Sunday, May 28, 2006

Elimination Game

Baseball, more than any other sport, can make for an unforgiving place to reside, at times. The good and very good are measured more by how they deal with adversity and failure, than how they relate to their times of success.

The Wheaton College Lyons, have come to their defining moment of the 2006 season, facing elimination, for the first time all year. Last night’s tough loss to Chapman University and their All-American pitcher, Devin Drag, was one of those moments when adversity blocks out all the other accomplishments in this spring’s high water mark of a season. Take away the 39 wins up to this point, a school record, the remarkable 24 game winning streak, their first regional title and their first appearance in the College World Series here in Appleton. Without a win today against a tough Wisconsin-Stevens Point club and the accolades and awards of 2006 will ring hollow. Granted, time will help all the players, coaches and fans place it in the proper perspective, but for the short-term, today’s game is the biggest one to date and the biggest one in the Lyons’ brief nine year history. Without a win and all will seem for naught.

As a former player, now relegated to the role of parent and spectator, it breaks your heart to see your son and his teammates looking so crushed and dejected, streaming through the Fox Cities Stadium concourse, last night. At a loss for words and just wanting to get on the bus, they obviously didn’t come here thinking about losing. Even parents and supporters, used to gregarious mingling and basking in the vicarious post-game rush of victory seemed ill-prepared for losing.

This morning, the sun came up and it’s a new day. Elimination games are what the latter stages of double-elimination tournaments are about. While Wisconsin Stevens-Point is 10-0 in their history of playing in elimination games, Wheaton as a program has never been here. Will history run true to form, or will the Lyons begin writing their own script of post-season miracles, with backs to the wall.

We’ll have to wait until early afternoon (1:15 CST) to know how things will shake out.

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