Wild Finishes

I headed to Austin yesterday for a field trip (that post will make it out tomorrow).  On the way, I made a pit stop in Cypress, Texas to umpire a double header.  Cypress is just off US-290, the freeway between Houston and Austin.  The games went really well.  Cy Ranch H.S., in its first year open, hosted Cy Creek in a freshman and JV district match up.

Cy Ranch is at a slight disadvantage to Cy Creek from the start.  Because they are a brand new high school, they are following the “open with only freshmen and sophomores” plan.  This left their Junior Varsity team devoid of any actual juniors, instead calling up many freshmen.

I was behind the plate the freshman game, and,  I had one of the best games I’ve ever had behind the plate.  The pitchers made it pretty easy for me.  They weren’t that wild, and they let their defenses do the work behind them.  And that defense was pretty good too.  The game stayed 0-0 all the way to the bottom of the 7th.

Cy Creek just missed scoring in the top of the 6th, though.  With a runner on 3rd and one out, they tried the suicide squeeze.  I was right on the play and the first basemen flipped the ball to the plate in time.  The tag was there but it was damn close. I called him out because 1) I think that was the right call 2) the home team’s getting a call that close.

In the bottom of the 7th, Cy Ranch managed to get their leadoff man on base on a bloop single to right.  The 2nd batter of the inning sacrifice bunted the runner to second, one out.  The next batter nailed a line drive to center.  The ball just ended up making it to center where the fielder made a shoe string catch driving the runner at second back to the bag, two outs.

This brought up the small guy.  This guy had walked and struck out already in the game, and neither was very impressive.  This time the kid fell behind in the count 1-2.   After fouling off a pair, he flicked the bat on the outside fastball floating it back into left… we’re having a play at the plate.  But wait…

The left fielder booted the ball.  The runner from second scores.  The ballgame is over and its an explosive atmosphere.  The home team wins 1-0 on a walk off single.

Game two followed quickly thereafter.  This time I was in the field.  Cy Creek looked to take this game quite easily, and really, they probably should have.  They were a much bigger (their first basemen is the school’s starting varsity  left tackle at 6’8″) and much more experienced team.

Unfortunately, Cy Creek’s starting pitcher set a poor tone for the game.  He was bouncing pitches, cussing himself for missing the corner of the plate by 3 inches.  His poor attitude got him bounced from the game in the 2nd inning after giving up 5 runs.

His replacement did rather well though.  He held Cy Ranch to just 1 more run over the next 5 innings.  Meanwhile, their offense started to pick it up slowly, scoring one run here and there to take the lead at 6-5 in the 6th inning.

Cy Ranch would tie it and jump ahead in the bottom of the frame to make it 7-6, needing only 3 outs to go.  Then things really got exciting.  The first to batters in the bottom of the inning reached via single (advance to second on a throwing error) and a walk.  First and second, no outs.

After a brief mound conference and a couple of pitches, the pitcher steps off and fakes a throw to second base.  The entire Cy Ranch team starts yelling “Cut 4 Cut 4” indicating we might have to make a play at the plate.  The middle infielders run to the outfield after the non-existant wild pick off throw.  The base coach for Cy Creek is going nuts yelling to stay on the bag, the batter joins him with pointing to the pitcher.  The runner on first is running hard to second, the guy on second is 5 feet off the bag confused.

I’m just standing there with the biggest grin on my face.  The pitcher tags the runner at second before he can get back to the bag, the runner from first runs right into the tag… double play.  I cannot believe someone fell for that.  I’ve seen that tried 4-5 times ever.  No one ever falls for that.  These guys did… it was so awesome.

The players start jumping up and down as if they’ve won the game.  In all fairness, if you pull that deke off, the team caught running should just forfeit due to the stupidity they pulled, if not conceded that the play was so awesome that the other team should win.  So after breaking up the dog pile of a celebration just to the foul side of the first base line, we continued the game.

The first pitch to the next batter is hammered hard through the hole at shortstop.  The shortstop makes the stop, gets up, and JUST missed getting the out.  The runner is safe, Cy Creek still has life.

Or so they thought.  The Cy Ranch pitcher comes set — it’s a pick off — and there’s a spin move.   The runner leaned HARD to second, he’s hung out to dry.  I bring the hammer as he is so so so out.  The game is over… the celebration begins.  My heart as an umpire is racing for the kids.  That was some awesome ball.


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