Mayfield Magic

Chapter 14-Grand Salami Time

<Honda Odyssey>
The ride home from Longview started out being a quiet one, but it didn’t take long for the four boys and Larry to talk about the Goats’ crushing defeat. Aiden, Rusty, Nolan, and Cal were the four traveling back to Mayfield with Larry. Aiden and Rusty were the only two who had played in the game. Nolan and Cal would become full-fledged Goats at Saturday's practice.
Nolan could have ridden home with his father or mother who went to the game in separate cars since Paul traveled from Mayfield and Vivian, who worked that day, drove down from Centralia. Nolan was surprised his mother attended the game since he wasn’t playing, but he soon saw that there was more to her attending the game than just watching baseball. His mother was a mover and shaker, and she wanted to get to know the other Mayfield mothers. The mothers she spent the most time with were Leslie Hazen, the twins’ mother, and Martha Hallion, Trent’s mother and the coach’s wife.  When she learned that Leslie was a Mayfield Baseball Club board member, that piqued her interest, and of course the coach’s wife would know a lot about how things worked in Mayfield. In essence, Vivian Moyer was learning what she needed to know in order to become involved in supporting Mayfield sports, doing things that ranged from supplying post game snacks, to arranging banquets, to helping run fund raisers. Leslie and Martha were both pleased to learn her desire to be of help. Every bit of help they could get as involved parents was appreciated. While he would never admit it publicly (except to Aiden), Nolan was proud of his mother’s involvement.  
Rusty, on the other hand, had ridden to the game with Max and his parents, but wanted to return with Aiden. He could have ridden home with his mother, but she was okay with him riding with Aiden. Today was Rusty’s thirteenth birthday, but he and his mother would celebrate it on Friday.
There were things Rusty wanted to say to Aiden before the next day’s game(s) and he thought the best way to do it was on the ride home. He knew nobody on the team was riding home with Aiden, but he had forgotten to take Nolan and Cal into account.  He really wanted to talk to Aiden, and he didn’t know what to do about it.
“Hey, Rusty, Happy Birthday,” Aiden told him as they settled into the car.
“How did you know? I never told anybody?” Rusty was flabbergasted that Aiden knew it was his birthday, but he was also pleased that he took the time to congratulate him.
“I have my spies.” In this case his spy was Rusty’s mother. After telling Rusty he could ride home with Aiden, she sought out Aiden and told him it was Rusty’s birthday. She knew her son tended to keep things to himself, but she liked Aiden a great deal and liked that the popular boy was helping to bring her son out of his shell.
“Whatever. Thanks for taking the time for the Happy Birthday wish.”
“It’s what friends do.”
“Well, you calling me a friend is a great birthday present for me. Thanks a zillion and thanks for being my friend.”
Aiden scooted over and gave his friend a kiss on the cheek.
Cal and Nolan each gave Rusty a birthday greeting as did Larry. Rusty felt happy the entire ride home.
“I liked what Gordy had to say,” Nolan said as the boys warmed up to conversing. Nolan and Cal had sat in the bleachers behind the team meeting taking in everything that was said. They were members of the team after all.
“I liked that Gordy said something in a meeting. It was even better because what he said was so cool,” Aiden said.
“What did he say?” Larry asked.
“He talked about our last loss to Clark Pass in the last league game. And then said that our next four games were all do-or-die games, and we won all four. And now that we lost today, that both games tomorrow are do-or-die games,” Nolan answered. Everyone in the van noticed Nolan using first person when describing the games. They loved it because it meant that Nolan was really working at being part of the team.
“You guys seem to perform well when your back is to the wall,” Larry noted.
“And we’ll play even better tomorrow,” Rusty said, surprising Aiden. Like Gordy, Rusty usually didn’t say much, and when he did it was usually to back up Max’s complaints.
“That’s the way to talk,” Aiden grinned. He was surprised when Rusty had asked for a ride home, since he usually rode with his mom or with Max and his family. He had decided not to ride with his mom or Max and Aiden didn’t know why.
“Is your mother going to be able to make tomorrow’s games?” Larry asked.
“Yep. She asked for the afternoon off and got it, and even if she didn’t, she said she’d be able to make our second game if it was going to be played.”
Aiden chose not to ask Rusty why he didn’t ride with Max and his family. When they arrived at Rusty’s house, Rusty asked Aiden if he could ask him a quick question in private. Larry nodded his approval. Aiden was going to tell Rusty something before he left, so now they could trade thoughts.  Aiden exited the van with Rusty.
“I suppose you’re wondering why I rode home with you guys,” Rusty said.
“Well, yeah, I admit I’ve been wondering about it,” Aiden responded.
“I wanted to talk to you about something and I forgot Nolan and Cal would be riding with you.”
“Well, Nolan was going to ride home with his dad, but decided to be with me because we lost the game. I guess we all are going to have to get used to having Calvin around. So, what did you want to talk about?”
