Friday, September 12, 2008

EnvironMentals survive nail biter, advance to 2008 Patriot Summer Division Finals

The Green Team advanced to the 2008 Patriot Summer Division Finals on Thursday with an extra-inning victory over the Gym Class Heroes.

“It’s a good feeling, being back in the Finals three seasons after our last appearance,” said third baseman BK. “Ever since our first season with the MiddleSex Panthers, we’ve been champing at the bit for another shot at the title. Now’s our chance.”

The EnvironMentals had to fight for their second chance, however, as the Gym Class Heroes proved to be more-than-worthy adversaries.

The Green Team beat a shorthanded Heroes squad handily during the regular season, so they came into Thursday’s match confident but knowing that the Maroon Middleschoolers weren’t just going to hand the Finals bid to them on a platter.

The game started well as the away Green Team managed to plate a pair of important runs in the top of the first inning with a well-placed infield single by Leigh.

The Green Team defense showed up as well, blanking the Heroes in the first inning and getting Big out of a jam in the second, allowing only one run.

In the third inning, however, the wheels fell off and the Heroes managed three big runs, taking a two-run lead going into the latter half of the game.

Though the situation looked bleak, the EnvironMentals never lost hope.

“My favorite part about our team is that they never shut up,” beamed Eric. “Our cheers are always positive and, for the younger fans, often educational!”

Despite the third inning lapse, the Green Team’s defense held strong in the fourth, which gave the offense a chance.

In the next inning that chance bore fruit. The Heroes’ defense left the door open just wide enough to allow two Green Team runs as Asian brought home BK and Leigh kicked in her third RBI of the game which turned out to be the biggest play of her kickball career.

When the Heroes’ pitcher forced a pop-out ending the top of the fifth, all the pressure landed squarely on the defense’s shoulders again.

Fans of the EnvironMentals quickly had their heart rates tested as a double and a walk put two runners on with no outs. The pitcher, however, redeemed the walk with a rare strike out.

But the play of the inning, that kept the Green Team’s hopes for kickball glory alive, went to Beastwood. With two outs and the Gym Class Heroes’ winning run only 20 steps away, the Beast came up big, going to ground after a spinning ball at first base. Then, in a move that seemed to involve him spontaneously mutating a second knee, he was able to get the force out at first in front of the speedy runner, ending the inning.

In the waning twilight, the team captains agreed to attempt to get a full tournament overtime inning in before calling the game and resorting to Rochambeau to decide the winner.

With the stragglers from the field two game watching on, the Heroes took the field under tournament overtime rules: Eight field players allowed (four girls and four boys) with the last out of the Top of the fifth starting at second base.

This left Pete in scoring position to start the sixth inning. The offense did what they needed to do and brought Pete home with Zach kicking the all-important RBI that gave the EnvironMentals the lead for the first time since the third inning.

As darkness set in, the EnvironMental’s hastily assembled eight man field arranged themselves with set shoulders and gritted teeth.

Pitching to a kicker the fielders almost couldn’t see Big gave up a bunt single, holding the ball for fear of allowing the runner at second to come around home. The Heroes, playing smart, then bunted the bases full with no outs.

A little bit of luck led to a four foul out. Then, coming back from being three balls behind the Heroes’ kicker, Big forced a pop up to second base. Normally a relatively easy play, the ball disappeared into the ink leaving every EnvironMental’s heart in their throat.

However, BK ranged in, found the ball through the darkness and made the catch, then had the presence of mind to step on second, leaving the overeager runner hung out to dry between second and third.

The game-ending double play was indicative of the quality of play and composure of spirit that represented Green Team kickball throughout the season. BK’s Game MVP award was well-deserved.

After an emotional and suprisingly-complicated post game cheer, the Green Team gratefully made their way to the bar.

“I’ve never been so spent after a kickball game,” Eric wheezed as he limped off the field.

“Hee hee ha ha hoo ha!” jibbered* Asian alongside him.

The only tarnish on what was a fairytale night was the knowledge that it was the last game in green for Leigh “Tangerine” (it’s a lifestyle) and Catie “FBJ”.

“We’re going to miss them,” sobbed Big. “They’re my favorite Tangerine and FBJ ever.”

Catie, at least, can rest secure in the knowledge that she’ll be getting her kickball fix on Wednesdays with the newly launched East Cambridge Raining Sideways.

Tangerine is expected to join the Ollies’ booster club and come to a game in East Cambridge equipped with a sign because kickball, like Tangerine, is a lifestyle.

* Translated from “Chinese-y”: “Yay! We won! We go to final!”

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