Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

48 pitches

HINESBURG, Vermont -- A great kid by the name of Nick Avery had thrown three 2-hitters and a 1-hitter during the Vermont Division I baseball season of 2007. He was a wiry kid, no more than 155 pounds soaking wet, about 5-foot-7, but the kid knew how to fling a ball and nibble the corners like Greg Maddux. Nick made a living nibbling the corners. But on this June day in 2007, deep inna heart of Vermont's pasturelands, Nick nibbled, nibbled and nibbled but never got the calls. Pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch. Pitches that had been called strikes all season long weren't being called for a strike today. Was he being homered so far away from home? Maybe. But because he couldn't get those corner calls, he had to chuck it over the heart of the plate, and Champlain Valley's bombers bombed the shit out of pitch after pitch after pitch. In this Division I semifinal, Nick Avery threw 48 pitches in the first inning. Gave up an opposite-field homer and a few plowed doubles and one or two seeing-eye singles, and that bottom of the first took about 30 minutes, although it felt like an hour or two. Nick was pulled in bottom-4. Here is he in the dugout, dejected, after his season ended amid the manure and pastureland sluggers.