I've experienced a lot of ups and downs with the Grandpas softball team over the years. We've been in winners brackets and losers brackets, seasons of 12-4 and 4-12, walk-off wins and losses in bunches. But there's one thing I've never experienced with them: beating Upper Deck.
There's no shame in losing to Upper Deck. In one three-year span, they did not lose a single game. They've won our league multiple times. They've fifteen-runned us a few times. They've beaten us the last six times I played against them, and ten times in a row since 2004. Last year they were also strong, although in the championship game they were upset by Big Blue Sox (who we managed to beat this year. This season we also beat last year's C-league champions in their first year promoted to our league). Could the Grandpas be giant-killers again? Enough history ... let's get to the game!
We started out with a lights-out pitching performance from Bill, who retired the first nine batters in order. Offensively we had loads of base runners but only managed to convert a handful into runs. We steadily increased our lead, from 3-0 in the first, to 5-0 in the second, 6-0 and 7-1 after three and four innings respectively.
In the fifth inning came Bill's only mistake: a pitch too low that was converted to a three-run homer. At the end of the inning the score was 7-5, but Upper Deck was coming alive.
The sixth inning was routine, with the Grandpas tacking on one more run and Upper Deck not responding. In the seventh inning, we started a rally but were stopped by a Gold-Glove caliber double play, limiting us to only one run. Now 9-5 and Upper Deck has the last chance at the plate.
Upper Deck started off with two base hits, giving them runners at first and third. A line-out to short gave them one out, and an error at shortstop gave them one run, and runners at first and second, with the tying run and big slugger at the plate. Bill stops to lecture the outfielders: "Outfielders! Stop the runners on fly balls!" Quick-witted Grandpa responds "Hey pitcher, keep the ball in the park!" On the first pitch, the big Upper Deck slugger takes a giant hack. The ball goes back, back, back, back.... CAUGHT at the warning track by Grandpa! It's now 9-6, two outs, and history is in the making. A weak ground ball to second base becomes the game-ending fielder's choice. Grandpa's Last Stand? is victorious!
My line: 1-3, BB, R, first time in seven tries that I've beaten Upper Deck!