THE MIRACLE GAME
by Justin Allen
Well, it's that time of year again. The clinging of the bats, the pop of the gloves. Its baseball season, and it couldn't come at a better time. Tryouts are tomorrow, and I can hardly wait, even though I know the routine. If you ask me, I think its pretty stupid how you have to tryout every year, especially if you've already been on the team for 3 years, like me.
Anyways, Miami Central is back in action, and our team goal is to go undefeated this season. All of the baseball teams in Southern Florida play 15 games. Last year we went 14-1, only losing to Palm Bay Regional High. I've got to give them their props, they have a stacked lineup. All of their outfielders: .300 plus average. First baseman: 14 homers. Second and third basemen: 45 RBI's. Definitely crazy, but hey, our starting 9 ain't nothing to sneeze at, either. 2 years ago, we were the best in our division, up 6 games. They call me their star player, and even though I'm very humble about it, I kind of am. People have told me all my life that I have the talent, and that if I just keep practicing, I just might have a shot at the big leagues.
Boy would I love to play for the Miami Marlins, that would be my dream. The only reason I wear the number 27 is because of Giancarlo Stanton. I begged my mom for a Giancarlo Stanton jersey, but they were all sold out in and around Miami. So I went online and ordered one with the number 27 and Hernandez, my last name, on it. Good enough, right? Oh well. I guess you cant get everything. So anyways, tryouts came and everyone made it blah blah blah and all that stuff. Since I'm on varsity, there weren't any new kids, all of the freshmen and sophomores made JV. I'm not going to get into a whole lot of detail. Let's take you 8 games in. at this point, we were 7-0, running into trouble in the top of the 9th. We were at home, currently losing to the St. Petersburg Pirates 7-6. Let's see... oh yeah! They had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs.
By the way, this game decided whether or not we clinched the division or not, because Orlando was 6-1, only a game behind us. A left handed batter, like me, was up and did the same thing I did when I didn't make good contact. He rocketed a ball right to the shortstop, ME. The ball was hit fast, so I made the risky decision of throwing to 3rd, hoping for a triple play, which has never been done in MCHS history. But I knew my teammates could do it, so I gunned it to 3rd base. Ludwig caught it, stepped on the bag. 1 out. He whipped it to Cody at 2nd, he caught it and fell. 2 outs. The runner was more than ¾ of the way down the line now, and Cody had to get rid of it quick. He jumped up all of a sudden like nothing happened at fired to 1st. Jack picked it and looked to the umpire, as if expecting his fist to be raised. It was. Triple play! We actually did it!
So that was one of the two major clutch performances for me in that game. The second one is by far my absolute favorite, the best homerun I'd hit senior year. We tied the ballgame 7-7 on an RBI double by a junior, Marc Princeton, who was not that good of a hitter, and that was probably only his 3rd or 4th hit this season. Before I went out to the on-deck circle, I remember Coach Rathbun telling me, since we had a chance to steal the game, to
"focus on the ball and the ball only. Make contact. I know you can do it, Jimmy. Go show these boy scouts who's ballpark it is." "Okay, Coach, I'll try," I replied.
Just as I started to walk out, he grabbed me by the shoulder, lunged me back and whispered, "There's some situations in life where you can try, or you can do. It's your decision whether or not which one will get you farther." I stood there and stared at him, absorbing the questionable thought. He raised his eyebrow , and told me to get moving. When I got into the on deck circle, the Pirates coach came out and made a pitching change. Out from the bullpen came their star lefty, Walton Hughes, who can throw almost 90 mph. I've gone 0-12 off him so far during high school, and I made the decision to do instead of try and go 1-13, since this will most likely be my last at bat against him, since I was a senior and all. So, now to the good stuff. I remember it like it was yesterday. I stepped up to the plate, dug in, and did what coach told me. Focus on the ball. First pitch he threw was a beanball, caught me looking for strike 1.
After that was a curveball at the knees. 0-2. Now I knew he'd waste a pitch, and he did. He threw a changeup down and away, ball 1. Here's the pitch. He was going to throw a slider, I knew it. He kicked, threw, and the pitch was coming right at my head. Winning run on first. I knew it was going to break, but as fast as it was going, I started to be doubtful. But, when in doubt, swing hard. So I did. Cling! Foul ball. I almost caught it enough for a base hit, but I swung too early. I decided to take the next pitch, which was smart, because he threw an extremely influential breaking ball outside that would fool any hitter who hadn't made the decision to swing or take yet.
The counts 2-2, and I'm swinging on this pitch, because I know he likes to come back with a K using a fastball, middle in. I timed it, gripped my bat, and took a big hack at it. Bang. I knew it the minute I hit it, and so did everyone else, because they all started yelling and cheering. I looked up, and there it was, the ball was soaring down the right field line, just the way I hooked it. I was so caught up in the moment, I almost forgot to run. I kept looking at the right fielder, who was sprinting back trying to track the ball down. He slowed down and eventually stopped as we watched the ball fly into the crowd. My fist jolted into the air with pride, suddenly realizing that this was the best moment in my high school baseball career. (Besides winning the championship, which I've already experienced because we won it my freshman year.)
As I rounded 3rd, I looked at Walton, and he was absolutely steamed. He threw his hat on the ground and kicked it, and chucked his glove into the dugout. I sort of chuckled. That was definitely the highlight of my senior season. In case you were wondering, we ended our season 15-0, and like I said, we won the championship. Now that I'm in college, the scouts will be looking at me to view my skills. I'm already eligible to enter the 2014 MLB Draft, but I want to play a year in college to gain some experience of playing with the big boys. I'll tell ya, if it wasn't for those words my coach said that day, and my want to go undefeated, I don't really know where I'd be today.