Aggie baseball didn’t get off to a good start this season. They lost their first two games. I listened to the Friday night game and heard a bit of Nolan Fox flying solo, calling the first game of a double header on Saturday. I had some opportunity to go to the second baseball game after going to the women’s basketball game in the afternoon, but after I got dropped off back home, I had no desire to go back out. Sorry, Aggie athletics.
I feel like that was a good decision. It got cold and windy and the whole double header went from 2:00 in the afternoon to 10:00 at night. I’m not an iron man like broadcaster, Adam Young, who went from calling the basketball game to calling that second baseball game. Also, I got to hear the Aggie men’s basketball game where they gave up over 100 points, but still won.
I did get to hear what may be the weird play of the season for baseball. A Bryant Bulldog player hit what would have been a game-tying three-run homer, except he passed the first base runner, as both were watching the ball go out. Here’s the reason you listen to the radio broadcast, even when you’re at the ballgame, because nobody in the stands likely figured out what happened. The batter was ruled out (3 unassisted) and credited with a single and two RBI’s. That lost run was the difference in the 9th as Ruger Rodriguez came in with the bases loaded and one out and the Aggies up by a run. He shut the door. The Aggies won 4-3. Ouch. What do you say to the team as a coach in that situation?
The weather forecast was never promising for Sunday, but the sun was playing peek-a-boo enough to make you think that it might be a nice day anyway. It was in the 50’s with a breeze. Not wanting to miss all of the Opening Weekend, I layered up and took a windbreaker in case the predicted rain showed up. There were a couple of buses in front of the softball stadium. I wish somebody at the university would have published the full schedule for the softball tournament and not just the Aggies’ games. I guess I could have went to the guest teams’ websites and reconstructed it, but with baseball and basketball, I wasn’t going to be seeing the other games anyway. Still, I was interested in the other games since getting one ticket for the day could get you into several games.
The baseball parking lot had a few RV’s parked there. This was one goal of the coach, Brian Green. He wants tailgaters at home games. You know what Sundays at the park means: $1 hot dogs. From what I saw during the game, they sold plenty. With that discount, I went ahead and tried something new with it: corn in a cup. It’s corn in a cup, obviously, but with melted cheese on top. It’s good too.
I was hoping to talk to Adam Young at some point and ran right into him after getting my lunch. He still remembers me. (I’m guessing sports broadcasters have to be pretty good with names and faces.) I wanted to tell him that I’d enjoyed his commenting on the volleyball and basketball this season. I was especially impressed with his volleyball call, and he confirmed that is a very hard sport to broadcast. I also found out that Kaylee Neal was doing an internship with the basketball team, somewhat clearing up that mystery. I actually got to tell him something about the basketball, relating the story of Brooke and the brave trumpet player, which he’d missed while being focused on production. I probably could have chatted for a while about various sports, but one of us needed to get up to the radio booth.
You could tell it was Opening Weekend since the bunting was out and a big crowd came for the game. There were families and individuals like myself. Some smart people brought blankets with them. There were plenty of young attractive women, as usual. I didn’t see lovely Megan Hart from the volleyball team, who’s not hard to spot at 6’5”, but I think I saw a couple other members of the team. (I was too shy to talk to them.) The softball team wasn’t there on their day off, but maybe they were watching their next opponent at the softball field. (Which I now realize may mean I passed up an opportunity to sit with them there. Damn.) The trees behind the outfield wall seemed a bit more filled in, but I could still see the orange of the
softball team at the softball stadium facing the ballpark. It’s too bad Ron wasn’t able to come. I don’t think his nemesis, the loud old man,
was there. I didn’t see Ron’s “niece”
either. He would have missed her.
There’s a new Diamond Club section along the left field line. They took down the pavilions that were out there, which I’m thinking they regretted in the third inning. We’ll get to that. Also new is the female PA for the ballpark. She did a good, well-spoken, enthusiastic job for the game. I don’t know if she meant to, but her Aggie player at-bat introductions sounded more flirtatious than excited. The guys probably liked it. For the anthem, the Aggie players stood along the third base line. After the music finished, they waited three beats and then all left as one unit. It looked good. They formed a circle and let out a cheer before the game started. Play ball!
Marcel Renteria took the mound for the Aggies. He has his own cheering section in the stands, likely consisting of his parents. I figured Bryant would come in angry after last night’s loss. Their second batter of the game blasted a home run. The wind was blowing out for most of the game. Balls in the air had a tendency to float and carry in the outfield all day. In the second, they doubled in another run. 2-0 Bryant.
Then the bottom of the second happened. This was one of those times I was happy to see my scorecard destroyed and confused as the Aggies sent 12 men to the plate. They scored 8 runs on, get this, on two hits. In order for this to happen the Bulldogs had to give up five walks, one hit by pitch, an error, a passed ball, and a wild pitch. Bryant pretty much pounded the self-destruct button, but credit Dan Hetzel for the big blow, a three-run home run. He’d be pleased to know the girls behind me liked him even before the home run. (They made some comment about “Hetzel’s Pretzels.” I don’t know what they were referring to. I’m just going to leave it at that.) 8-2 Aggies.
