This weekend was full of excitement and sadness as the Bugs won their seventh tournament of 2008.  Games Friday and Saturday saw the Bugs take leads and hold on to win all three games, and yes, after more rain delays.  Friday’s highlight had to be the triple play by our shortstop, Gresham.  With runners on first and second, a line drive hit hard up the middle, what looked to be strong enough to score both runners, was actually caught by Gresham.  Without hesitation he ran to second and while stepping on the bag and jumping up, threw to first where Chase made the stretch to complete the triple play.  Gresham was carried off the field by a coach and into the dugout by fellow teammates.  Gresham is a quiet player who does not live on the praise, but plays his heart out because he loves the game and “that is what you are supposed to do.”  But this time I think he was feeling it!

By winning on Saturday night we were able to get an afternoon game on Sunday.  This allowed for everyone to attend worship at their church, enjoy a short lunch, and get to the ball park.  We would have to win 3 games on Sunday to win the championship.  The fields had not been raked between games which made the infield very choppy.  Several errors on the infield kept the game close against the Hendersonville Hurricanes.  The next game would be against our ole rival the Shelbyville Eagles.  The Bugs came out hitting and a somewhat solid defense allowed the Bugs to defeat the Eagles. 

The championship game would be played after a short rest period and raking of the infield.  Yes, they raked (we raked) the infield by hand in order to make the infield not only more playable, but also safer for all the players. 

During the rest period the kids were playing on the playground.  Head Coach Chris’s youngest son, Brett, suddenly fell off the ladder and began to cry.  With the start of the game delayed to check on Brett, the Bugs stood awaiting the report.  Brett is like the little brother every kid wants to have: full of energy, loves to play >anything<, a challenge to keep up with and always carries a smile and brings one on those that he is around.  Dr. Cobb was immediately on the scene as was many parents and players.  Brett had broken his arm and would have to be taken by ambulance to the hospital.  Also going to the hospital was our head coach, the pitcher of the Smyrna Bugs for the last three years. 

We had never had another coach pitch to the boys in a game.  The three remaining coaches began to discuss what to do in the championship game.  Who would pitch?  Who would manage the defense? What about base coaching?  One of the Bugs Dads, Tom,  joined the coaching staff and offered to do whatever it took to keep the game going.  We came out united and decided to keep the base coaches in place and I, the bat boy, would pitch the first inning.  If all went well well great.  If I blew up, well one of the base coaches would come in to pitch. 

With all the sadness for Brett and his family, we had a huddle chat and prayer for Brett, then we were on the field.  The first inning sweat was present as was a very excited and hot pitcher.  I threw what seemed like 70 to 80 mph pitches to the first batter.  I know they were not that hot, but i had three coaches and a good friend in the stands ENCOURAGING me to slow it down.  I was so excited and nervous that I did not realize the speed.  But, we got through the first with 2 runs and shut down the Franklin Comets.

The second inning Tom decided to help me out by having every batter show me “where he wanted the pitch.”   Each player would smile at me and hold their bat over the plate.  You could feel the teamwork and desire for both the batter and me (not to mention every Bugs fan in the park, and some of the Comets coaches too) for Coach Eddie to hit the target with a reasonable speed pitch.   Wow, now the pressure increased as I tried to throw slow and hit the place the batter had shown me which was about 3 inches by 10 inches.  From the mound, it looked like the size of a cookie.  


Now you have to understand the Bugs.  They are intense!  They do not get in the batter’s box to watch pitches go by.  They swing at the first pitch, good or bad.  But we did it.  The boys really tried their best to help me look good.  No, really, I think they were playing this one for Brett and wanted to take it home strong.   With great defense and solid hitting the Smyrna Bugs came out on top 13-1 over the Comets to win the Smyrna Summer Slam.  The lesson here:  when everything seems to be falling apart, unity will pull you through.  I was not on the mound alone, I had every parent and coach supporting me to their fullest.  The Bugs have the most supportive family I know. 

And Brett?  Well he got to spend the night in the hospital and await surgery on his little arm  But the entire Bugs team and staff did get the chance to present him with the Championship trophy in the emergency room.  Little four-yr-old Brett was laying in the bed with one arm in a brace and other with IV, he looked up at the Bugs with his only comment being “I got a bigger trophy than you.”  🙂 

Hey Brett, this one was for you!