“It’ll take a little bit of time, so do you think we could meet tomorrow?”
“Cal and Nolan will be there and some of the other guys on the team might come by. And I was going to invite you over when we got to your house, but you asked me to talk to you first. So, that said, come over around eleven tomorrow. My dad already made some of his famous sandwiches and lemonade for us, so be there any time after eleven.”
“Cool, thanks, I’ll be there. And I’ll get a chance to talk, right?”
“For sure. And a couple more things. No swimming or hard exercise stuff but it’s okay to go into the pool. And it’s clothing optional.”
“I figured that much,” Rusty grinned. Aiden had given him yet one more birthday present.
Aiden and Rusty traded fist bumps and Aiden re-entered the van. “Rusty will be coming tomorrow.”
“Good,” Larry said. “He needs to get a bit more involved with the team, especially before the big trip next week.”
Larry was soon pulling into his driveway. Paul pulled in right behind him.
“I’m glad you followed us dad,” Nolan said after exiting the van. “I was worried you might get lost in the dark or something. You never know how old age could get you all confused.”
“It’s good to know that you’re properly concerned,” Paul responded. “Now get into the car so you can give me directions for the rest of the trip home.”
Nolan grinned as he traded a fist bump with Cal and a hug with Aiden.
After enjoying a snack of cookies and hot chocolate, Aiden and Cal said goodnight to Larry and Phil and went upstairs.
“Can I give you a good night hug?” Cal asked Aiden when they stepped into the guest room.
“You know it,” Aiden said.
They exchanged a long hug. It was all Aiden could do to not ask Cal if he wanted to exchange a kiss, too. For now, the hug was good enough, especially since Cal was a good hugger. The hug gave both boys a jolt of sexual energy.
Aiden got ready for bed, said his gratitude prayer, and set Horace beside him under the covers. He felt that Cal was not only going to be a positive member of the Goats, but he was also going to be a good friend.
Cal was so turned on by his hug with Aiden that he had to jerk off before falling asleep. He closed his eyes and fell asleep wishing he was playing the next day.
<Aiden’s house>
Aiden awoke just after 9:15. Before heading for the shower, he texted Marty a question he had forgotten to ask during their conversation the day before. “Marty, if I pitch the second game what do I do to block out the first game and focus on the second game?” He hit send and quickly jumped into the shower.
After finishing he dressed in a Seattle Mariners t-shirt and a pair of gym shorts. He started out of his room at the same time Calvin came out of the guestroom. He was dressed in a pair of black and white checked boxers.
“Hey, good morning, Cal,” Aiden grinned.
“Hey. Is it okay if I take a shower?” Cal responded.
“Of course, it is. I left a washcloth and towel on the chair.”
“Oh, yeah, I saw those last night and forgot. What’s going to happen now?”
“I’m gonna help my pop get a French toast breakfast going. Then we wait for whoever shows up.”
“Sounds good. I love French toast. I’ll see ya in a few.” Cal turned around and went back into the guestroom to get his towel. Aiden headed downstairs to tell Larry that he and Cal were almost ready for breakfast.
With Aiden and Larry working together it didn’t take long to get a breakfast of French toast and bacon cooked up. Aiden also prepared a fresh fruit bowl for him and Cal. Cal came down wearing a Seahawks t-shirt and shorts. Aiden had elected not to tell Cal that it wasn’t unusual for him and his overnight friends to enjoy eating breakfast in the nude. He figured that could wait for another time, like Saturday morning.
“It’s good to have you here,” Larry said as the boys sat down to eat. He had already eaten his breakfast.
“It’s good to be here,” Cal responded. “I think me and Aiden are already getting to be good friends and teammates. I’m happy I’ll be a Goat for a couple of weeks.” Cal then fought hard to suppress a grin and looked directly into Aiden’s eyes. “But that don’t mean you’ll be getting any breaks from me next year. Clark Pass will rule.”
“Only in your dreams,” Aiden retorted before shoving a forkful of French toast into his mouth.
“What’s really weird is Nolan is not only gonna be a Goat for a couple of weeks, but then he’s going to be a Titan after that.”
“Thank goodness for that.”
After finishing breakfast, the boys cleared the dining room and then went down to the games room to play a game of something. That game ended up being darts since they could stop any time.
Aiden wasn’t surprised that Nolan was the first to arrive. “Hey, everybody. It’s a nice day for a baseball game. How come you guys are still dressed?” Nolan said.
“We were waiting for you to show us how things were done,” Aiden answered.
“What’s wrong with how I’m dressed?” Cal asked.
Nolan replied by pulling off his shirt and taking off his shorts and boxers. “This is the proper way to dress at Aiden’s house,” Nolan replied.
