During the upcoming week, Gilbert and I were slated to pitch on Friday at Utuado against the Montaneses (Mountains). Utuado is a municipality of Puerto Rico located closer to the center of the island and was about a two-hour drive from Rincon. We arrived at the stadium close to the 7:30 game time, and the crowd was growing larger as the time ticked towards the first pitch.
I was starting the game on the hill and felt well-rested and ready to go. After my last outing, I had a lot of confidence and knew I could pitch my game and attempt to be successful. After The Turistas were blanked in a quick first inning, I was jogging from the dugout to the mound to toe the rubber.
As prepared and self-assured as I felt before stepping on the mound, what happened during the course of the game was still out of my control. After a few tough plays that turned into errors, I was running off the field having given up two unearned runs in the first inning.
My defense and I settled in after that, and I threw up zeros in the next three innings. We put up four runs in the fourth inning to take the lead 4-2. For as badly as our team was playing, we were still ahead leading into the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, I got two quick outs and was facing one of the Montaneses’ heavy hitters. With two strikes, I ran a two-seam fastball inside to the righty, and he put a good swing on it sending a flyball into left field. What I thought was a routine fly ball kept carrying and eventually landed on the other side of the fence. I couldn’t believe it went out, but the base umpire told me that was his third home run in his last three games. I guess it made me feel a little better that I wasn’t the only one to allow a bomb to the guy.
I was done pitching after the fifth inning, and our team was ahead 4-3. My final stat line was five innings, three hits, one earned run, three strikeouts and zero walks.
Gilbert relieved me in the sixth inning and ran into some bad luck with a few cheap hits and untimely errors. He allowed four runs in the inning, and The Turistas failed to score for the rest of the game ultimately losing 7-4.
Even though we were defeated, the team morale on the ride home was happy and carefree. Despite the loss, we were still on a tropical island doing the thing we all love most…playing baseball.