Pressure Pitch

Stephen Rechter

It's been a long game; already over three hours and its only the top of the eighth inning. The bats came alive for both teams; it's a 8-8 tie game. Both pitching staffs have been heavily worked, down to just a lefty specialist and the always untouchable starting crew for your team. It was just you and the lefty (you don't even know his name) left in the bullpen until he stood up to stretch his arm and start throwing. You sit alone at the end of the bench in the visitor's bullpen, wearing the pastel blue and white Charleston Riverdogs jersey for the first time. You think the colors are a little tacky, preferring the simple Tampa Jersey from low-A ball. It seems like just yesterday you were goofing around in a cluttered high school dugout. Now, it counts. You never expected to be moved so fast or receive so much attention. You were a no-name, 10th round draft pick after all. "Unpolished", read the scouting reports. "No control or consistent secondary pitch." Then you dominated rookie ball as a starter and averaged less than two runs per game as a reliever for the Tampa Yankees when they promoted you. Now you're playing in SIngle-A ball, two levels above where anyone expected you to be at this point, tangoing with seasoned professionals. Having just got the call, you barely made it to the park on time, and now you need to prepare to close out a tie game. You stand up and begin nervously stretching your throwing arm.
Stretch right arm.
Stretch left arm.