Cal’s eyes widened as he admired Nolan’s naked body. His hanging cock and thick pubic hair impressed him as did his beautiful muscle definition. “But not for breakfast, right?” Cal finally asked.
“Even for breakfast,” Aiden answered. “I just didn’t know how you’d feel about it, especially being naked in front of my pop. And just so you know, nobody here has to do anything. The rule is no means no. So, even if everybody is naked and you think you’d rather be dressed in a tee and shorts, then that’s the proper way to dress.”
“I like it. But I got one problem.”
“What’s that?” Aiden asked, although he was certain he knew the answer.
“Um…, I’ve, you know, got a boner.” Cal’s face turned bright red as he answered.
“Well, here’s what we all say about that: ‘Everybody gets boners.’”
“Okay, cool.” Since Aiden told him his condition was okay, he approached taking his clothes off with the same calculated coolness he showed on the pitching mound. He quickly undressed not showing any embarrassment about displaying his naked body and hard cock.
Aiden and Nolan both gave him a long look and liked what they saw. The twelve-year-old had a nicely shaped, cut, four-inch erection. He had a smattering of brown pubic hairs on both sides of his cock. Otherwise, his body was completely smooth. He was a boy who was obviously in excellent physical condition.
Aiden, who’d had a crush on Cal from the first time he’d noticed him during the middle school season, felt his cock build to a full erection. “My boyfriend likes you,” Nolan told Cal.
“Is that good or bad?”
“It’s good. You should feel honored.”
“Oh, I do, I do,” Cal grinned.
The session between the two boys was interrupted by the doorbell ringing. Before Aiden could run up the basement stairs to see who it was, Gordy, Miles, and Mason started down the stairs.
“Geez, Aiden, do you always have a boner?” Mason asked.
“Like you’re one to talk,” Aiden grinned. “I only get one when I see cute boys.”
“Like cute boys from Clark Pass who don’t mind showing off their boners?”
“Yep. Exactly like those.”
The three new arrivals were soon undressed, and all six boys headed outside to the pool area. The temperature was up to 75, which was comfortably warm for 11am on a Mayfield summer day. The temperature was predicted to push 80 degrees.
Aiden and Cal both lost their erections when they dipped into the pool. The only one who really wanted to see more was Mason. After his view of Cal’s wares, he was determined to suck his cock before his role as a Yard Goat ended. Mason, however, was now mature enough to know that game day was not a good sex day since everybody wanted to store their energy for the game.
Grant, Riley, and the twins were the next to show. They quickly stripped. Just as Aiden wondered if Rusty was going to show, he came down the stairs and out to the pool. He elected not to get naked and sat on a lounge chair to observe his teammates. Knowing the rules of the house, nobody gave him any flack.
The boys had fun playing catch with a baseball size rubber ball. Rusty got out of his chair and took part from the pool patio. The time soon came for sandwiches and cookies. Just before sitting down, Aiden received a reply to the text he had sent to Marty and stepped away to read it. “i know you like music. Listen to some before the first game and if you have time before the second listen to something short that gets you focused and in the mood. Our best pitcher Vance listens to music before every start..hope that helps. MC”
“that was great,” Aiden texted back. “tnx AWM” After reading Marty’s advice, Aiden knew what he was going to do.
As the boys were eating, Aiden approached Rusty and told him that anytime he was ready to talk he was ready to listen.
“How about now?” Rusty asked. “I promise I won’t take long.”
“Sounds good. Let’s go into the house.” Aiden led the red head upstairs and into the serious discussion room. Rusty never ceased to be amazed at how casual everyone was about nudity when they came to Aiden’ house, himself included. He didn’t want to get naked right then because his main reason for coming was to talk to a friend and teammate he really respected and not to casually socialize and play games.
The two sat on the couch and Aiden got the talk started right away. “Okay, tell me what’s bugging you.”
“What makes you think something is bugging me?” Rusty responded.
“Why else would you want to have a serious talk with me? And if it’s about something I did, just come out and tell me so I can do better.”
“This isn’t about you. I’m talking to you because I trust you more than anybody on the team. What I tell you will be totally private, right?”
“Yes and no,” Aiden told him. “Nolan and I don’t have any secrets from each other, but what we say to each other doesn’t go any further than just the two of us. And if the talk is about something that is hurting somebody or can get somebody hurt, I might have to tell my dads    .”
“Fair enough. Thanks for being honest with me. But this is just about what’s happening between me and one player on the team.”
“And that player is Max, right?”
“How did you know?” Rusty asked in surprise.
“I watch what’s going on and so does everybody else on the Goats. Max is always complaining about shit and sometimes he slacks off in practice and it gets our attention. And since you follow him and complain of the same stuff, we notice.”
“I don’t slack off, though. At least, I don’t think I do.”
“Sometimes you do slack off at the same time Max does. I don’t think you even notice that you do it.”
