My thumb rubbed against the smooth surface of the ball as I rotated it clockwise in my right hand; the rough seams a source of friction against my fingers. My throwing arm rested on my lower back as I leaned in towards home to get the sign from the catcher.
Acknowledging him with a nod, I glanced over my left shoulder at the runner. He had a decent lead off first, but I knew he was not gifted with quickness so I let him be. Standing up straight and bringing my hands together in the set position, I gave one more quick glance at the runner out of the corner of my eye. My throwing hand gripped the ball tightly inside my glove, my pointer and middle fingers running along each of the two seams.
I picked up my left foot up quickly and delivered home. The batter swung with all his might and missed.
Pop! The ball smacked the leather of the catcher’s mitt.
Frustrated at his whiff, the batter put his head down and stepped out of the batter’s box with his front foot. He looked down the line at his third base coach to see if there would be any signal. The coach stood motionless with his arms crossed. There were two outs. It was the top of the ninth. They were down two. A home-run would tie it. He needed a hit at the very least.
He stepped back into the box and brought the label of the bat up in front of his face. He then leaned over slightly to tap the outside corner of the plate and gauge his ability to reach the outside corner. Feeling that he was in a good position, he pulled the bat up and rested it on his shoulder for a second. Then he lifted it slightly and began to rotate the bat in a circular motion as he awaited the pitch.
The count was now no balls, two strike. The catcher suggested a curve. The batter expects me to throw some junk with such a low count I thought. I shook him off until I saw the single finger. I nodded. I wanted to throw the heat.
Paying no attention to the runner, I came set and quickly delivered. The batter noticed the fast ball a bit too late and wasn’t able to catch up. He hit only air as he whipped the bat around his back. Again, the ball smacked firmly into the catcher’s mitt.
I pumped my fist as I reveled in the shouts of victory coming from my dugout. The catcher jumped up and ran out to hug me. Not needing to say anything as everyone knew the batter had struck out and the game was over, the umpire calmly walked off the field. Another save was in the books.