• "Well, I think that’s there’s a problem here, Her voice just don’t sound right
    But I left myself on her answering machine, Said, “I’m back in town tonight”
    I feel I’ve stepped out of the wilderness, All squint eyed and confused
    But even babies raised by wolves, They know exactly when they’ve been used.
    See, when it starts
    to fall apart,
    Man, it really falls apart,
    Like boots or hearts
    Oh when they start
    They really fall apart”
    That rather lengthy intro is from one of my all-time favorite bands, and based on the reference to an answering machine, you can tell it’s pretty old. And as you might gather, it isn’t talking about baseball, but in my squint eyed and confused mind, it fits!
    As the lyric says, the team (and me) are back in town tonight, rather than awaiting the start of one more game in this tremendous season. The Wolverines dropped the State Semi Final matchup against the Burke Catholic Eagles, 4-1, Friday afternoon. Thus, putting an end to a spectacular 24-3 campaign. Also, tearfully, bringing us to the end of the baseball road for seven characters who have shown to be men of great character.
    There were many things about this one that cumulatively created the loss. As baseballers can be ultimate superstitious things, it could have been that BR was allocated to have BP this morning at Conlan Field in the city of Binghamton. If you are unfamiliar with the reference, that is the same (although much improved) venue where BR’s last state run ended 10 years ago. Ironically, by the same 4-1 score. Maybe it was the “missing” black bat that Coach Allen has used since, perhaps, day one for pre-game infield outfield. Maybe someone wore the wrong shoes, or shirt, or…. The truth is the Eagles made plays and BR did not.
    Things didn’t start off BR’s way and in short order one could almost feel there was an aura of some in the dugout feeling this was not to be their day. Perhaps it was just me and my glass halfemptyness?
    The team collected only 4 hits. Unfortunately, they had a like number of errors and baserunning guffaws. The Wolverines speed never became a factor as the Eagle catcher was much more proficient at his craft than several of the others BR has faced this season.
    The Eagles, for their part had 7 hits and were flawless in the field.

    We’ll try to get through this.

    BR lost the coin toss and became the visitors. Maybe that was the beginning of the end? They went way too quickly in their first chance at the plate. Only Aydin Sisson being hit by a pitch to show for offense.
    A sharp single to center started the Eagles’ 1st. A fly ball in the same direction to Reiss Gaines was one away. In a blink, the Eagles had two unearned runs on the board. A strikeout by Landon Barkley and a groundball to Trey Buchholz who fired to Caden Allen for the end of the frame. The damage had been done.
    BR got their run in the 2nd to give some life to the wave of fans who made the drive to Binghamton. Barkley singled up the middle. Charlie Militello drew a walk for first and second. Kingston Loucks drove in Barkley with a single to center. A perfect relay was needed and delivered to get Militello at third, Loucks to second on the play. Eagles 2-1.
    Another active at bat for the Eagles in their second trip. A single, perfectly splitting between Buchholz at short and Maddox Davison at third, got them started. The runner tested the arm of Sisson behind the plate. He did not get a passing grade as Aydin delivered a strike to Braden Zilker covering the bag at second. Grounder, Buchholz to Allen, fine work on both ends, for out two. A single to center followed. Then a walk, as there were stretches in the game, well, let’s say, there were some inconsistencies with things. With first and second, Barkley induced a ground ball to Zilker at 2nd, he went the short route to Buchholz covering at second, end of inning, phew.
    Buchholz got a one out single to center and stole second, giving the BR faithful some hope. But two well played defensive opportunities were completed by the Eagles.
    Bottom of three was a little less stressful, though not completely clean, either. A Barkley K started things. A fly ball to Waide Karnuth in left were 2 quick outs. A double followed but the rally ended Zilker to Allen.