“That’s what I was afraid of, that I was so scared of losing Max as a friend that I was doing what he was doing and didn’t even know it. I really thought I wasn’t slacking off.”
“Why do you need Max to be your friend that bad when everybody on the team wants to be your friend?  I’m your friend right now and if you look at who’s out at the pool, I’m sure Nolan is your friend and so are guys like Gordy and Miles,” Aiden said.
“No buts. How about you let me give you a hug and then you go out and do what you were doing before—play with everybody.”
“Do I have to get naked?”
“You know the rules, right. Nobody has to do anything they don’t want to do.”
Rusty nodded. “Yeah, I know them. I just wanted to hear you say it again.”
Rusty sat down and started to undress. There was more that he had wanted to say to Aiden, but he wasn’t sure how to say it. He was pleased that Aiden hadn’t started grilling him. He decided that maybe if he just let things to along as they were it would all turn out okay. He stripped off his shorts, boxer briefs, and tee, and then headed for the basement, carrying his clothes with him. He was delighted when everybody simply accepted that he was naked and didn’t question why he had changed his mind.  
The gathering lasted one more hour. Without anyone having to tell him, Rusty realized he was accepted by everyone as a Goat and as a friend. He began to realize that Max had been full of shit when he said nobody on the team liked him.
At two o’clock, Larry told the players it was time to dress and head for home. “I’ll see you guys in a couple of hours and I’m looking forward to watching you kick ass,” he told them.
Soon everybody was gone except Nolan and, of course, Cal. “What was the deal with Rusty?” Nolan asked.
“He just needed to feel like he was part of the team. I said he was,” Aiden said. “I’ll tell you more tomorrow or sometime. I need to be getting myself zoned for the game.”
“I understand,” Nolan said. He understood that Aiden had promised not to talk about the conversation with anybody but him, meaning he couldn’t say anything as long as Cal was around.
“I don’t, I just go and warm up and then pitch,” Cal told them.
“Whatever works,” Aiden commented. “I need a few minutes to think. You guys have fun.” Aiden, Cal, and Nolan hadn’t bothered to put clothes on. When Aiden dressed it would be into his uniform and Cal and Nolan would be dressing in shorts and tees.
“Pregame mac and cheese is ready to eat as soon as you’re ready to eat it,” Larry said as Aiden headed for the stairs up to the second floor.
“I’m not hungry,” Aiden mumbled.
“Aiden, what did we agree on about eating before a game?”
“That I gotta eat. But this is different.”
“Why? Because you could have to play two games? It all but makes it twice as important that you eat properly.” Larry didn’t want to argue with Aiden before one of the biggest games of his young life but being properly fed was an important part of his pregame preparation.
“I’ll be down in twenty minutes.” Aiden knew this was one argument he wasn’t going to win.
When he got into his room, he grabbed his headphones and his phone and searched his music selection. He knew Nolan thought his musical tastes were weird and he was certain Cal would think the same thing, but he didn’t care. He decided to listen to a Bach Brandenburg Concerto, and went to the first on his list, which just happened to be the first Brandenburg. He lay on his back, set his timer to go off in fifteen minutes, and started listening. The whole business with Rusty plus the upcoming game had his head spinning with multiple thoughts.
Aiden had never thought of music as being the way to focus his thoughts and wondered why Marty had never suggested it before. ‘Probably because I never asked,’ he thought as he settled back to concentrate on the music.
When the timer chimed it was like he had been yanked out of another universe. He had found something special to help him get into his zone, something he wanted to do again and again. Music to help focus his mind. If he had been further along in his maturity, he would have realized that music not only focused his mind but it did so without his trying hard—or so it seemed.
Aiden dressed in his uniform. He’d left his equipment bag packed with his gear from the night before. He opened the bag and placed his headphones inside. He grabbed his bag and his bat and headed downstairs to eat. Nolan and Cal, who were both dressed, were already digging into their mac and cheese.
“How did it go?” Nolan asked.
“I’m ready. Marty gave me a good suggestion. I’ll talk about it more tomorrow. Right now, I seem to have gotten hungry and need to do something about it.” Aiden dug into his mac and cheese, his mind focused only on baseball and food.
<Centralia Baseball Complex, Field 1>
The trip from Mayfield to Centralia was a blur for Aiden. He spent the trip listening to Mozart. He wasn’t sure which composer would be the best for what he was trying to do. So far, Bach and Mozart were both good, with Bach getting an edge. Larry and Nolan knew not to bother Aiden. Cal, even though he wasn’t sure he understood what Aiden was doing, maintained his space was well. Cal’s pregame routine was to laugh and joke with his teammates, eat a meal and a snack or two, and then go play hard.
When they arrived at the field, Aiden shut down Mozart and removed his headphones. It was time to think baseball.
“Are you ready to go?” Nolan asked as they exited the Odyssey.
