“C’mon, Max! Whoo!” I yelled as Max stepped into the batter’s box.
My youngest nephew was up for his second at-bat of the game. Normally #6, today he wore #2 because he’d forgotten his shirt.
Bottom of the fifth, only one out so far. The score stood at 6-5; Max’s team was behind by one run.
Max’s mom (my sister) and his dad also cheered him on. The three of us sat behind the plate, protected by a chain-link cage from any stray balls. The afternoon was warm and bright, a perfect spring day.
Max does this slow bat-waving thing as the pitcher winds up. He claims it distracts them. The pitcher released, and Max swung, just a bit low and late, and the ball tipped off and behind into the cage.
“Swing sooner!” dad called out.
“Atta boy,” I yelled.
“You can do it!” my sister, his mom, said.
The runners at second and third stepped back to their bases. The pitcher wound up again. Max did his slow-bat-wave-thing again. The pitcher threw, and Max hauled off at swung…
The bat and ball connected with the thunk of aluminum meeting horsehide, and the ball drove hard and to Max’s (and our) right.
We held our breath.
The first baseman watched the ball and took a few steps back. The pitcher ran over to his left. The right fielder ran in and towards the baseline. The ball curved out and landed clearly out of bounds.
“Foul!” cried the umpire.
Everyone returned to their places: runners, basemen, outfielders, pitcher, umpire, and Max. Me and Max’s parents hadn’t moved so we stayed put.
Max tapped the base with his bat, lifted it up, began his slow-bat-waving-thing. The pitcher took a signal, unseen by me, from the catcher. Everyone tensed.
Pitcher threw. Max swung. Bat and ball thunked.
Ball flew out and to Max’s (and our) left, right in the gap between left and center field. Both outfielders were late getting to it.
Max ran for first. The runner at second sprinted for third. The runner at third sprinted for home, easy and safe.
The score was now tied.
When the other runner reached third, he looked over his shoulder and saw the ball, thrown towards first, and kept going for home. Which he reached.
Max’s team now led.
By the time the ball got to the first baseman, Max was several steps past it and heading towards second, which he reached safely.
Max was the hero of the game. His parents and I cheered and cheered. The other team’s audience was silent, frowning.
A perfect baseball afternoon.