Noah was the fastest on the team and it really showed as he ran from second, rounded third, and tagged home plate before the center fielder could get the ball in. Garret made it to second base without needing to slide. An RBI double. Tie game, 1-1.
I high-fived Noah on his way back to the dugout.
“Let’s go!” He cheered as he walked back into the dugout, getting the rest of the team pumped up.
It didn’t matter though. The catcher stayed standing, holding his right hand out over the other batters box, calling for another intentional walk.