Crowds of parents and fans were on hand at Youth Sports Inc. April 24 for an evening of DCABA baseball. Nobody paid attention to the rain clouds as the Comets and Panthers locked their focus on the 10U DCABA game at hand. At the finish, the Panthers secured a 19-3 victory and the once-blue sky had filled with clouds waiting to burst loose.
The Panthers struck first with a huge first inning. Leadoff hitter Noah Huston walked, then Comets pitcher Matthew Siler struck out the next batter to bring up Panthers pitcher P.J. Budenbendur. His groundout scored Huston from third to start the scoring.
"We really hit the ball well today," Budenbendur said. "This is our first season as a team and we just want to play smart."
They certainly found the right pitches to hit in the first inning as Connor Henrichs, Tyler Kappele and Narito Mendes connected for three straight RBI hits ending the inning on the the seven-run rule.
The Comets got on the board in the second when Siler smacked a single, then proceed to steal both second and third base. Siler came around to score on a sacrifice from Jackson Reed before Budenbendur ended the inning striking out his second batter of the inning.
Henrichs' hot bat scorched another pitch nearly to the wall, which scored Budenbendur as Henrichs circled the bases for a two-run in-the-park homer with two outs in the bottom of the second. Much like the first inning, the Panthers rallied with two outs to score a handful of runs before giving up their bats for their gloves.
"We just really don't want to lose," Panther catcher Kappele said.
After two big innings to start the game, it was safe to say that the Panthers weren't going to let that happen on this particular evening of baseball. The Comets threatened in the top of the third scoring two runs to make the score 11-3. It wouldn't be enough, as the Panthers would cut the scoring short at three runs while continuing to cross home plate themselves.
"It's tough to lose, but we did some good things today," Comets center fielder Brennan Occhipinto said. "We got some really good hits, but just didn't score enough."
While the Panthers blanked the Comets in each of the last two innings, they added six more runs to make it official after five innings of play. The Comets players kept their heads high and maintained that, in their second season playing together, things would come around offensively and defensively.
"We'll just work on our pitching and catching," Comets right fielder Reed said. "Don't worry, we'll be on ESPN by the end of the season."
ESPN may be a lofty goal, but the Comets were filled with optimism in the face of the big defeat against the Panthers. Even the rain clouds begging to empty wouldn't deter the Comets players from looking forward to their next chance on the field.