When the guys fell behind 2-1 in the top of the 8th, I began resigning myself to the cruel hand of fate. Cruel because too many times in this game, the Bengals had pulled off dazzling defensive plays to get out of tight jams, and they even accomplished a brazen, almost unthinkable steal of home to tie the game in the third by cleanup hitter Drew Forbes, one ordinarily known for a spunky bat much more than base stealing prowess. So at several points during this particularly hard-fought, tenuous contest, including Drew’s steal of home, I sensed that charm was on the Bengals’ side and that we would break it open: only a matter of time.
So losing the lead in the top of the eighth really was dismaying, especially as the NJCAA TV announcer billed the closer coming on for Scottsdale as the top closer in the country during 2012. Landon Thibodeaux had weasled a two-out walk from the Scottsdale starter, a guy who’d pitched a whale of a game, and needing only four outs to clinch, odds looked pretty good for the Scottsdale Fighting Artichokes. Anyway, here comes “Mr. Closer” with his microscopic ERA and a gaudy tally of something like 17 or 19 saves. I don’t think this fellow had blown a save all season.
Not that I didn’t believe in Stuart Turner, the first batter “Mr. Closer” would deal with, but gosh, the odds just didn’t look too good: two outs, the tying run not even in scoring position, and besides, we needed two-out clutch hits all game long, but not a one ever fell in. Why would I suppose the big hit would come now with “Mr. Closer” ably manning the fire hose to put the game away for Scottsdale, as he evidently had done all season long? And besides, two outs and a runner on first didn’t look like much of a fire for “Mr. Closer” to put out, given his impressive resume.
Well, Dave, ye of little faith! Home town Eunice boy Stu Turner stunned the Artichoke nation with a stormy blast over the left-center field fence that established the Bengals first lead of the game, 3-2. That score stood as the Bengals swapped closer roles in the top of the ninth: Our guys got the job done, and the ‘chokes got to save some money on motel rent by going home a few days early.
(‘Chokes? Aptly named? Ooh, not to be cruel!)
True, this was one of those games where somebody had to lose, and what a pity. But the game was also rewarding to Bengal fans, in a sense, in that the Bengals avenged a loss to this same Scottsdale team that sent the Bengals home early a couple of years ago in the Series.
So we live on to play another day. Who will dispense the magic the next time out?