Monday, May 26, 2008
OK, I am just now starting to recover from this past weekends Southland Conference Baseball Tournament. The Kats completed a sweep through the field winning four straight games to advance to the NCAA tournament.
A year ago we were shipped to Oxford for the regional, and that weekend was a blast. I called all four games on the radio for that. It was the first time I had done play-by-play for baseball in over a year, and I remembered how much I loved calling baseball.
The third game of the tournament was an 11-inning game against Southern Mississippi. The Kats trailed 7-1 going into the bottom of the seventh and put four runs on the board to cut the lead to 7-5. They then scored two in the 8th to tie the game up.
In the top of the ninth, Southern Miss put two on the board to go back up, only to watch as the Kats put two on the board to force extra innings. After the Eagles scored in the top of the 10th the Kats had to rally again.
In the top of the 11th, the number 9 hitter for the Eagles, who had a .100 something batting average hit a solo shot to center and you just started wandering if it was going to be the Kats' day. But just like they had done the previous four innings, the Kats rallied. This time they scored two in the bottom of the 11th to win the game and advance to the regional final against Ole Miss.
That was the most nerve-racking and exciting game to call and I get chills when I think about that game. I never thought I would experience anything like that again.
Well it took less than a year to get that feeling again. Friday night's semifinal against A&M-Corpus Christi may not have been on the same level as the Southern Miss game in term of the constant comebacks, but it was close, and the excitement level was certainly about on par.
It started in the 7th once again, with the Kats down 2-1. Seth Hammock hit a solo shot to left to tie the game back up. However, the Islanders answered back with a two-out, three-run homer in the top of the eighth.
While a lot of teams would have been done by a crushing blow like that, the Kats seemed undaunted by it. They put together a rally in the bottom of the 8th, scoring three, two of those with two outs.
After a 1-2-3 ninth, the bottom of the frame, and a trip to the SLC Championship game was set up for a dramatic finish. During the break, I looked at the three other guys in the booth with me and told them I have never called a walkoff on the radio before. I then told them Keith Stein was going to do it.
Ryan Weber drew a walk to start in inning and then Todd Sebek moved him to second, to bring Stein to the plate. The senior wasted no time. On the first pitch he saw, a curveball, Stein sent a shot over the wall in right-center to put the Kats in the championship.
Afterwards, I couldn't even remember what the call was when the ball left the yard. I have to go back after the press conference to listen to me yelling "Get out of here baby!" as the ball sailed over the wall. It was pure emotion that had been building as the game progressed. The call on Hammock's blast was the same way, but the Stein call was complete raw emotion.
I don't think I could have asked for a better game, a better situation or a better team to have my first walkoff call.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Dustin Martin is off to a good start playing for the New Britain Rock Cats. Martin was not projected to be a starter for the AA Twins affiliate, but he made an immediate impact and has been a regular ever since.
Martin made his Double-A debut on April 5, when he went 1-for-3 with a double. He went on to hammer out 13 hits in his first six games. That included a four-hit performance on the road in Portland on April 12 that put his then league leading average at the time at .619 (13-21).
In 32 games with the Rock Cats Martin is hitting .315 which is second on the team among Rock Cat regulars. He is third on the team in RBIs (26), hits (40) and runs (23).
Jordan Tata is still attempting to recover from a broken hand suffered during spring training. Tata, who aw time with the Tigers last season is currently playing for the Class A affiliate Lakeland Flying Tigers.
He has made just two appearances this season, getting touched up pretty good in his first outing. On April 22, he worked just 1/3 of an inning walking 4 and allowing four earned runs. He worked again May 14 and went two innings, picking up the win,
Robert Manuel has gotten the call up to AA ball in the Cincinnati Reds organization playing now for the Chattanooga Lookouts.
He has made 13 appearances this season, all out of the bullpen and has been nearly lights out. Manuel has worked 18 innings this season, allowing just two earned runs giving him a 1.00 ERA.
One of the things that made Manuel a strong prospect causing the Reds to trade for him was his strikeout-to-walk ratio and once again that mark is solid. He has fanned 22 batters this season while allowing just three walks.
Manuel has also picked up a win this season as well. He worked three scoreless innings on April 28 to get the win.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
What got me started was Nelson Figueroa, the New York pitcher. He was a little miffed last night for what he perceived to be excessive cheering from the Washington Nationals.
Said Figueroa after he was tagged for six runs and allowed five walks:
"They were cheering in the dugout like a bunch of softball girls," he said. "I
am a professional, I take great offense to that. ... They won tonight, but in
the long run, look who they are, a last-place team."
Maybe Figueroa needs to look at who he really is, a 33-year-old journey man pitcher who carries a career 9-20 record and a 4.17 ERA. In his last seven outings, Figueroa has an ERA over 8. Oh and guess what Figgy, professionals don't call other players a "bunch of softball girls."
You just got your ass beat by a last-place team. Maybe if you worried about your pitching and not what the other team was doing in the dugout, you might have been able to at least escape with a no decision. Instead, you fall to 2-3 on the season and your ERA is up over five.
You may be a professional for now, but if you keep getting spanked by a "bunch of softball girls" the next time your name makes it on the bottom line will be in the transactions when you are designated for assignment.