What’s amazing is that the only other hit, which started the scoring, was an easy Brent Sakurai fly ball that the left fielder completely lost in the sky. That was the biggest mistake of the inning and it wasn’t even an error. I can’t be too critical though. I lost just about every ball that fouled back. It was a difficult sky, alternating between heavy clouds and sunlight constantly.
Of course, all this took quite a while to play out. The Bulldogs went through three pitchers in the inning, along with many catcher and coach visits to the mound. The fans were into the game, but given the weather conditions, they weren’t happy with all the delays. The Bryant fans got on the ump for the strike zone. The Aggie fans wanted the ump to pick up the pace of play.
An ominous rain cloud rolled overhead to start the third. Men’s basketball coach, Paul Weir, and his family made an appearance. His little toddler son motored around all over the place. I thought I recognized him, but wasn’t sure until Adam and Nolan mentioned it. I was looking for an opportunity to say, “Hi coach, nice win last night,” but they left after a half inning. As the temperature dropped and the skies became more threatening, I don’t blame him. A little PA recognition wouldn’t have been a bad idea when he came in, especially with team coming off a win.
In the bottom of the inning, the Aggies tacked on another run. 9-2 Aggies. The Bulldogs made another pitching change. “How many pitchers do you guys have?” I heard from the crowd. I didn’t record things right on the scorecard with their pitchers at the time. I gave up trying to reconstruct it. The cold was making my nose drip, but I refused to use my new Aggie hoodie to wipe with. Suddenly, there’s sprinkles and my scorecard was getting wet. I quickly put on my windbreaker to protect the hoodie.
Gasp! OMG! OMG! Can it be? Ashley Ford, women’s basketball assistant coach/goddess, is in the house. This is it! This is my moment. My chance has come! She walked up the stairs and went directly into the pressbox. I didn’t see her for the rest of the game.
That was disappointing.
Sigh. Back to baseball.
A nice double play finished off the top of the inning. The rain went back to sprinkles, as the cloud had moved on. I started hearing loud music and announcements. The game at the softball field had started. I could see
Tennessee players, but never
saw their opponents. Were they wearing
camouflage? I could even hear the girls
cheering at times during their game.
The Aggies batted around again in the bottom of the fourth. They were aided by two hit batters, three walks, a wild pitch, and an error. Two hits drove in five runs, including a two-run shot by Mason Fishback. The Bulldogs had to burn another pitcher. 14-2 Aggies.
“Stacy’s mom has got it going on!” This came on at my game during the break. I hope that song becomes a ballpark staple. Okay, by this point the game had been pretty much decided, but that didn’t mean the scoring stopped. The Bulldogs tacked on a run in the fifth. In the sixth, I knew the Aggie trivia question, but not being anywhere near the press box, I had no chance at getting the prize. The Aggies put up two more runs with passed balls, a wild pitch, and a walk again aiding them. Bieber’s “Sorry” played over at the softball field to end our inning. 16-3 Aggies.
Oooh, I saw a gentleman wearing a retro Brewers hat. It looked completely sweet. By the seventh, a parade of one-inning relievers appeared for both sides for the rest of the game. The most effective of the Aggie relievers was Chris Butcher with a no drama 9th inning, though there was a great catch by a fan in the Diamond Club. The others gave up four runs, including a three-run homer. More walks and an error gave the Aggies two runs in the seventh. In the eighth, the Aggies finally got an honest inning of scoring with three hits, including a Brent Sakuri two-run homer. Our final was Aggies 20, Bulldogs 7. That would have been a good game for the Aggie football team on the road.
Several of the Bryant Bulldogs had a good game hitting, but the pitching and defense were so bad today, it didn’t matter. My defensive player of the game for the Aggies was Marcel Renteria. He went six innings, giving up three runs in the win. Given the wind blowing out, it was a good outing. Marcel certainly showed what he was made of in the third. After two easy outs, an error and passed ball put two runners on. He got a strikeout to end the inning without allowing a run. There’s several choices for offensive player, but I’m picking Brent Sakurai. He scored four times, drove in three runs, and hit a home run. We’re waiting to see what his mom sends from
Hawaii to give the team
good luck this year.
The game ran in a nice tidy three hours, 40 minutes. This was one brutal four game series, likely running over 15 hours total. You know it was bad when the broadcasters were lamenting this game wasn’t subject to a run rule or a curfew. I couldn’t hold it any longer and ran to the bathroom in the eighth. On the way back, I noticed the baseball posters got rained on. Then they got picked up before the end of the game, so I should have gotten them when I came in. I thought I’d read that there was an autograph session after this game, but that didn’t happen to my knowledge. I was tired and had a bit of exposure by the end, but God help me, I was still was happy to be back at the ballpark.