Coach grunted. “We’re only down 7-5. Try not to mess it up, Johnson.”
Dave didn’t bat in the bottom of the sixth. In this league, they only played seven innings; the next inning would be their last chance in the loser-out tournament.
In the seventh, the first hitter hit a pop fly into shallow right field. Dave ran to make a diving catch. Naomi and the rest of the crowd jumped to their feet to cheer.
At last! She’s applauded me! Dave threw the ball to the pitcher, bowed, and tipped his cap to the crowd.
Coach screamed, “Johnson, who do you think you are? Don Mattingly? Get back into position.”
The next batter hit a ground ball that the shortstop scooped up and threw to Dave. The ball came six feet wide of first base, but Dave stretched far enough to catch the ball and get to the base in time to record the second out. A strikeout later, and the inning was over.
In the bottom of the seventh, the first hitter grounded out, the second struck out. The third surprised everyone and bunted for a base hit. Coach shouted from the dugout, “You mind not risking the season?”
The next batter hit a ground ball to short that should have ended the game, but the shortstop’s throw landed in right field. The runners advanced to second and third.
Dave gulped; it was his turn to bat. On Dave’s way to the plate, Coach said, “Try not to make a fool of yourself.”
Coach gave such encouraging advice.
The first pitch came high and tight-ball one. The pitcher lobbed the second pitch over. Dave swung and connected with the ball. The ball zoomed over the bleachers and across the street before vanishing from sight.
Dave grinned. Wow! I haven’t hit a home run in two years!
The crowd roared as he rounded the bases. At home plate, Coach gave him a slap on the back and his teammates heaved him up on their shoulders, nearly dropping him once in the process.
In the semi-finals, played an hour after the first game ended, Dave smashed another three homers as his team won 6-3.
In the finals, played after a pizza break, Dave hit three homers. His team was up 14-2 as he came to bat in the bottom of the sixth.
After three balls out of the strike zone, Dave swung-Ping! The ball not only flew out of the park, but the aluminum bat shattered, the barrel flying out into left field.
Dave circled the bases. Zolgron’s words echoed in his ears. “You can run faster than one of your sports cars, have the strength of a hundred ordinary humans, can change shapes, and can materialize objects at will.”
Dave grinned wider. It wasn’t just a dream brought on by Hawaiian pizza and an overactive imagination!
The cylinder had become part of him; he must have sub-consciously created another to replace it in the crate. Tonight, he had something far more important to celebrate than a championship.
A legend had been born.
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