“Every pitch, every play, every at-bat matters. This is the postseason. This is it. You have to do everything you can within the rules of the game to win.”
Before we began warming up for our game last night against Stetson, I overheard a conversation Coach Paul Phillips was having with Gigs behind me. They we’re talking about pre-game routine and the importance of adjustments. “If you aren’t making a change in the way you prepare for today’s game to make sure you’re better today than you were yesterday, then there’s a problem,” Phillips said. Coach’s biggest teaching point for our team all year has been to prepare better than our opponent every time we play, making the game time performance feel like it’s just another part of our routine.
What he said to Gigs yesterday clearly worked because, sure enough, he went on to lead off the bottom of the first with a laser over the right field fence, leading to a multi-hit, two RBI performance.
Yesterday’s win was a complete team effort. We were winning, we were losing, we tied it up and then we pulled away because we executed in the facets of the game that often get over-looked. Hunter and Tyson both had sacrifice bunts, Josh got a great jump on a contact read at third base, Johnny even stole third early in the game with two outs, which was huge because it led to an infield single by Allan to score him.
It felt as if our offense was continuously on the brink of plating another ru, and when you give Tina and Andros run support, it’s pretty hard to beat them. Passantino, the Fort Myers native and hometown hero, went six innings last night and kept us in the game the whole way. Honestly, if it weren't for a few questionable balls and strikes called and some timely two out hitting by Stetson, we might had seen another eight-inning outing from him. But nonetheless, Nick came in after him and gave up no runs, struck out five and secured a second tournament win in a tremendous three innings pitched.
That’s team baseball, right there. Everyone contributed to the victory in some way. Of course we needed the big, bases clearing hit by Tyson late in the game to give us the lead and it feels great when our pitching staff can have multiple 1-2-3 innings to get us back in to hit. But, the game is won and lost in the in-between those big events.
What other good comes from playing team baseball? Everyone is happy. It’s fun to congratulate your teammate on sacrificing his at bat to better our team’s situation. It feels good to see your starting pitcher on the fence of the dugout in a tie-game, rooting on the guy out of the pen to help get the job done. It is nearly impossible to not relish in the positivity that casts over the dugout when you play the game hard and for each other.
We’re right where we want to be at this point in the tournament. As long as we keep approaching each game with a “team-first” mentality, we’ll keep having success, and furthermore, we’ll continue having a good time.