Extra Innings - West Coast Edition
March 16, 2011
Well, since Rob “Tough Guy” Froio called me out in last week’s post, I guess it’s my turn to take a crack at the whole blogging thing. After all the unnecessary shots taken at A.J. Miller and I last week, what this post should be is a laundry list of personal attacks aimed at Rob. But, since I’m such a classy guy, I’ve decided to take the high road and continue to let him be the one to do the talking behind the computer screen. With that out of the way, it’s time to recap the first half our very busy spring break trip to Los Angeles.
This past Wednesday, we lost a close game to Rider in Flemington, N,J. The game was played in what AJ “Jimmy” Miller described as the coldest weather in which he’s ever played, and you can trust me when I say that was really cold considering, in our four years here, we have played in the snow at James Madison and in freezing temperatures on numerous occasions. After a perfect three innings from starter Mike “No Nickname” Massa, we jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning and then we saw disappear in the bottom half of the frame after Rider had a big seven-run inning. After battling back to tie it up, a Rider home run in the bottom of the eighth was enough to hold us off.
It was a quick turn around after Wednesday’s game as we headed out to Southern California on Thursday afternoon for eight games in the Golden State. Spring break is arguably the most anticipated time of the year for a northeast baseball team. Not only does it give us a chance to get away from the miserable 30-degree weather in “beautiful” Easton, Pa. and into actual baseball weather, but we also get to play some teams that we normally would not. To pass the time during the 90-minute bus ride, the two-hour wait in the airport terminal, and the six-hour flight to LAX, many different approaches were used. The more conservative players listened to iPods, slept or read books and magazines. Some of the more unorthodox activities included Alex “Gus” Bechta and Kevin McCarville continued to apply the prisoner’s dilemma to every possible situation and Eric “E.A.” Anderson played Pokémon on his laptop. However, my favorite use of the time had to be putting food into the mouths of sleeping targets. Jeff “Earthworm Jim” Snell is the perfect target due to the fact that he sleeps like he is having his teeth examined by the dentist with his mouth wide open. A.J. Miller and I were sure to reward him for this by surprising him with a Twix bar, which he awkwardly bit into upon waking up. On the plane, Snell got his revenge by victimizing both Brian Davila and Eric Anderson, also open-mouth sleepers, using mini chocolate chip cookies.
When we got to LAX we waited outside baggage claim for the coaches to bring the vans for about two hours before we finally made our way to the hotel. Now, in terms of the Rob Froio Hotel Ranking System, our hotel was among the best we’ve ever stayed in. I would give the beds an A-, as they were very comfortable. The breakfast spread was nothing short of spectacular with omelets, scrambled eggs, bacon, homefries, sausage and each day also had a wildcard dish highlighted by breakfast potato skins which none of us even knew existed. Topped off by a nice hot tub for use after a long day at the field, I would say we did alright in terms of living arrangements.
On a gorgeous Friday afternoon, we opened up at four-game set against Cal State Northridge, which turned out to be a great series. With help from a solid start by Zach Fritz, we were able to grab the first game of the series. The game was a big win for us, because up until that point we had been on the losing end of a couple of games just like that, so it certainly did a lot for the confidence of our guys to come out on top of a close game. On Saturday the team made its way to Compton, where we suffered a tough couple of losses. Despite losing the nightcap of the doubleheader was one of the most exciting games I have been a part of in my baseball career. After falling behind 7-5 in the bottom of the third, Sean McGrath took the mound and was virtually unhittable, keeping the Matadors off the scoreboard for 5.1 innings in which he racked up 10 strikeouts. With McGrath keeping the game within reach we had numerous opportunities to tie it up but in the end Northridge held us off for a 7-6 loss. On Sunday we salvaged the series split by getting a 5-3 win in what was a great all-around performance of pitching, hitting and a solid defense.
After our series at Northridge we went to the house of former Lafayette third basemen Justin Shepherd in Bel-Air. Now since it was in Bel-Air you can imagine that this place really wasn’t very nice…
All kidding aside, this house was ridiculously nice and the view of L.A. from his backyard (which was equipped with pool, hot tub, barbecue, and basketball court) was like something from a postcard. The Shepherds were nice enough to feed the entire team and parents, so thank you Shepherds if you’re reading this. After dinner, our beloved Coach G. [Gregg Durrah] had to hop on a flight back to Pennsylvania, so he will not be with us for the rest of the week.
On Monday, the team enjoyed a day off and took the time to explore Southern California. The most interesting place we visited Venice Beach. Let’s just say there were some characters parading around this place. From the guy dressed up like a native carrying around a club on muscle beach to the homeless guy on rollerblades playing electric guitar to an actual freakshow, where there was a sword-swallowing man, a “rubber” girl and some two-headed animals. All-in-all, Venice Beach was probably the most interesting place I never want to see again. Other players took the more conservative route and went to Hollywood and Rodeo Drive in search of celebrities.
Sadly, our stay in L.A. was not long-lived as we made our way out to the sticks of Bakersfield, Calif., where there isn’t much to do. We open up four-game set against Cal State Bakersfield on Wednesday, so check back next week for a recap of that series. Roll ‘Pards.