The Hitting Zone - Chapter 1136
Chapter 1136 V3 ch370 CIF Final: Postgame
Someone had the bright idea to use water bottles and dumped out the water on me. I laughed and took my helmet off. Noah threw his arm around my neck and started to bounce up and down.
"I knew it! I said it!" He laughed wildly as we celebrated. "Don't call it a comeback. We were always bound to win!"
I grinned, doing my best to high five the guys that came around. They were all headed for Garret, the one that completed the walkoff. I don't know how long we stayed out there on the infield grass, but as soon as half the guys started to sing 'We are the Champions', someone from the A's staff started to guide us back to the dugout.
"Let's treat the field with some respect and let the grounds crew fix it for the real home team." Mr. Miller took charge, ushering us away from the field.
Coach stood outside the dugout, arms crossed and a wide grin across his face. "Congratulations."
"Couldn't do it without you, Coach!"
"Yea, congrats to you too, Coach."
"Let's do it again next year!"
The last comment came from Noah. He stood tall with pride. "I want to be a champion every year. A four-peat champion."
A lot of the guys on the team laughed, especially the seniors. The juniors and below look at one another with a knowing smile.
"It's a good goal to have." Coach nodded, not afraid to take on the challenge. "Next season we will be missing some very important players. The returning varsity members will have to work hard to keep this level of play."
"Not gonna lie," Kyle started. "I'm going to be super jealous that some of you will have more rings than me." He glanced at me and Noah. "But I guess I can be satisfied, having one more than Zeke." He smirked.
"Does this make us better players than Zeke?" Dave asked with a smile, knowing that he had something over his older brother.
"It definitely says we have the better team." Garret joined in. "We won once with him and once without. Feels pretty darn good."
Noah rolled his eyes. "If you're so much better than him, why don't you three challenge him head on? Gotta be some good practice."
"Alright, simmer down." Coach motioned for everyone to zip it. "I know you're all riding on the high of a victory, but let's not get carried away just yet. We have to clean up and pack up. I know a couple of gentlemen want to I made a face. "Can I pass?"
A few guys looked surprised.
ask a few postgame questions." He looked to Garret than to me. "You two are the star of the show."
"Yea, okay." Garret easily agreed.
I made a face. "Can I pass?"
A few guys looked surprised.
Noah nudged me.
"Reason?" Coach asked.
I gave a small shrug. "I just don't want to end the good night like that." They'll ask me what I want to do in the future after high school. Why put myself through that again.
"Just leave all the talking to the captain, Coach." Noah spoke up for me. "He did all the work after all."
"Leave it to me." Garret stuck out his chest.
"Make sure to mention the sign stealing." Dave suggested.
"I'll definitely bring it up." Garret said. "Have to defend why you gave up runs and blew the save."
"What happened to you taking responsibility?" Dave asked. "They wouldn't have scored if you didn't let them on."
They started to bicker and Coach motioned for us to get moving. It was going to be a long bus drive back to the school.
From the dugout, through the halls, we walked back to our bus in high spirits. Coach and Garret stayed behind with Rose to be escorted where a couple of reporters were. Just outside, our bus was surrounded by friends and family. The supporters bus hadn't gone home yet.
"There they are!" Noah grabbed my sleeve and started to pull me to our family. Mom, Dad, and Grampa. The three were very tall and stood out…as did another family…
I started to slow down and Noah noticed. He tracked my eyes to see what I was looking at. He twisted his lips. "Well, let's go to Mom first."
"Good job, honey." Mom pulled Noah into a hug first. And then me. "You boys did so well."
"It's starting to feel underwhelming since I didn't do anything." Kyle commented as he and Dave reached. "Kind of like my championship game was last week."
"It's a season-long achievement." Dad said. "I'm happy that you boys could experience this once more."
"I kind of wish we kept it tied longer so I could do more." Dave complained. "Who knows when I'll play another game? In the fall?"
"This time next month, I should be getting my first taste of the minors." Kyle bragged with a smile.
"Booo." Dave said before pulling me in a small headlock. "You play a bunch of last place losers and I'll be home challenging Jake all day, everyday."
