And likewise or at least by analogy, if Coach Willis were otherwise King Jeff III during game 1 and the opening at-bats of game 2 in the current NJCAA Division II world series, his plea of desperation would likely have been “My kingdom for a two-out hit!” I don’t have the stat sheet before me, but I believe the Bengals LOB (left on base) total for game 1 was 12; then for the first two at-bats in game 2, clutchless hitters left goose-eggs on the scoreboard after leaving 5 base runners standing on bags around the infield.
I was starting to wonder if a fitting nickname for this team was the “LOB Squad.” The propensity to fail delivery of timely hits with runners in scoring position, often contributing to missed opportunities for burying and putting away opponents, had been a smudge mark on this gang’s otherwise sparkling record of achievement during the season. And, like so many other contests during the season when clutch hits were scarce, the game 1 offensive performance made the team appear wobbly and uncertain, sitting ducks indeed, for similar disaster and loss to that King Richard faced in his helpless estate.
But salute the Bengals. They did what they had to do in game 1 to leave the field with a walk-off, one-run squeaky win in the bottom of the ninth. Better yet, more potent bats sprang to life after the wobbly start in game two as they put a few crooked numbers on the line score that added up to a more dominant-looking 9-1 tally (against the impressive #4 ranked team in the nation).
Early surprises in the first two games, to me, are the home runs. This team’s average for the season was less than .5 homers per game, but in the Series where the windy ball park and the better-than-average pitching opposition would seemlingly work against the demonstration of power, three batters (Powell, Thibodeaux, and Trosclair) have mashed ‘taters. Furthermore, all three homers came at critical times in the games–they were dramatic, “get the job done” hits, back-breaking, crushing blows that mightily demoralized the opposition.
So offensively, have we made it from LOB to JOB (as in “get the JOB done)? Hopefully, that’s the indication that will play out as we move on to game 3 tomorrow night. If the quality pitching in the first two games holds up, and this JOB squad starts to show up in the batter’s box, I’m convinced that this team will roll and that they WILL prevail.
Let’s not say we smell a national championship just yet. But the Bengals and their fans know exactly what national championship smells like, and no one will be surprised if we don’t start sensing the fragrance in the spring breeze before the week’s over.
But to make that happen, JOB squad, “Do your JOB!”