Around The Horn With Ben

March 6, 2009

Throughout the season, UW sophomore pitcher Ben Guidos will check in with gohuskies.com, updating fans on the team's travels with a player's view of the season. In this edition, Ben tells us about the Diamond Dawgs' trip to Minneapolis and their two-game, home-opening series against Oregon, in which Ben picked up a victory as the starter in game two. Here's what he has to say:

We took off for Minnesota Wednesday morning. We landed and, stepping off the plane, realized just how cold it was there. There was standing water in the ramp from the plane to the terminal, and it was frozen! After we got our bags we took our first steps into the cold to board our bus.

Then it became clear why all of our games would be played where the Minnesota Twins play, in the Metrodome. The cold got to you even after a short 30-second walk from the terminal to the bus.

On Thursday we went to lunch at the Mall of America. We had a very tasty meal at Famous Dave's and then had time to roam the mall for a little while. Our shopping time was cut short because of the fact that earlier that day we had scheduled an extra game against Wisconsin Whitewater, a division three team that we ended up beating 16-2.

On the weekend we ended up losing all three tournament games. We lost to Hawaii, Minnesota, and UC Santa Barbara respectively. We made numerous costly errors on the weekend, not only in the field, but at bat in crucial situations, on the base paths, and on the mound.

Both Hawaii and Minnesota beat us in the bottom of the ninth. The heartbreaking losses left us with a terrible feeling for the trip home. We pulled into campus, unpacked our things and had a team meeting. Coach Knutson gave us some pointers on how to get through a tough stretch like this, and Coach Miller inspired us with a challenge to work harder everyday and get back to doing things the right way.I think all of us were ready to do whatever we could to get out of the rut that we were in and get back to playing Husky Baseball.

Our Tuesday and Wednesday games brought us more success. We faced the Oregon Ducks for the first time since they cut their baseball program 28 years ago.

Adrian Gomez took the mound for game one of the non-conference meeting between us and the Ducks. A steady mix of his pitches kept the Duck hitters off balance long enough for our Husky hitters to get him a lead. Doug Cherry wore a fastball square in the ribs to reach first before being singled home by Jake Rife for our first run of the game.

Later, Pierce Rankin continued his hot hitting and doubled to plate two more runs. Pierce would later score on a Kyle Conley sacrifice fly bringing the score to 4-1. The Ducks threatened late scoring in both the seventh and eighth, but the bullpen held the lead and Brian Pearl came in to record his first save of the year. The final score was 5-3.

I took the hill Wednesday in game two of the series. I was amped up for my first start of the season, especially after seeing the kind of success Gomez had the day before. After holding the Ducks scoreless through two innings, birthday boy and my travel roommate Troy Scott smashed a solo home run deep to centerfield to give us a 1-0 lead.

My no-hitter got broken up in the fourth by a bunt single, which I misplayed by not covering first base in time. I came out after the sixth inning surrendering only the bunt single, thinking what could have been if I had made that play.

The offense exploded for 17 hits and 10 runs. Every Husky starter registered a hit in the game. The pitching was not to be outdone by the hitters as Geoff Brown and Jacob Clem both registered hitless innings. Going into the ninth, the staff had combined for a one-hit shutout. After a rough ninth inning we finished by giving up a total of three hits and two runs -- not a shutout, but still a very good pitching performance.

The sweep of the non-conference, home meeting between us and the Ducks was just what we needed to gain our confidence back. Gomez coming out and throwing well in the home opener was big in getting us rolling, and when the hitters press the defense by smashing balls all over the field, we're going to be a tough team to beat.

I'll check in again after we complete our weekend road series against Nevada and our midweek games against Gonzaga.

Until next time Dawg fans,
Ben Guidos

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