Saturday, it was a win-or-go-home game and one bad pitching mistake cost us the entire game. But we with Sunnyside can’t keep our heads down just because of one error. This was the game that meant everything even though the day before will be something our entire team and Tucson will always remember.
Here is what happened Saturday — First inning was 1-0 us, then in the third inning a hanging curveball down the middle is what gave them the lead. Our coach tried intentionally walking the kid but it was too late. Then, boom, home run to deep left field. It was now 3-1 them. One inning later, a left-handed batter hit a solo shot and it was now 4-1. We couldn’t hit after that first run but we never gave up. When the game ended, we were all sad, but we somehow kept our heads up.
We walked off the field and walked back to our barracks, where our coaches talked to us. They told us to never forget this moment and that we had one hell of a ride. Coach Moraga told us that we can never give up on our dreams, and to never forget this experience, that everyone was super proud of what we were able to accomplish, that he loves us all and thanked us for the ride. Coach Rivero told us to not give up and as we go along with our travel ball teams to work hard and to use this to make ourselves better. Coach Lorta told us it was the best time of his life with us and that he would never forget this and to keep playing baseball. Our host parents Jennifer and Joey were also in that talk with us. Our host dad Joey told us he loved every single one of us as if we were his own kids. Our host mom Jennifer told us that they had only been doing this for 2 yrs and this was by far their best baseball year with us and to not give up on our dreams and that she loved us. We all gave each other hugs and got really emotional.
We are a team and I see each one of my teammates as my brother. They are my family. All the blood, sweat, tears and determination we went through was now over. We all started packing our bags so we could go home with our parents and families. We had a mess in our barracks and we helped clean it up. When we finished cleaning, we said bye to each other because we may not see each other again or will not be on the same field. Because family meant everything to us, we gave hugs and kisses to the family that was here for us, but our actual baseball family were the ones that were in the dugout with us. They are our brothers and we will never forget our experiences together.
We ran together, won together and lost together and this is something I, Izaiah Moraga, will never forget. I will never forget this because Sunnyside is family, something most teams don’t have, and we also have heart. We bleed blue and white when we are winning or losing. But this time it was time we realized that it’s been a hell of a ride and that it is something that we should be proud of. We made a name for all of us, so we aren’t just Mexicans or just kids from southside Tucson. We are Sunnyside and we are those kids who had heart no matter what happened. We gave our best but that last game was when we collapsed and there is nothing more we could have done. We can walk away with our heads held high for getting this far and playing so many games in so little time.
So when I saw my brothers Sunday, we talked and everything because we all stayed at the same hotel with our families. We ate breakfast, played basketball and some of us went swimming. Then it was time for us to leave. We said bye and left. Some of us went to the beach. Some went home. My parents took me and my sister to a Dodgers game and are now driving to San Diego before we have to go back home tomorrow and back to school and reality.
I look at these 2 months of summer as a way I can take and grow from. One day when we are older, we will remember this ride and still be proud of what we did. I now have 12 brothers and 12 other families I can count on. I also have another mom and dad, Jennifer and Joey. I want to thank you for taking us in as their own, for always being with us at practice, making sure we had water and shade, for always eating with us, for always cheering us on and for always making sure we were okay.
Thank you to my other 12 families for all your sacrifices and everything you did for me and my brothers. Thank you to all my friends and family that surprised me on Saturday’s game by showing up and cheering our team on. I want to thank my mom and dad for everything you have done for me, for all the sacrifices you had to make for me to be here, for telling me to stay humble and proud of what we did and that you will always love me, for always being there for me and supporting my dream, for believing in me. I love you. And to my little sister, thank you for being my biggest cheerleader. I love you too even though you make me mad some times.
And thank you Tucson for all your support. That meant a lot to all my brothers, coaches, families and me. But for now, I am one proud Sunnysider, and I am proud of all my team.