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|Event #130: Hard Stories
POWERSBOOKS: To enhance your summer reading regimen(hurry!) BOB POWERS reviews new thrillers by RIDLEY PEARSON AND MICHAEL D.McCLELLAN, and recommends a Thoreauean meditation by JOHN HANSON MITCHELL.
K.O.'s CALLS: KRIS "KO" OLSON talks more Baseball.
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G21 ASIA: ROD AMIS provides a follow-up to his series on the Cambodia election: Mirage on the Mekong.
IRISH EYES: Guest Contributor DAN VANDEMORTEL returns to Rate Congress on Human Rights for Northern Island.
POWERSSOUND: BOB POWERS on Jazz cornetist RUBY BRAFF, singer FREDDY COLE, and the WOODY HERMAN BAND.
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A few more wins after that, and who knows? I could have been watching these very 12-year-olds earn the trip to Williamsport to be drubbed by a team of 18-year-olds from the Philippines on national TV (oh yeah, they cracked down on that, I forgot).
I'll spare you a complete play-by-play. But suffice it to say that it was a lot of fun to watch a baseball game without paying to park, or even to get through the gates. Didn't visit the concession stand, but I imagine Cokes were a smidgen under the $3.50 they charge at Fenway.
Though I was directly behind home plate, I was not in danger of any splash - back from disposed chew tobacco.
Players sprinted to and from the dugouts after the third out of each inning and ran out each ground ball. There were at least a couple of close "strike three" calls. But where, in the major leagues, these calls might have been an excuse for a clash of egos between a star player and a think-I'm-a-star umpire, the little league victims simply jogged back to the dugout.
A few of the big league rules still did apply, but they were the ones that go to the essence of the game, not the extraneous ones that detract from it. For example, Swampscott's Alex Stone taught Newton North pitcher Bobby Colantonio how costly it can be to fall behind in the count, even to someone four years shy of his learner's permit. Stone, who had hit three home runs in the semifinals the day before, took a 2-0 offering from Colantonio and deposited it in the crowd of friends and family behind the left field fence to lead off the game for his fourth home run in five at-bats.
Newton North ultimately prevailed 5-3 on the strength of its defense and some fine relief pitching from a young man by the name of Keith Pescosolido, who allowed only one baserunner over the final three innings. That offset a gutsy performance by Swampscott pitcher Max Gotschall, who pitched a complete game in 90-plus degree heat.
I salute all the players who went out and competed, not for million-dollar bonuses or endorsement deals, but for the fun of the game. But my heart goes out to one in particular.
With Newton North needing only one more out to win the game, Swampscott's R.J. Garner was asked to do something many of the players whose likenesses probably adorn his walls, be they Griffey, McGwire or Vaughn, would have had a hard time doing. After sitting on the bench the entire game, Garner was sent up to pinch hit. If he could reach base, Swampscott's slugger Stone would have the chance to tie the game with one swing.
Garner quickly had two strikes on him, but tenaciously fouled off a couple of pitches, eventually working the count back to three balls and two strikes.
Garner got his bat on one more pitch, another foul ball, before swinging and missing at strike three. Moments later, while Newton North celebrated on the field, a sobbing Garner was enveloped in a bear hug by an assistant coach who tried to console him.
Hopefully by now, someone has convinced Garner that he didn't let his team down. His effort was not only acceptable, but commendable.
(Coming next week: K.O.'s fearless NFL predictions. Here's a preview: the Jets won't be very good.)
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