"What about me?" Noah asked.
Dave reached out and pulled him in with his free arm. "Of course I'll need you too." He laughed. "Who else will I be able to strike out a few times so Jake doesn't destroy my ego."
Noah shoved him away and broke free. "I won't strike out once."
"Want to bet?" Dave lifted an eyebrow.
"It's like the season never really ends in our household." Mom sighed. "Okay, play nice. I want to hear less about baseball and more about school. Finals are in just a couple of weeks. How is everyone's grades?"
Dave groaned. "Mommmm. What a mood killer."
"I know of another mood killer too." Noah's eyes shifted to the family off in the distance. "I guess they have something to say to you, Jake."
Everyone turned to look. The sudden attention from us must have encouraged them, because they all started walking our way with Carson in the lead. I only let out a puff of air when I noticed Jack missing.
Carson lifted a hand in greeting. "Hey. Jake. Good game." He shifted his gaze to Noah. "You too. Your fielding is on top."
"But not my bat?" Noah spat out.
Carson shrugged. "Maybe it just wasn't your day."
Noah seemed to relax with that.
"Thanks for coming and cheering the boys on." Mom said politely. She reached out to Ilene and introduced herself. Then Dad, Grampa, and us. Ilene introduced her two daughters: Gabby and Makenna.
Gabby made eye contact with me. "I thought it was lame that they walked you in that first at bat. Everyone around us was saying that they were scared of you." She smirked. "Hard to see what's so scary when you're the one that looks jittery half the time."
"Gabby." Her mom said with warning. She looked towards me, apologetic. "Don't mind her. She doesn't know what she's talking about."
"Nah." Noah answered. "Sounds like she does." He grinned at Gabby. "Did you hear us call him Bambi? It's cause he's like a baby deer in the headlights."
"I see it!" She snapped. "Good nickname." She glanced up at Carson. "This loser doesn't have a nickname."
"Hey, don't call your brother that." Her mom gave her a small pinch.
"What? It's true." She rubbed the spot she was pinched at. "He lost to Jake and his brothers before."
Noah laughed. "Well, to be fair, he isn't the only one. Undefeated champs right here."
Noah and Gabby seemed to split and have their own conversation.
Carson glanced at me before nodding at the twins. "Which one is which?"
"Dave. Kyle." I introduced even though Mom had just done it.
"I meant, which one is entering the draft and which one is headed for college." He looked a little embarrassed.
"Oh." I explained. "Kyle is entering the draft. Dave is going to Vanderbilt." I paused before deciding to ask. "What's your plan?"
He gestured towards Kyle. "Draft like him."
Kyle nodded approvingly. "We'll be in the same draft class. Cool. Maybe we'll even see one another in the rookie leagues."
A lot of the conversation seemed forced and a bit rudimentary, but honestly wasn't so bad. It kind of felt like…a distant acquaintance. Kind of like when we met Jack Maberry's family and friend.
Coach showed up with Garret and gave everyone the signal to wrap it up. We had to leave together as a team. Carson and his family said goodbye and quickly left. Mom, Dad, and Grampa left soon after too, saying we would see them at home. Mom even promised to have the pizza there before us.
"They actually weren't so bad." Noah commented as we boarded the bus. He glanced at me. "Right?"
I nodded slowly. "Yea. It's kind of like when Jeremy first came around. A little awkward. Distant."
"All extended family is like that." Kyle spoke up. "I thought they were okay too."
"Yea, nice enough not to make a big deal out of having Jack around." Dave agreed. "They didn't even bring him up. I can't imagine how weird their family dinners are."
"They were probably weird and tense last year, but you have to imagine that they're past that as a family." Kyle shrugged. "Like what is there to be mad about among them? Jeremy and Jake are the losers."
My lips twitched. "Thanks."
"You know what I mean." He pushed my cap down over my eyes. "Though I do wonder if Jack is going to be in charge of Carson's contract and stuff. It would be extra messed up if he screwed him out of some money too."
"I'll ask Jeremy." I volunteered.
"Yea, don't forget to tell him that we're repeat champs." Dave added.