Chapter 815 - V3 ch50 (VS Lowell HS 5)
Coach also came out, talking to the umpire about the pitching change. It was Tyler Larsen jogging to the mound from the bullpen. The senior slowed up as soon as he reached the infield, walking up the mound to meet Coach. They spoke for a few seconds until Mitchell came out of the dugout, finally dressed in his catcher's gear.
Mitchell went to the mound first to greet Tyler and probably to make sure they're on the same page, then headed to home plate. Tyler was allowed some practice pitches before the fifth batter stepped up to the plate. He didn't get off to a good start, pegging the batter on the backside on the very first pitch.
"Next one, next one." Noah clapped with his glove as we slightly shifted our fielding positions.
Tyler nodded in acknowledgement before facing the next batter. He threw another pitch inside, missing the strike zone and thankfully the batter. The next pitch was in the strike zone, and the batter saw it coming from a mile away. He knew Tyler wanted to throw a good strike and timed it well.
He hit a line drive over Noah's leaping reach. The ball bounced before Jesse could get to it, but he fielded the ball the best he could, getting it back to Noah, stopping the runners at first and second.
I covered second as Noah walked to the pitcher's mound. He gave the ball to Tyler and said something behind his glove. Tyler spoke into his glove too, having a small conversation with Noah until the umpire came out from behind the plate.
Noah jogged back to his position and Tyler got set again. He was now on batter seven and had calmed down, throwing the first pitch for a good strike. The batter had completely missed. Tyler followed along Mitchell's lead, placing his pitches in good spots. The batter struck out swinging.
"That's the way to do it!" Noah clapped with his glove.
Batter eight stepped up next. Tyler checked on the runners at first and second before getting set. I was standing a little closer to second base, trying to keep the runner from taking such a big lead off the bag. Tyler threw his first pitch and the batter swung his bat, making perfect contact. He sent the ball right back the way it came. Tyler ducked and I dove for the line drive coming up the middle, sliding in the dirt.
The whole crowd gasped.
"To second!" Noah yelled at me.
Behind me the runner on second was caught off guard by my catch. He was almost halfway to third, but turned back to make a dive for second base. From the dirt, I threw the ball...poorly. Way off the mark. Noah couldn't make the catch and the ball went to the grass in the outfield. The runner on second base jumped up and thought about making a move for third again, but Garret had been sprinting in to cover my bad throw. He scooped the ball up with his bare hand and threw it directly to Tyler, who stood just off the mound.
There was a mix of claps, cheers, and complaints from the stands.
"What a lucky catch!"
"He's lucky the center fielder was coming in or we would have had runners on first and third instead."
"Should have been a double play."
I slowly got up from the dirt, trying to dust myself off. Physically and mentally.
"Time." Noah told the umpire, giving me time to get back into position. Noah jogged over and checked on me. "Great catch! You hurt at all?"
I shook my head and sighed. "Only my pride."
Noah laughed. "Shake it off. Don't care about the throw. You stopped them from scoring. That's a good thing."
I bit the inside of my cheek and shrugged.
Noah gave me a small slap on the shoulder before going back into his own position so the game could resume. Tyler handled the ninth batter spot with ease, getting him to strike out swinging. That ended the top of the fifth inning and we headed back to our own dugout.
"Good catch, Jake." Sean grinned as we met at the dugout entrance.
I nodded politely. "Thanks."
"He's still stressing about his throwing error." Noah told Sean. "He's probably not taking your compliment seriously."
I felt my face warmed up from embarrassment.
Sean gave me a knowing look. "You already made a great stop, don't stress about that throw. Didn't we get out of the inning? They still have zero."
I nodded again.
Noah headed for our bags, getting his helmet and gloves on. "You can't talk sense into him, Sean. He's just going to be stuck in his own head for a little bit."
I silently moved to get my helmet on too.
Noah was first up to bat this inning and I was on deck. Standing just outside the dugout, I could hear Coach addressing the outfielders.
"Did you guys see how Garret backed that play up?" He said. "Even though it wasn't an outfield play, he still came running in on the off-chance the ball got by Noah. Ball, base, back-up. The three B's of baseball are the basics. If you can't get the ball, cover a base. If someone is covering that base, then back-up that play. This is how you play great defense."
I was too busy listening to Coach and therefore didn't pay attention to Noah's at-bat. Noah came back with a sigh, having struck out swinging. "New pitcher. Man, I was really hoping for no strikeouts this tournament." He went back inside the dugout.
I moved to the batter's box slowly, knocking my bat against my cleats. New pitcher, huh? It's not like the last guy was sucking. He only gave up those three runs in the first inning and one run in the third. It's more of an offense problem for the opposing team.
I stood in the batter's box and waited to see what kind of pitches I would be dealt. Fastball outside for a ball. Fastball inside for a called strike. A curve ball out of the zone for ball two. A curve ball in the zone for a called strike. With a 2-2 count, I fouled off a couple of more pitches before aiming for the fastball. Found one and made good contact with the barrel of my bat, but didn't pull it to left field like I've been doing. It was a line drive to right field.
As I ran to first, I had a great view of the right fielder catching the ball before it could leave the field. Out. Me.
I turned back and picked up my bat before going to the dugout. I glanced at Coach as I walked into the dugout, but he didn't speak up. I went to my bag in silence.
"He's human!" Mitchell exclaimed, making the dugout laugh.
I even cracked a smile.
"Seriously, though." Sean grinned, sitting right between my bag and Mitchell. "I thought Jake would go through the whole tournament without getting an out."
Noah wiggled his brows. "Maybe next tournament." He smiled at me and patted the bench. "Take a seat, Jake."