Monday, May 26, 2008
"Get out of here baby!"
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.