The Magical Flying Unicorns win the biggest game ever and advance to the finals taking out the undefeated number 1 seed CNA. Sometimes the final game is not the biggest. The history of sports is full of examples of semifinal games that were much bigger than the championship.
The U.S. 1980 hockey team is a perfect example as the famous game against Russia was not the gold medal game. It was not until they beat Finland that a spot in history was secured. Winning a big semi game can make the final even tougher as it is natural for a team to have a letdown after a big win. Therefore it is important for the Unicorns to focus that much more this coming Tuesday.
The game started inauspiciously with two outs in a row by T-Bear and Bauer. It looked like it was going to be a 1-2-3 inning and no runs. Not a good way to start a softball game. However, the unicorns rallied. Turk, Pitch, and Legend got consecutive hits to plate a run.
Then the Bassmaster got up with two ducks on the pond and delivered a huge two out hit getting two RBIs. This would not be the last time two and Bassmasster will be uttered in the same sentence. Another highlight was a slide back to second which jarred the ball loose from the fielder. CNA went into full out whine mode on this one. What is it with the Unicorns that turn other grown up teams into little babies?
CNA’s lead off dude was soon on second and they were threatening. A pop up was hit to T-Bear. He flipped it to Bassmaster who missed the ball allowing the guy back to 2nd who was in danger of being doubled up after straying too far.
Did Bassmaster cry and hold her head in shame over the missed ball. Hell no, in fact redemption came immediately with a ground ball to our star 2nd basewoman who tagged the runner and fired to 2nd and got a double play keeping the runner at third from scoring.
This would be a theme of the game. Normally when Unicorns screw up it leads to more screw ups and big innings and close losses. We seem to either win big or not at all. We always fall short in the close games. Not today though as after every mistake someone would step up.
CNA was undefeated and the number 1 seed and they would not go quietly. They scored 4 runs in the 2nd to take a 4-3 lead. The Unicorns tied it in the 3rd with another Bassmaster RBI and took the lead in the 4th. T-Bear made two outs to start the game, but got back on track with a single scoring a run in the 4th and ending up at third thanks to an errant CNA throw. Bauer then drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
Pitch was in her usual form, although she did walk a guy with two straight balls, which led to an automatic walk by the following girl. She made up for it though by striking out a dude with an arc that actually reached the same height as the Buckingham fountain. When it finally landed, I think the pitch sailed in the air for 2 minutes, the ump screamed strike three. This was another instance of the Unicorns minimizing mistakes and keeping the bleeding to a minimum.
The game stayed tight as the Unicorns and CNA traded runs. We gave away two runs on catches that could have been made and went into the 7th with a precarious one run lead. I could easily imagine them scoring two runs in the last frame in walk-off fashion and being disappointed again with another 1 run loss.
However, the 7th inning became are bright shining moment and when you are pink and a unicorn there are many moments bright and shiny, but not as pink, bright, and shiny as this one. Once again Legend led the way with yet another hit. He has been 8-9 in the last two games ever since his epic nickname redeeming Unicorn home run heard around the world that saved us from possible playoff elimination.
Legend smashed another base hit. Then came the play that sealed CNA’s fate. Bassmaster hit a fly ball to the outfield and Legend was in danger of being picked off for a double play. In fact he strayed too far and was most likely an easy out if the throw was online.
Instead, the outfielder air mailed the throw and in this league an overthrow leads to two bases for some strange reason and instead of two out and nobody on it was one out with Legend at third. Once again this decision from the ump led to a cacophony of CNA whines, sobs, and cries. If we would not have scored in this inning the game would have gone into extra innings.
Juice then came through with a big base hit, every hit is huge in the 7th with a tiny one run lead. With two outs Smores also came through with a huge hit scoring Juice. It was now 9-6 as we were getting much needed insurance.
Then came the moment we all knew would happen. It was time for Sparky to come through and ignite us to victory. That she did with a hit up the middle that the midfielder was unable to corral the ball cleanly and an aware Smores beat the force at 2nd.
T-Bear was now up with a chance to make them pay for their errors. Finally he was able to place a ball down the first base line scoring Smores. Unfortunately, the inning ended there with Legend interference at third base. He was the third base coach.
Apparently Sparky came off the bag and made contact with the coach, so she was called out. I did not see the play, but I have a couple of theories on what transpired. One theory was that Sparky got scared at third base, women sometimes do, and came off the bag and needed a hug from Legend.
Another possibility is we all know Sparky’s propensity to wander off the bag into la-la land. It is like she is already drinking post game margaritas and she loses focus on where she is. Perhaps Legend knew this and shook her to wake her up from her reverie. The most obvious reason was she just wanted some Legend love and saw that big lug right off third base and she could not control herself.
We may never know what actually happened over there, but we were up 10-6 going into the final inning. Things looked good as long as we kept our composure.
The first guy hit a sinking liner to right field. Juice got a great read on the ball and made a shoe string catch for the all important first out. Then a looping liner was secured by T-Bear for two outs. The game was in the bag now. Only one more out to go.
CNA temporarily delayed the celebration with a prodigious home run to make it 10-7. The next pitch was grounded up the middle and it was snatched by Pitch who made her patented underhand throw to Bauer and the game was over. I could think of no better way to end our biggest victory ever as we have seen this type of out over and over again thanks to the great pitching and fast reflexes of our star pitcher.
The celebration was on as the Magical Flying Unicorns made an improbable run to even make it to the playoffs overcoming diabetes, pulled hamstrings, inconvenient work schedules, Tiger games, an ugly team wide mid season offensive recession, and even a bee sting to come back and make the playoffs and knock of Goliath.
This game was great because it was a true team victory as everyone contributed. Pitch won career game 567 and the Unicorns make their 2nd championship.
The guys hit like guys and the girls contributed too. During our mid season coma the guys got a lot of heat for going 1-4 and 0-4, but the girls were not doing much either. In this game everyone hit well. Turk was 3-3 with a walk, Legend, Juice, and Smores were all 3-4 and T-Bear was 2-5.
The girls were equally competent with Bassmaster getting 3 two out RBIs early in the game that were huge, Pitch was on base twice, and the Jackie/Sparky combo was 2-4. Jackie hit a beautiful shot down the third base line and Sparky came through like she always does when we need it most despite the Legend hug.
The post game celebration was raucous with team shotguns and T-Bear partied with three generations (his dad and his mean an ornery Ole Granddad, although the unicorn flask has a way of calming my granddad).
Post game shout outs go to T-Bear who crashed both parties. He drank with the Cactus club crowd and the renegade Unicorns that defied protocol and bolted north. This could could lead to fracture with some teams because the team that parties together wins together. However, the Unicorns are lucky to have T-bear with a strong will and liver who bridged both party locations bringing team peace and stability.