“Bring ‘em on,” Aiden grinned.
“I don’t get how that classical music shit can get you pumped.”
“It seems to get me focused and when I’m focused, I’m pumped, at least today. It’s the first time I tried it, so we’ll have to see how it works and if it keeps on working.”
“It sure is different from what I do,” Cal said.
“Everybody is different,” Aiden responded.
“Ain’t that true.”
It wasn’t long before everybody on the team had arrived (early, of course), arms had been warmed up, infield taken, and the home plate conference completed. The Yard Goats were now on the field, waiting for Trent to begin his warmup pitches. The nervous tension was high for both teams, but especially for the Goats who needed to win to stay alive for the championship.
Trent could feel the butterflies dashing around his stomach as he threw his eight warmup pitches. His brother had told him earlier in the season that the way to deal with butterflies was to get them to fly in formation. Not long after that Aiden had told him the same thing, saying it was something his pop had told him. Trent, who tended to feel cool and calm at the start of a game, wondered how the fuck he would get the butterflies into formation. That must be what Aiden was always trying to find ways of doing before a game—getting those fucking butterflies into formation.
‘Well, nothing I can do about it now,’ he thought after throwing his last warmup pitch. Mac threw the ball down to second. When it came back to Trent, he engaged the rubber and prepared to throw the game’s first pitch.
The first pitch was a ball, as was the second, as was the third. After throwing a fastball down the middle, which the batter obviously had a take sign on, Trent threw ball four. The next batter singled on the first pitch thrown to him which brought up Skyler. Skyler made solid contact on a 2-0 pitch, hitting a bases clearing triple that gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. That brought Mac out to the pitcher’s mound. Scott sauntered over from third to join the conference.
Mac glanced over to the Goats’ dugout to see if Coach Hallion or Eric was coming out but they both stayed in the dugout. Mac knew that early in the course of a game the coaches usually left the mound conference to the catcher, with the key word being usually. Trent saw Mac coming and knew he was ready to seriously chew some ass.
“Hey, dude, do you have any idea who stole our starting pitcher?” Mac asked casually.
“Say what? I’m right here,” Trent answered with obvious agitation.
“Liar. The starting pitcher going for the Goats today is a tough dude who coolly chews up batters and spits them out. And that sure the fuck isn’t you.”
“I don’t want to end our season,” Trent said meekly.
“Let me spell out my answer to that piece of bullshit. If you look behind you, you’ll see T-E-A-M, and if you can’t see it or spell it that’s proof you’re not our pitcher.”
“Let’s play ball, boys!” the home plate umpire called out.
“So let me do the worrying and thinking while you do the pitching and we’ll get this asshole out,” Mac barked. He turned and hustled back to home plate.
“He’s totally right,” Scott said before returning to third base, noting that Coach Hallion had not signaled the infield to play in.
Trent took a deep breath and focused on Mac’s sign. He saw where Mac wanted the pitch and knew he could hit that spot. He proceeded to put the pitch right where his catcher wanted it for a called strike. The batter swung at the next pitch and lofted a fly ball to medium center field.
Skyler tagged up, ready to leave as soon as Riley, the center fielder, touched the ball. Skyler calculated the distance and saw that the fielder was a little, skinny fart. The players on a team who were skinny little farts were usually not hard throwers. For the most part they were accurate, but none of them had strong arms. Skyler saw that the center fielder had to back up a couple of steps to make the catch and concluded he should have no problem scoring.
The third base coach saw things the same way as Skyler. He yelled out, “Tag…tag…tag…, and as soon as Riley touched the ball, he called, “GO!”
As Skyler took off for home, he made a classic mistake; he underestimated his opponent. While he ran hard, he didn’t turn on the after burners. For a moment he thought he might be able to score standing up but junked that idea because sliding looked cooler. 
Like Aiden, Riley was a small boy with a strong arm. In fact, his arm was a little stronger than Aiden’s. When Skyler saw the throw from center coming in hard on a line, he decided to turn on the after burners, but too late. As he slid feet first into home, he was met by Mac holding his glove, with the ball lodged in it and held in place with his left hand, in front of the plate. Skyler slid right into the tag. The call was an easy one for the umpire who called and signaled an emphatic out to end an 8-2 (centerfield to catcher) double play. The situation had quickly shifted from a runner on third with no outs to the bases empty and two outs.
Trent saluted Riley with his glove and grinned at the spunk of his teammate. The double play was T.E.A.M at work and Trent was ready to build on his teammate’s accomplishment. He watched Riley and Miles, the left fielder, bump fists in the outfield.
“Where did that ball come from?” Skyler yelled as he stomped angrily into the dugout. He was angry with himself for screwing up and getting tagged out because he had underestimated the centerfielder. That was not the way he usually played. “There’s no way that little dude threw the ball that hard right to the catcher.”