    BR went in order in the 4th.
    The Eagles got the final two runs of the contest in their half. And after two outs, ouch.
    Another grounder, Zilker to Allen for the first. A single to right put one on. A K made for two outs. And then the zone shrunk, to not just mailbox size, but apparently the size of a mail slot? Three straight walks, including a pitching change, on pitches that well, eyeroll, whistling emoji… put one more in. A wild pitch with the bases still juiced made for run 4. The final out came from Buchholz to Allen.
    BR three up three down in the fifth, as the mail slot belatedly returned to the proper shape, maybe?
    In the bottom, a fly ball to Loucks in right, with Kingston holding steady under the wind aided flyball, was one out. Buchholz’s lone K in his 2+ innings was out 2. A hit batter put one on. Fielder’s choice to Zilker at second, taking it himself was the third.
    BR was making some noise in the sixth, but the Eagles were making some plays. Buchholz got his second hit to start. He was erased on the bases while Sisson was working a walk. A fielder’s choice off the bat of Allen removed Sisson. And that was about all BR would manage.
    The Eagles completed their game with activity on the bases in every inning. A single to center started it. A bunt and Buchholz made a heckuva play to field it and throw to Allen at first, Allen with a fine stretch to finish the out. Man at second. An errant throw allowed the runner to third. Next batter hit a dribbler that Buchholz grabbed off the mound, then ran right at the runner at third who had thoughts of scoring, but a toss to Sisson who applied the tag for out 2. A single to center, which would have plated the runner from third, had he still been there, followed. Final out, Buchholz another fine play off the mound, to Allen. End of the sixth.
    Three outs and a handshake has been an oft used phrase in these recaps. Unfortunately, this time it was not in a good way for the Wolverines.
    Buchholz had two hits, Barkley, and Loucks one each, Loucks securing the BR RBI.
    Barkley went 3 + on the mound with 3 Ks and only one earned run against. Buchholz mopped up the last 2+ with one K.
    Many folks have commented about these little recaps. Almost always in the positive (we won’t mention that one from a few years ago, though I just kind of did that). Well, it’s very easy when things are good. Not so easy when the team does not come out with a victory, and especially difficult at the end of the season. Kind of had the feeling this could have been the year. Heck, I don’t have many more left in me!
    As mentioned earlier, the seven characters who will cross the stage in a couple of weeks are both characters in the impish sense as well as good strong characters in the right way to be sense. Clearly attributable to parenting, coaching, teaching, and every other person-ing who have had a part in raising these fine men. I don’t recall the exact plans of each and every one of them but I do remember on Senior Night being very impressed with the goals of the seven and I am sure they will be successful achieving them. This was just a game that didn’t end our way, but there are so many more great things for you in your future. Paraphrasing Principal Margeson at the senior awards ceremony on Thursday, you should always be proud to be a Wolverine and we will always be proud to claim you as a Wolverine.
    The seven are Aydin Sisson, Landon Arnold, Caleb Miller, Trey Buchholz, Reiss Gaines, Caden Allen, and Aiden Smith. I don’t think I have the words to properly express what a pleasure it has been to be along for this ride this year, the seven of you and your teammates have given the community many thrills and smiles when we may have needed them the most.
    Stealing a line from a much more recent song (Pearl Jam, Setting Sun)
    “May your days be long before kingdom come, may our lives be long before kingdom come”
    Those are some large shoes to fill going forward, and as he has done many times in his tenure, Coach Allen will find ways to get them filled.
    There will probably be some accolades and All-Star pronouncements coming soon. The Athletic Awards Ceremony is this Wednesday the 11th. I’ll post the results here.
    On behalf of the Coaches, Allen, Buchholz, Smith, and Thomas, the team, and me, enormous thanks, appreciation, and love go out to all who have been there with the support, cheers, hoots, hollers, photos, signs, snacks, time, words, and whatever else that you gave, these things did not go unnoticed!
    THANK YOU!!!!

    First song, by the way, The Tragically Hip, Boots or Hearts, from 1991ish. Probably be getting calls from lawyers!