As all of you know, I sent out a plea for people to show up Thursday. Now, we didn’t fill up the grandstand like I wanted- BUT to be fair, I’m going to give the MSU nation a pass because the weather was legitimately horrible including a small chance for tornados- but still, over 7,000 MSU fans still showed up. The other reason I’m giving MSU nation a pass is because of the over 12,000 that showed up on Friday and then the BIG day- 14,562 cowbell clanging fans showed up in full force for the SECOND LARGEST crowd for an on campus baseball game on Saturday. The Cleveland Indians are right now averaging 15,194 for reference. They’re last in MLB in attendance right now and they might have something to worry about if we keep this up! (I’m not being serious about that by the way, in case anyone is wondering) The really cool thing is we didn’t just “estimate” how many are in the outfield- we actually counted. The ticket office actually RAN OUT of printed tickets. This on the heels of MSU fan helpting to outdraw the Atlanta Braves exhibition game in Pearl, MS and setting the Trustmark Park record for attendance. Let’s keep up the great work with that and show people why MSU baseball fans have the reputation that they do.
Having crowds like that can possibly cause change- and in our case, I am hopeful that Scott Stricklin will look at making changes in the off season to policies regarding seating in the grandstand and also at Dudy-Noble Field in general. As I noted last time, a honor code policy where you buy a general admission ticket and you find an open seat and you move if a season ticket holder comes along and proves that you are sitting in their seat is the best policy for us. Games like Saturday do prove that there are times where the bleachers are necessary. What I propose happen is that the first and third base bleachers be covered with large tarps with MSU related pictures on them- say of Will Clark, maybe MSU celebrating a regional win, and maybe even put program accomplishments on them. When we have Super Bulldog Weekend or host a regional, take the tarps off. If we have a game that unexpectedly draws well for whatever reason, we need to make sure we have a system in place where the tarps come off once ticket sales hit a certain point about an hour before the game if at all possible. Others have mentioned using a terraced right field lounge and having it used as a designated student section, which is another great idea that needs to be explored and done as well.
Oh yeah- we played some baseball games too. Auburn is a team that we are better than and have more talent than on paper. Possibly because they spend all their money on football players like Cam Newton. But for whatever reason, we never seem to play all that well- or as well as we should against them. Yes, we won the series, but I would have liked to have seen us play a little bit better and if we had, maybe we sweep the series. Luis Pollorena battled in game one, but he was a little bit off, Ross came in and did a good job, but the story to me was Jonathan Holder coming in and striking out seven of the eight batters he faced. FILTHY. We kind of gambled a little bit because of the weather and the rain delay because if they had decided to resume the game, we might have lost Holder for the final two innings. Fortunately, our meteorology department at MSU is pretty darn good, and it all worked out. Wes Rea took advantage of the wind and got a home run and then MSU took advantage of four Auburn errors and pulled out the win 6-3. Our defense kind of let Pollorena down too- Auburn stole a base where we had a miscommunication issue between Brett Pirtle and Adam Frazier and instead of the runner being out by a mile, the ball goes into center field. The error went to the catcher, but it really should have been split between Pirtle and Frazier. With a runner on first, they have to communicate before the pitch as far as who is going to take the ball and who is going to back-up the play in case of a stolen base.
Game two was the kind of game I hate. It was one of those games where nothing went right. Kendall Graveman was a little bit off for him, the defense let him down a little bit- although, Graveman was the one who misplayed a bunt into an error. We did a lot of things that aren’t normal for us. You had Adam Frazier trying to backhand a ball and it goes off of his glove. You look at Graveman’s stat line- and it’s not bad. 19 ground outs, 5 strike outs, 5 fly outs. He battled and gave us a chance to win the game. But the bats didn’t come through- and we had opportunities. We were on the wrong end of a call at first base that instead of resulting in the tying run, it’s the third out. If that’s called correctly, I think it might have changed the complexion of the game a little bit. But I’m not blaming the umpire- we had some other opportunities. Wes Rea had the bases loaded and hits into a double play. Nic Ammirati gets thrown out at home trying to score after Auburn throws the ball into center field. You have to come through in those situations and you have to be smart in those situations if you want to win. I did like the fact that we brought Trevor Fitts in because he looked good and he gives us another option out of the bullpen- very nice curveball. I can see his confidence growing every time he goes out there.
The story on Saturday besides the massive attendance number was Jacob Lindgren. I’ll be honest, I didn’t recognize him without the mullet. Maybe he’s the opposite of Samson because he seems to have gained some power by cutting his hair. We talk about players turning the corner- I think there are different levels of corners. Like going from a role player to a functional starter, and then going from functional starter to an All-SEC player. I’m wondering if we didn’t see that Saturday from Jacob Lindgren- going from maybe a functional starting pitcher to maybe a really good SEC pitcher. He pitches 8.1 innings and he gets 11 strike outs and was pretty dominating. He did have a couple of rough innings where he was in trouble, but he worked out of it every single time. Easily his best game as a Bulldog up to this point. And then Holder comes in and strikes out two more players even though he loaded the bases. To me, this was our best game overall that we played. Auburn was throwing a guy with an ERA of over 6 and change, and we jump on him early. We build a five run lead and then we get into their bullpen and we tack on a run late in the game. In case you haven’t noticed- Nic Ammirati who is filling in for an injured Mitch Slauter is now hitting over .300. So, after we had a game where almost nothing went right, we had a game where just about everything went right.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the nice tribute by the baseball team to the victim’s in the Boston Marathon with the maroon hats with a Boston Red Sox style “B” on it that were worn in game one and then auctioned off for charity to the victims of that tragedy. Two thumbs up to whomevers idea that was. I work with two co-workers who are from Boston, and I’m that tragedy really hits home with them. I showed one of my co-workers the hat, and she absolutely LOVED it. Not only that, but the tribute made news in the Boston Globe and I could tell it was much appreciated by the people of Boston. I did thing it was kind of funny that we wore our New York Yankee style pinstripe uniforms with the Boston hat though. I don’t think we will see the Red Sox breaking out pinstripes any time soon.
Going forward, we are in the discussion at this point of hosting a regional and also are a candidate for a National seed, which means one of the top eight spots in the NCAA tournament, which is important because if we are a national seed and we win our regional, we will host a Super Regional no questions asked. And as life is in the SEC, this is a very difficult week ahead for us. But if we are going to win a championship, we are going to have to take advantage of opportunities and beat good teams to do it. First up we have Memphis at Autozone Park. Memphis is 6-1 against SEC teams- they have swept Ole Miss, swept Missiouri, and they split with Alabama. It’s a very important game for us from a RPI standpoint. Even though it’s a road game, I think our fans can and will outnumber the Memphis fans, and I encourage our fans in the area to show up full force because I know the team will appreciate it. And as far as minor league stadiums go- it doesn’t get much better than Autozone Park. After that, we go to Nashville for a series with one of the best teams in the SEC in Vanderbilt, who is top five in RPI. Needless to say, winning that series would be huge for us. So, same thing for the Bulldogs in Nashville and Tennessee- go out and support MSU if you can.