“Who wants a victory?”
I asked before our first middle school fall ball game Saturday, September 19.
20-plus hands rose in unison before me as both teams kneeled on the pitcher’s mound. The follow-up question received quite a different result.
“Has anyone ever gone undefeated?”
Not a single hand rose in the warm, fall air at the stark question.
Fast forward a few hours to the final inning and we find ourselves trailing Team 360’s 13U by a score of 6-4.
Tyler Williams, an eighth grader from Wesley International Academy, toes the rubber for us in the top of the fifth inning. Thanks to strong pitching and defense we retire the side in straight order, 1-2-3.
Before entering the bottom half of the final inning, we gather the boys and again ask if they want a victory. Everybody says yes.
In order to get a victory, I explain that we have to fight for this victory. Both teams are hot and tired but we have to decide how bad we want to fight.
“This is the time to show some grit, to compete and show what you are made of,” I said before first basemen Nathan Riediger broke the team down with grit on three.
After we set the table for the top of the order by getting men on first and second base with one out, our number two hitter Demonte Patterson steps to the plate.
With one swing of the bat, the seventh grader from Drew Charter School smashes a double to center field and we tie the game 6-6 with Williams up next.
Or so we thought.
After a few minutes of confusion, Team 360’s scorekeeper explains to the head umpire and our head coach Ed Hartwell that Patterson’s two-run double won the ballgame. The score is 6-5 FCA, not a 6-6 tie, and it is game over.
The umpire crosses his arms into an “X” to signal ballgame and once our boys realize what just happened they rush onto the field and mull Patterson in exuberation.
Now jump back to the pre-game bucket talk, everybody on a knee surrounding the pitcher’s mound unsure of what I am getting at with my questions.
After drawing out from the players what it takes to win in baseball--commitment, integrity, teamwork, hard work, etc. I again ask another strong question.
“What does it take to win in life? To be undefeated?”
As loud as the cheers were once we won the game hours later was as quiet as it was once I asked my final question.
After allowing it to seep in, I said that we at FCA Urban Baseball believe Jesus Christ is the answer.
1 Corinthians 15:57 says,“But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I explain and acknowledge we have all done wrong. We have all done bad things we knew we shouldn’t have done. We have all sinned.
But God sent his son, Jesus, to die on a cross for us and take the punishment we deserve. And now through a faith in Him, we can be free of sin, be victorious over it, because every bad thing we have done, do and will do is forever gone.
How does this relate to our walk-off win?
Nobody gave up. Both teams fought until the end and believed they could win. I don’t know if one of the kids was saved that day but both teams played like it.
We played free of shame or of guilt. If someone made a mistake we moved on. We could have easily lost that game but we still would have been victorious because of the heart we showed.
In our ministry we hope our boys, our coaches and all who we surround us realize true victory doesn’t come from results but from within. True victory comes from freedom of sin through Him who took sin away.
By Chris Sherwood,, the assistant director
Posted on Fri, September 25, 2015
by Chris Sherwood