“Well, there is a way because he did it,” Don Rankin, one of the substitutes, said. Skyler couldn’t disagree with him. Trent struck out the next batter to end the inning.
“Wow, that little dude has an ARM on him,” Cal said to Nolan in the bleachers.
“You’d better believe it,” Nolan said. “And he knows how to use it as a pitcher too. I hate to think how hard he’ll throw when he’s fully grown.”
Zeke North, the Bulldog pitcher, threw with a fluid motion. He wasn’t going to overpower anybody, but his pitches had good movement and he had good command of them. He threw a 1-2-3 first as Gordy grounded out to third, Aiden lined out to second, and Trent flied out to deep left field. The inning ended with the Bulldogs holding a 2-0 lead.
Trent, who was now on solid ground mentally, struck out the side in the top of the second. Muddy started the bottom of the inning by hitting a 2-0 pitch flush with the sweet spot of his bat. His hit was a no-doubt home run the moment it left his bat, as the ooooooh, ahhhhhhhh, of the crowd when they heard the bat make contact indicated. The ball landed well beyond the right field fence. Muddy’s home run cut the Bulldog lead to 2-1.
Scott then flied out to center, Miles singled and Mac hit a hard line drive to left that almost went directly into the left fielder’s glove. Max struck out weakly on three pitches to retire the side. Rusty, who was standing in the dugout, tried to figure out what he had seen in the big first baseman to think he would make a good friend.
The third and fourth innings were both scoreless. Zeke gave up a single in each inning and had to work around an error by the shortstop in the fourth as well. Trent pitched a 1-2-3 third inning and gave up a single and a walk in the fourth but both runners were left on base. The score remained 2-1 Bulldogs.
Things heated up in the fifth, however. Zeke led off the inning with a double. Lewis, the next batter struck out, which brought up Marvin, the leadoff hitter. He singled to right, where Rusty, who subbed for Grant to start the inning, tried to throw Zeke out at home. He threw the ball over the head of Max, who was the cutoff man and was supposed to be his target. The proper play was to hit the cutoff and have the cutoff catch the ball, pivot, and relay the throw home. When run properly a cutoff play will turn one long, not so hard throw into two quick harder throws.   
Rusty’s throw went past Mac and was fielded by Trent, who was backing up the play.  Zeke scored easily and Marvin ended up on second as a result of Rusty’s errant throw. The run gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead. Rusty was charged with an error. The next hitter popped out to Aiden at second for the second out.
That brought up Skyler, who was 2-for-2 with a triple. He quickly added a double to his hit total when he rapped a 1-2 pitch over Riley’s head in center which scored the runner. Skyler rounded second, but when he saw that Riley had run down the ball, he knew from recent experience not to try to test the center fielder’s arm again. He put on the brakes and scrambled back to second, barely beating Riley’s throw to Aiden at the base.
“Skyler is just killing us,” Cal lamented up in the bleachers.
“He’s no doubt the best player in the league,” Nolan said. “The dude can do it all.”
“Being down 4-1 in the fifth the way their pitcher is pitching isn’t a good spot to be in,” Paul noted. He, Larry, and Phil were sitting in the row in front of Nolan and Calvin.
“Don’t count out the Goats,” Larry said. “They are team of grinders and will fight down to the end. Zeke is good, but I think they can get to him.”
Trent struck out Darren, the cleanup hitter, to end the inning. The Goats had three innings to dig out of a 4-1 hole.
Rusty ran off the field angry with himself for missing the cutoff man. They ran cutoff drills every practice and he knew he had no excuse for not hitting Max with his throw. After his chat with Aiden that morning he realized that he wasn’t playing a lot not because the coaches didn’t like him, but because he wasn’t following the part of the Goat’s dictum that said, “play smart.” Overthrowing the cutoff man was definitely not playing smart—he hoped his error would not come back to haunt the team.
The Goats didn’t wait long to answer the Bulldog challenge. Lance pinch hit for Riley and hit a 2-1 pitch for a leadoff single. Gordy followed that with a soft grounder that eluded the pitcher and died on the grass before the third baseman could pick it up. Gordy’s infield single put runners on first and second with nobody out. The Bulldog coach sent one of his relief pitchers with his backup catcher to the bullpen area to warm up. In the Mayfield bullpen area, Riley was starting to warm up with Lenny.
Aiden was up next. He worked a full count and then fouled off five straight pitches before drawing a walk to load the bases.
“Way to grind it out, Aiden,” Nolan yelled from the bleachers.
 The Bulldog coach kept his infield back, willing to trade a run for an out. Trent foiled the strategy by lining a single to short left to score Lance, making the score 4-2.
