By Brady Farkas
Man, baseball can be a frustrating sport. The failure can be overwhelming. And it often is. That’s why it’s so hard to get to the professional ranks.
But, when you overcome that failure and work around it, ah, what a sweet moment that is.
That was the case for Ariel Ovando during the 10th inning of Tuesday’s 3-2 ValleyCats win vs. the Hudson Valley Renegades, a win that propelled the ‘Cats to a tie for the best record in the New York-Penn League (39-19) with said Renegades.
Ovando had had a frustrating night to that point, flying out to the wall twice and looking below average on a three-pitch strikeout in a fifth inning at-bat against Renegades starter Chris Pike.
When he came up with no out and a runner at first in the 10th, he had a chance to turn his night into a productive one by simply advancing Mott Hyde to second.
Manager Ed Romero put the bunt sign on, and Ovando put down a great bunt that went just foul down the third-base line.
*Note to any bunters in need of executing a successful sacrifice: Ovando’s first attempt was TOO good. It danced on the chalk briefly before going foul. In that situation, just get it down in fair territory, and anywhere except directly to the pitcher.*
His second attempt also went foul, and with an 0-2 count, I found myself wondering if the ‘Cats were desperate enough to get Hyde to second that Romero would put the bunt on even with two strikes.
He didn’t. And after a ball made it 1-2, Ovando laced a double to the left-center field gap that advanced Hyde to third. And after Juan Santana was walked intentionally to load the bases, the stage was set for Alex Hernandez’s walk-off single.
Ovando had a tough night early, and after failing to the bunt down, it was in a position to get tougher. But he was able to clear his head and deliver when his team needed it most.
Baseball doesn’t lose the mental battle very often, often crushing its players in seas of repetitive failure.
But not on Tuesday. Not for Ariel Ovando.