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Monday, March 21, 2016

Div-II Baseball

This year's first baseball game wasn't a minor league game, it was college. To be specific, I went to watch the UVa Wise Cavaliers host the West Liberty Hilltoppers. It was double header, but I must admit that I left about four innings into the second when the 40 degree temperature and the spitting, frozen rain finally got to me.

In the meantime, I got to watch some decent baseball at a nice, tiny park (maybe 200 people could fit if you crammed the bleachers). I was actually a little surprised that over 50 people were there when the game started. After I left, the second game apparently turned into more of a contest (Toppers had to come back in the 9th to win 9-6), but the first game was under the Toppers control pretty much from the beginning. The Toppers' pitcher had a good arm with some speed and accuracy and while the Cavs could get some metal on the ball, they really couldn't get the pitcher in trouble until the 6th inning. Still, they only put three runs on the board and the Hilltoppers had that much just from their two homeruns (Toppers 6 Cavs 3).

Things I found of interest:

From going to minor league games, I was used to grounds keepers. Apparently, that's not the way it works in Div-II baseball. The home team did everything: raking the dirt, laying down lines, breaking down the portable batting cage, et al. And there wasn't any of this raking between innings that you see at a lot of parks. The field was as the field was once the game started.

As well, while the field was in pretty good shape, it obviously wasn't as fussed over and primped as professional fields tend to be. More than once I saw a player set up to get the ball where it should bounce to only to see the ball careen off in a weird direction. Most notably, a Cav infielder leaned down to get a screaming ground ball before the ball hit something and bounced ten feet in the air over his head.

METAL BATS – Holy crud, I didn't even know they still made metal bats.

The scoreboard was broken. This makes you pay a lot more attention to the game as you try to keep track of outs and balls/strikes. I did get a little worried at one point when it started to get dark because the clouds got thick. I was concerned that if the scoreboard was down the field lights wouldn't be working either.


All-in-all, it was a good experience which would have been a lot funner if I wasn't sitting on metal bleachers in 40 degree weather with the collar of my coat turned up and my hands crammed in its pockets (and spitting sleet/rain). Still, none of that's the UVa Cavaliers' fault. Go watch a game and support the program (if you're local). This is the kind of sport a small, local college playing higher than its level (honestly, Uva Wise should be Div-III in most sports) could actually carve a niche in. More power to them and all the luck in the world.

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