The bases were still loaded and now Muddy was the hitter. The Bulldog coach decided that Zeke was out of gas and brought in Frank, the pitcher he had warming up. Muddy had his usual stoic look as he stepped to the plate amidst the loud cheering of the Mayfield fans and the encouragement being shouted from the Goat dugout. Muddy had homered in his first at bat and struck out in his second. Although he didn’t show it, Muddy loved the noise. He was an extremely confident hitter who believed in himself every time he stepped up to the plate. The loudness of the fans and his teammates lifted his confidence to new heights. He saw no reason why he couldn’t homer a second time. The fact that this was a huge clutch situation didn’t bother him in the slightest.
Muddy let the first pitch go by to see what the new pitcher looked like. Being patient was something Coach Hallion and Coach Kevin had both drilled into him and it was making him a better hitter. The pitcher had thrown a fast ball for a strike. Muddy wasn’t impressed with the speed or the movement of the pitch, but it was a little high in the zone and he got a really good look at it. He was ready to swing hard at the next good-looking pitch. The next pitch was an inside and high pitch for a ball. The third pitch looked like the first one had, and Muddy gave it a mighty swing. Once he made contact the only question was how far over the fence it would travel before it came down to Earth. Muddy’s grand slam home run gave the Yard Goats their first lead of the game at 6-4. Muddy was swamped by his teammates after crossing home plate. He had many big hits in his hitting resume, but this was, without a doubt, his biggest one ever.
“Damn, Muddy is the bomb every way you can think it,” Cal grinned. “The Broncos got some good hitters, but nobody like what he is.”
Nolan agreed, although he liked to think he was a better all-around hitter than Muddy.  Nolan knew he had good power, but he was no match for Muddy in that aspect of hitting. As he watched the celebration at home, Nolan noted that Muddy did not smile and wondered if he had any emotions at all inside that big, solid body of his. He knew he would soon find out.
There was still nobody out when Scott kept the on base parade going with a solid single on the first pitch to him. After a visit from the Monte coach, Miles singled Scott to third before Frank managed to settle down. Mac flied out to center, scoring Scott. Max lined to the shortstop and Lance, batting for the second time in the inning, struck out to end the inning he had started with a single. The Yard Goats had scored six runs in the inning and now had a 7-4 lead at the end of five innings.
Trent had thrown 80 pitches. Since Coach Hallion knew he would have to send in a reliever for him before the sixth inning ended, he decided to make his pitching change to start the inning and brought Riley in to pitch. Riley was re-entering for Lance which meant Lance was finished playing for the game. Coach Hallion moved Rusty to center field and Trent to first base. Mason substituted for Max and went to right field.
“Dang, that little center fielder is a pitcher too?” Skyler said to nobody in particular in the Bulldog dugout. “I wonder if he throws his pitches hard, too.”
Riley came in and showed Skyler and the Bulldogs that he had a fast ball with some zip to it as well as an outstanding changeup. Steve led off the sixth inning and grounded out to Aiden. Greg then hit a grounder between Scott and Gordy for a single. The next batter popped out to Aiden after which Riley gave up a four-pitch walk. Mac called time and gave Riley a quick pep talk telling him he was better than the hitters and to challenge them with his best stuff. Riley delivered a beautiful changeup to Duncan Rice who hit a weak grounder to Gordy, who flipped the ball to Aiden at second for a force out to end the inning.
The Bulldogs had a new pitcher, Carl Wilson, on the mound to start the bottom of the sixth and Gordy promptly welcomed him to the game with a single, his third hit of the game. Aiden followed up with a single up the middle, putting runners on first and second. Trent flied out to left which brought Muddy up to bat.
“Hit another home run, Muddy!” came a boy’s voice from the bleachers. The voice belonged to Skip, who had come to the game with his grandmother. Nolan swore that Muddy almost broke into a smile when he heard the admonition. Carl wanted nothing to do with Muddy and walked him on four pitches to load the bases. He then walked Scott, which plated Gordy, making the score 8-4.
Miles, who was three-for-three, picked up his fourth hit, a two-run double scoring Aiden and Muddy. The Goats now had a big 10-4 lead. Mac flied out to left and Mason struck out to end the inning.
When the inning had started, the Goats had a three-run lead and Coach Hallion had Max warm up. With a six-run lead, the coach decided to save his closer for the second game and left Riley on the mound. He did make one change and entered Emmett into the game at second, taking Aiden’s place in the lineup. The coach made the move to give Aiden a chance to start focusing on the second game, which he would be starting on the mound. Everyone but Lenny had played in this game. Lenny knew he was going to be the starting catcher in the second game and wasn’t concerned about not playing in the first game. Aiden asked for and received permission for a potty break.
Nolan saw Aiden exit the field through the gate next to the dugout. He told Cal he would be right back and made his way down the bleacher steps.
“Hey dude, I won’t bother you long. I know you’re going to go piss and then go right back to your team. It looks like the IF game is gonna be played and I just wanted to give you a hug while I could.”
