Too close for comfort

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 12, 2004

By GEORGE MAHL – Sports Editor

I attended the Riverside-Episcopal playoff game last Friday afternoon and decided to do something I had not done all year long. I usually go stand in the dugout in the fourth and fifth inning’s to snap a few pictures.

This time, however, I decided to stand in the dugout for the entire game. I just wanted to know what it felt like to be close to a team playing with so much on the line.

To say the least, it was interesting. Covering a game from the actual dugout is a totally different experience than from covering a game from the stands. You feel like you are more into the game than if you were in the stands. Everytime the Rebels got a hit, I felt like giving one of the players a high five. From a sportswriter’s perspective, you have to be neutral. But how can even a local sportswriter not root for a team when a victory puts them in the state semifinals?

On Monday, I was watching and hoping St. Charles Catholic would get to the semifinals in Crowley.

I would also like to see Destrehan and Hahnville make it to Zephyr Field.

After the Rebels seemed to strike out time after time, all head coach Steve Stropolo could tell his team was “let’s go play some defense”.

It seemed to be getting repetitious.

Emotions were running very high.

Rebel hitters would walk around the dugout very upset with themselves, often throwing their gloves down in disgust. The rally hats were successful in an earlier playoff game for the Rebels. Everytime there was an error, some players would get upset, while others would say “C’mon Rem (Jordan Remondet) get us out of this.”

The big moment for the Rebels and their fans came in the bottom of the seventh inning. Hotard took matters into his own hands. As he rounded second base, Stropolo told him to hold up. He ignored him and ran through the sign.

Luckily for him, he was safe at third. That moment sent a jolt of electricity through the Rebels dugout.

When Hotard scored, you would have thought the Rebels were on the verge of winning the state championship.

It ended sooner than they would have hoped.

A strikeout to end the game brought tears to Riverside players and brought concerned parents and other family members into the dugout.

I remember sitting on the bench putting my camera in the bag while watching these young men sob uncontrollably.

It was a difficult moment for the players.

It was a difficult moment for everyone.