(this could also be posted under "The Demise of High School Baseball?")
Quick overview. Freshman son placed on JV team to start the season, along with three other freshman. JV is half Juniors, rest Sophomores and the four freshman. Often, the four freshman would be at C, P, SS, 2B at the same time. Team won about half its preseason tournament games, and all its district games. Many shutouts, and occasional errorless games. Good team. Kids got along great. Son met a bunch of new guys, became friends. The juniors would come and pick him and the other freshman up for pregame meals, etc. Parents in the stands all got along great. Kid was starting pitcher about every third game, more or less. Only two games a week here in regular season.
Son and another freshman were called up to the varsity for playoffs. Coach has coached 32 years as a varsity head coach. I hear he is old school, wouldn't know for sure, he doesn't talk to parents about baseball. Nice cordial guy, though. "Pitching depth" the two freshman were told. Team has a couple of stud jr starters - one of them is a D1 commit, a curveball closer and that's about it. But son got to ride the bus, he was thrilled. He got to pitch to the varsity lineup in practice each week. He warmed up several times in games. Team won the first series in three games using only three pitchers. Same in the second series, beating the #1 team in Texas (by one poll, PG had them as the 26th in nation - no idea how they can rank that many teams like that).
Third series was against what I think was a better all round team then the team we beat in the second series. From pitching to line-up, they looked more talented to me. First game, our usually very reliable starter and defense came unglued, we got behind 7-0 in the third. With a runner on third and a 2-0 count, they bring in my son. So first varsity pitch comes in the third round of the state playoffs. And it's a change-up, bounced, blocked and smothered. Son walks him on next pitch. Runner scores on a groundout. He gets the next hitter to end the inning. Goes out for the fourth, HBP, K, BB, K, BB, goes to 2-1 on the hitter, throws a ball. Batter thinks it's ball four and starts to jog to first. Runners hesitate, then start to jog to the next base. Son throws over and gets the pick off. Thank you baseball gods. Coach told son after the game that he looked 86/87 on a couple of them. That's a tick or two over what he has been gunned. Next freshman comes in, gets hit a little, and error or so for a couple runs, but throws two innings. Game ends. Down 0-1.
Next night, opponent throws the #1 RHP in nation in 2019 class. We throw our D1 guy. Maybe 800 people at the HS field. It sizzled all night long. You could hear it from behind the backstop. There guy up to 93, our guy looked low 90's, but someone said touched 94. (Can't verify that.) Our guy was a little shaky in the beginning with command, and gave up three runs. We get one run, but run up the pitch count on their guy. He comes out. Down 3-1 going to the last inning. We get a walk and an error, they get two outs. The next three batters go down to the final strike, but all three come through with hits. We go up 5-3, and then close them out in the bottom of the 7th. Go even at 1-1.
Next day bats come out, we win 8-3. Son and other freshman ate up some pitches, we had enough pitching to finish them off.
So three times, I have picked up my son from the school after the game. Three times we both said "That's the most exciting game I have ever played/watched!"
Fourth round starts Thursday at University of Houston.
From here, only demise may be me with a heart attack!