Dubbed the “Columbia River Meltdown” by many of the local baseball aficionados, Ptown’s 8-3 loss to the underdog potato farmers from the Pacific Northwest was a shock to everyone but the kids from Idaho. The boys quickly felt the weight of this potentially costly defeat, as they faced the specter of not making it out of pool play, with a lone game left on their four-game slate against an undefeated Hawaii team.
The Western Region Junior tournament of 2014 was proving to be a grouping of “Have” and “Have Nots” as there were six teams with one or less loss after four days of play, and five other teams largely eliminated from the tournament. With 2 days remaining of pool play, six teams were fighting for 4 playoff spots. While the Friday loss didn’t eliminate Ptown, it certainly tested their resolve as the reality for these 14-year old boys that they weren’t invincible was a big blow to their young egos.
However, their coaches, led by Dave Lander, Bob. Kaufman, and Eric Benson, used the loss as a teaching moment, and found light where there seemed so little. A Saturday win against the team from Ewa Beach, Hawaii had to be expected by the boys, and the coaches worked furiously into the early Saturday morning watching game film and playing with different lineup and pitching scenarios. The foundations of confidence can disturbed by the slightest erosion at the base, but come Saturday morning, it was obvious that this team wouldn’t allow a random bump in the soil to affect how firmly their feet would bury into the Columbia River shoreline field.
A loss to Hawaii would include a one-way ticket back to Pleasanton, and a heavy feeling of unfulfilled promise. A win, and all prior transgressions could be erased. It would be a tough battle, and one not to be miss. You’ll learn in my next post what happened on that Saturday afternoon against Hawaii.