Last year, with a reasonable lead in the semi-final game, the umps and coaches decided to what-the-heck play one more inning and the Big O's team fell to the Diamondbacks and lost.
This year, after a seesawing lead and a tie at the start of the final-for-sure inning, his team put up four runs then held the Angels to one. They're off to the championship game.
The playoffs are double elimination and O's team, the Padres, lost their first game. So it was hard at that point to imagine them making it much further, especially since game two was against the team with the best regular-season record---a team that had already beaten the Padres twice---a team that went up 9-1 by the end of the first inning. In a league that ends games automatically if the run difference hits ten.
But they came back and won, 12-10.
Largely on the back of great pitching. After that first inning, the fielding came together and the pitching was rocksolid and they didn't give up another run till the final inning.
The Big O pitched one of those innings, but just one. To keep his pitch count low so he could start the next game.
[Aside: O can only pitch 50 innings in a game (or, if he hits fifty during a batter, he can complete the batter). If he pitches >20, he can't pitch the next day. More than 35 and he can't pitch until two calendar days have passed. >50 and it's three days of rest.]
Although, given how much he practices I perhaps shouldn't be, I'm amazed that this son of mine can really really pitch. I was never even comfortable tossing a ball clear into adulthood and he has half a dozen pitches at eight years old.
Anyway, after that come-from-behind second game, the playoffs have felt a bit inevitable. Every game could have been the last, but they won four games in four days, the last one against a team that hadn't lost yet. That's the team they played again last night. O went three innings. The lead bounced back and fourth. For the first time since the first inning of game two, nothing felt inevitable. I just didn't know if they would win or not.
But they did.
And this weekend they play for it all.
Whether he wins or loses hardly matters. It's been an incredible season, he's had fun and he's played extremely well. I'm satisfied.
No way to know if more championships will be in O's future (in a way, what a bummer to have second grade be your best year ever), but something of destiny seems to hang about him. So, maybe? We'll see.
Click on the photo to see a few more. These are just some of the great photos taken of the team by this gentleman.