That’s not the way it was supposed to happen. We didn’t take them for granted. We knew they’d be playing for the pride of their nation and fans on top of a chance to play for a medal, and we knew they were a strong team. We had our ace on the hill and we were focused. Then three walks, one hit batter, seven(!) dinky singles, three(!) uncharacteristic errors, and a whole lot of “what just happened?” happened and we were down 8-0.
I can’t really explain it. I was watching it from right behind home plate, but i can’t explain it. We fell apart at the seams. This wasn’t the 16U National Team. Not the one I’ve known the past three weeks, at least. The previous 24 hours, all I could think about was taking care of business against Taipei, then taking care of business against whoever was next, and then getting the chance to play under the lights on Sunday night for a Gold Medal; and then for the first 3 innings all I could think about was how to apologize to my boss and coworkers for guiding a team that would now have the chance to be crowned fifth best in the world. That doesn’t happen. That can’t happen. The organization and so many other great people invest too much time, effort, and money for that to happen. I would have been sick for a long, long time.
I knew we were capable of a comeback, I just didn’t know how plausible it would be on this day. I certainly wasn’t giving up hope, but we weren’t us to start that game. Us had it in us to come back, but, again, we weren’t us.
But just as they’ve done all tournament long, JoJo and Cous sparked the fire. As Cous was rounding third after his bomb to center field to put us on the board at 8-2, I took a look over at the dugout and could tell that they believed. IBAF regulations require players to remain in the dugout following a homer, because otherwise the guys would have been circling the bases right along with him. Us was back.
From that point on, we righted the ship, chipped away with good at-bat after good at-bat driving the ball into the gaps, caught the ball in the field, and hopped on Cory’s back for the next 6 innings.
Cory was amazing. We knew we wanted to go with Ricky and Cory against them because Ricky would shove it and Cory would shut the door because they were afraid of him. We just didn’t think he’d have to shut the door on them while holding it open for us, but that’s exactly what he did.
This team is galvanized now. You don’t go through that and not become stronger. We were a “team” already. We enjoyed each other, trusted each other, supported each other, but now that bond is even tighter because we know we can do just about anything as a team together; all 27 of us pulling that rope in the same direction.
We’ve got a screening of “Miracle” after lunch, and then it’s back to work on a 3:30 pm bus to the yard. The comeback was amazing yesterday, but let’s leave that one for yesterday. Ideally, this one will go a little more like it’s supposed to and we’ll be where we should be on Sunday night.