July 4th weekend was a baseball world for Smyrna Bugs.  It all began on Thursday with skills competition:  Home Run Derby, Around the Horn, and Fastest Speed around the Bases.  Our infield did a great job with Around the Horn (Ryan, Bryce, Alex, Chase and Gresham) but did not take a trophy.  Parker and Stuart had what would be great base hits in the Derby, but no trophy.  Yet while watching the Derby, none of us realized how much these two would help carry us to our standings in the tournament with their strong bats.  And Steven, Dylan, Brian, Aaron, and Patrick were in the speed race.  Steven took first place in semi-finals, but due to a stumble around third in the finals, came in second with a trophy.  There were 29 teams, representing 5 states, with over 300 kids participating in the World Series. 

Then it was on to the games Friday, Saturday, Sunday.  The weekend could be summed up with two words, Teamwork and Unity.  Following a team chat and prayer we were on the wet field facing the MS Mustangs.  Rain was coming down and of course the Bugs bats don’t work when wet.  But Brian’s glove does.  He made  a diving catch in right center that should be on ESPN.  But we lost 9 -5.  Immediately following the game an unusual thing happened.  The Mustangs invited us to meet them on the mound for prayer.  I have to say that the Mississippi Mustangs are a well oiled machine and top notch people. 

It was on to game 2 against the GA Bulldogs.  We changed up the batting order to lessen the pressure on some hitters.  It worked.  Alex, usually lead-off hitter, moved to batting sixth, came through with his first triple of the season.  And of course, the Bugs defense was just as tough.  A base hit to left was cut off by Aaron (A-Ron) who threw it in to Ryan (Ryn-O) at third.  Without stopping, Ryan turned and gunned it to home where Byrce made the catch and tagged the runner all in one motion.  It was a bang-bang play to get the out.  This play, and the strong bat of Parker in a key at-bat, propelled us to the win of 6-4 over the Bulldogs.  We invited the Bulldogs to join us at the mound for prayer. 

The third game of the day was against Brentwood Power.  Our bats must have gotten dried off because this game was an exhibition in hitting by all the Bugs.  We came away winners 13-5.   We asked the Power to meet us on the mound for prayer.

We made it into the Gold Bracket for Saturday and would see only two games, if we won both.  We faced the GA Tribe, defeating them 8-2.  Both teams met on the mound for prayer.  Then we faced McNair Sports from Nashville.  The Bugs bats were as hot as ever.  We won 18-5, but not without a motivating slide by Chase.  He rounded third headed for home with the throw coming in from right field.  He went air-born, diving into home plate to avoid the tag.  SAFE!  But as he got up and walk to the dugout all you could see was dust;  in the air, on his uniform, on his face. He was even spitting it out of his mouth.  You could not even see his teeth, even though he was trying to smile about being safe.  McNair also joined us in prayer on the mound following this game. 

Sunday would see a hot morning game between the Bugs and Mustangs again.  We were ready for the challenge and the Bugs played their hearts, souls, bodies out on this game.  It was a back-n-forth game.  The Mustangs would not quit.  The Bugs would not stop making great plays and running the bases great.  Finally, after two extra innings and key hits by Parker and Stuart (our Home Run Derby guys) in the extra innings, the Bugs defeated the Mustangs 22-19.  Stuart’s bat came through in this game as he stayed focused on his stance and follow-through.  He drove one to the right field fence in the extra innings to help us get the win.    And yes, they meet us on the mound for prayer.

We were dog-tired!  The emotion. The heat. The game.  WOW, we were shot.  Yet, following a one-hour break and a Chapel service on “Joe Giradi and filling Big Shoes,” we were off to two more games.  Unfortunately these would be our last two games for the World Series. 

The Bugs took the field trying to be excited and full of energy.  The first game, facing North 31 Rebels from AL, was accurately described afterwards by Coach Pete as a blur.  To our shock, they run-ruled us early.  We prayed on the mound with them and then we headed to lunch. 

After lunch we faced Arlington Tigers from Memphis.  Again the Bugs tried to be excited, but were still trying to recover from the effects of the Mustangs long game that morning.  We lost and walked off the field very tired.  More tired than upset for the loss, I believe.

The Bugs walked away with THIRD PLACE in the 2008 BPA World Series and may have been part of a new tradition in our travel ball, praying with the other team on the mound following the game.  “That ain’t a bad weekend right there.  I don’t care who you are!”  Larry the Cable Guy