Aiden gave his boyfriend a big smile. He couldn’t think of anything better to help his focus than a hug from the boy he loved. After they hugged each other tightly, Nolan stepped back, put his right middle and index fingers under Aiden’s chin, looked him in the eye and said, “Enjoy the moment, Sweet Cakes. I love you.”
“Thanks, and I love you, too, Sugar Bear.” There was one out in the top of the seventh when Aiden returned to the dugout.
The rule requiring each player in uniform to play in the game was suspended for the championship games, and the Bulldogs had three players who hadn’t played. All three batted in the top of the seventh and Riley handled them with ease. A groundout to Emmett, a strikeout, and a popup to first ended the quick inning and gave the Goats a convincing 10-4 win. The IF game would be played with the winner taking the Southwest 13 and under League championship.
As agreed on by both teams before the game, there would be no handshake line after the first game if the IF game was going to be played. The Goats immediately gathered outside the dugout for instructions from Coach Hallion. Before the coach could say anything, the home plate umpire yelled out that the home plate meeting for the second game would be in a half hour, at 8:35.
Coach Hallion congratulated the team on an excellent game. “It was a team effort in every way imaginable,” he said. He announced the starting lineup and then dismissed the team telling them to report back in twenty minutes. He stopped Aiden and Lenny and told them to be back in ten minutes so Aiden could get warmed up for his start. Eric would supervise the warmup session. Aiden had no intention of going anywhere, but Lenny had to take a piss.
Lance and Lenny headed for the structure in the center of the complex that housed the concession stand and the restrooms. It also had an office area and a dressing room for the umpires, two of whom would be changing since the umps would be rotating positions for the second game. The first base umpire would be working home plate, so he had to don his plate gear. The home plate umpire would be moving to third base and would be taking off his plate gear and putting on a fresh uniform. The third base umpire would move to first and didn’t have to change anything.
The twins ran across Skyler in the central area. They greeted him and introduced themselves.
“I think twins are really coolio,” Skyler said.
“So do we,” Lenny grinned.
“That Muddy dude is something else,” Skyler said. “I’ve never seen anybody in this league, or the middle school league, hit the ball as far as he did.”
“I don’t know,” Lenny responded. “You hit the ball pretty hard yesterday.”
“That was maybe my best hitting game all year and I’ve had some good games. I need to repeat that in this game, especially with you catching.”
“You saw our ace in the game we just finished and you guys hit him pretty well. Anyway, I gotta go drain the lizard so I can get Aiden warmed up.”
“Who’s pitching for you guys?” Lance asked Skyler. He wasn’t in quite as big of a hurry as Lenny since he wasn’t going to be starting, let alone warming up a pitcher.
“My boyfriend, Greg, who moved from the bullpen to our number three starter since summer ball, will probably be starting. He’s turned into a good pitcher,” Skyler answered.
Trent and Mac met up in a secluded area behind the stands.
“Nice comeback, my man,” Mac said as the boys shared a solid hug. “You deserve a good hot fuck for that.”
“Yeah, and you deserve a good hot fuck for calling me on my shit,” Trent replied.
“Sounds like a beautiful night,” Mac said with a grin. “I’m ready.”
Mac took two steps in and surprised Trent by thrusting his hand into his pants and inside his protective cup, giving his cock a quick squeeze before yanking it out.
“Oh, you are a nasty boy,” Trent chuckled.
“And you know you love it.”
“We’d better get back,” Mac suggested. “You know you owe me.”
“I’ll be more than happy to pay my debt.” The boys bumped fists and headed back to the dugout before they were missed.
Aiden sat at the end of the third base dugout that was closer to the outfield. He was wearing his headphones which were pumping the last movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Aiden decided to use that piece of music because it was lively and had a solid beat to it. It was like listening to a piece of rock music, only with a full symphony orchestra playing instead of guitars and drums. He pumped the volume, nodding his head and stamping his right and then his left foot in time to the music. Despite the chaos of having played a game over the last two hours, he felt ready to pitch. Not having to play in the seventh inning had been a big help. Having fifteen minutes to listen to one of his favorite pieces of music helped. And advice Nolan gave him as they hugged after walking into the complex was a huge help.
“Enjoy the moment,” Nolan had just told him. That was exactly what he intended to do. This was going to the biggest pitching start of his life, and he knew he was ready to enjoy it.
Next: IF
Mayfield Yard Goats vs Monte Bulldogs at Centralia Baseball Complex, Game 2 of the Southwest Washington League Championship. The Bulldogs own a 1-0 lead in the series.
  1. Gordy- SS (6)
  2. Aiden-2B (4)
  3. Trent-P (1)
  4. Muddy-DH batting for Grant -RF (9)
  5. Scott-3B (5)
  6. Miles-LF (7)
  7. Mac-C (2)
  8. Max-1B (3)
  9. Riley-CF (8)