My Wiffleball Weekend
Me, Brian, and our secret weapon, John "Veeno" Vogel arrived at "The American Children's Home" in Lexington, bright and early at 8:00am on Saturday. We were greeted by 15 other teams made up of over 60 players seeking the most coveted prize in NC wiffleball competition, the Eastern World Series Championship. As we surveyed our competition, there were teams made up of high school kids, guys decked out in their baseball / softball uniforms, old guys, a few girls, and some weekend warriors like ourselves who just rolled out of bed and decided to see what our bodies were still capable of. After going over the rules with everyone, the championship director pulled names from a hat to see which teams would play who first. Our first opponents were "The Slammers" at 9:15am. Our team name was "Ghost Man On Second" in tribute to the "ghost man" rules of wiffleball.
Since our first game wasn't until the second round of competition (they had 4 fields so only 8 teams could play at a time) we took advantage of our time to take in some batting practice off to the side. John had never played wiffleball before and Brian was going to pitch all of our games so we focused on letting John warm up hitting and Brian getting his arm loose. I'm not shy in saying after watching us warm up, I wouldn't have been surprised if we lost every game we played.
9:15 came and we took our spots on the field. We flipped a coin to see who would be home team and we won. After the first inning (4 innings is a game)we were tied 0-0. In the second, The Slammers lived up to their name as one of the guys hit a 3-run homer. I blame myself for it. I was playing the outfield and when the ball was hit, I jumped for it about a foot to early. The ball hit the tips of my fingers and went over the fence. After 2 innings, we were down 3-0. The top of the 3rd went pretty quickly and we knew we had to put some runs on the board in our half of the 3rd. We decided to be a bit more aggressive with our hitting and it paid off. We scored 3 runs that inning capped by Brian's 2-run homer. We went into the last inning tied 3-3. That's when the wheels fell off. The Slammers got some solid hits and when it was all said and done, they had scored 4 in the top of the forth to lead 7-3. We finished out our last at bat quietly and walked away frustrated at what could have been. Slammers 7 GMOS 3
Our next game was immediately after at 10:00am. Our opponents were "Called out for Christ". Again we won the coin flip and were the home team. We decided our strategy would be a bit different this time around. Instead of waiting for the game to come to us, we would jump on the pitcher early and be a lot more aggressive on the base pads. Our plan worked to perfection. We beat them 14-0. Brian was the MVP of the game as he struck out 9 of the 12 batters he faced and hit his second home run of the day. GMOS 14 Called Out 0
Once every team had played 2 games, the director then seeded everyone in a 16 team playoff. He used some kind of formula based on record, runs scored, and runs allowed. Once the seedings were set, we found ourselves as the 4th seed! We then had a lunch break which included a devotion where everyone went into the church's auditorium and heard a guest speaker. It was pretty cool. This tournament and the ones before it are a ministry of Lexington Community Church. They have the land and a passion for wiffleball and they have found a way to use it as a very effective outreach. Kudos to them for thinking outside the box.
The way they had the tournament set up, the first round of the "sweet 16" was best 2 of 3, meaning we had to beat the same team twice to advance to the next round. The team we played called themselves "Speed Racers". They were by far the largest team in the tournament with 6 players each getting some playing time in the games. You can only have 3 players in the field but up to 5 can bat. They were all decked out in their baseball/softball gear complete with cleats and cups. (I'm not sure about the cup part but John claimed he saw one. You'll have to ask him why he was looking) Our first game against them was close but we came out on top. It looked scary at first when they jumped out to a 4-0 lead after their first at bat, but we answered with 6 runs of our own in the bottom of the first to take the lead. After that, is was all Brian. No one scored again. GMOS 6 Racers 4
The second game began much like the first, with racers taking a quick 5-1 lead. In the bottom of the 3rd we said lets put this game away and that exactly what we did. I led off the inning with a solo homer then John followed it up with a 2-run inside the park home run. When it was over we had taken a 7-5 lead. After a small rally in the top of the 4th, Brian closed the deal and we advanced to the final 8. GMOS 7 Racers 6
In the "elite eight" we were facing a team called D&D. They were by far the best team we had played all day. It was obvious that they had played wiffle ball a lot together before by they way they played the field and batted. We on the other hand were spent. Brian had thrown almost 20 inning and over 300 pitches. His arm was jello. This is where having a 4th player would have helped. John and I tried our best to carry the team but it wasn't to be. The better team won and I'm not ashamed to say it. D&D 11 GMOS 1
Once it was all finished, Brian and I agreed that it really felt good to be back on the wiffleball field again. I wish Kipp could have been there but it was great to find our new 4th player in Veeno. He held is own and had some really nice plays and key hits. Brian was just as strong as he always was. His pitching was the talk of the tournament. If we had played at least once in the last 2 years then I believe Brian would have been unhitable. And for a 32 year old guy, I feel I didn't do much to embarrass myself either. I made some pretty good plays in the outfield and the home run felt nice. We all agreed on the way home that this wouldn't be our last tournament, but our first of many more to come. The church that sponsored it said the next one will be in 1-3 months. Next time, "Ghost Man On Second" well be ready! Long live the Ghost!