Up by one, the tying run
on third, my son
crouches low behind a full-count plate,
locks eyes with the closer, moves his glove over,
“One more out, kid,” he says,
as his fingers flash the call.

The ball moves like lightning,
spinning low and inside, so the batter
lets it sail past with a sharp, discerning eye.
I alone watch my son as his glove frames the pitch,
pulling up, and then pausing
a pinch to the right.

When the umpire’s “Strike!”
splits the air like a knife,
the boys pile on the pitcher
with excited relief. “Way to go, kid,” says Coach.
“Nice pitch!” yells the crowd. And our cheers
smother the stunned silence of the losing team’s grief.

I turn back to the plate.
My son, still crouching, alone,
rips off his mask, rubs the dirt from his cheeks,
slowly stands, stretches stiff muscles,
meets my eyes with a smile,
then trots to the mound and disappears into his team.