The 27th Out is the Hardest to Get

Baseball is a funny game.  You can do things so perfectly and square up a line drive, only to have it easily caught by an outfielder, and you can look so badly on a swing, and hit a blooper that falls safely for a hit.  It is a game of inches and near misses.  Perhaps most of the most dynamic features of baseball, however, is that there is no clock.  The only “time” constraint in the game is that 27 outs must be recorded for a game to be complete.

After Lake Elsinore had recorded 24 outs tonight, we found ourselves on the short-end of a 3-0 score and staring our fourth straight loss in the face entering the bottom of the ninth.  After a few batters, we found ourselves with runners at first and second with one out.  A ground ball is hit, almost surely a double-play ball.  However, Julio Perez is able to beat out the tail end of the play, leaving runners at first and third with two outs.  Twenty-six down, one to go.

Entering the box was Clay Fuller.  It is no secret Fuller has been struggling of late, but that will not keep him from taking the at bat.  Baseball is unforgiving; you will take your at bats with whatever you have that night, regardless of whether you are confident in your swing or doubting your ability to put the ball in play.  So after going hitless in his first three at-bats, Fuller ties the game with a three-run homerun to right-center field.  Twenty-seven outs would not be enough to decide this contest.

After escaping a two-out Lake Elsinore double in the top of the tenth, we headed to the bottom half of the frame with continued optimism.  With two on and two outs in the bottom of the tenth, Rian Kiniry stepped in the box.  Having come in the game hitting under .200, Kiniry was in the midst of a strong 3-for-4 performance and looking to cap off the comeback.  After working the count and swinging through two pitches, he sealed the Storm’s demise and completed the comeback with a walk-off single to right field.

Longtime Baltimore Orioles manager, Earl Weaver, called baseball the greatest game because, “You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance.”  Looking at this game through eight and a half innings, you could argue that we had no business winning tonight’s game.  However, Lake Elsinore had to give us our chance to prevent them from recording all 27 outs.  We proved tonight that until the 27th out is made, there always exists the opportunity to be surprised.

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