Around The Horn With Ben

March 27, 2009

I have a lot of catching up to do as I haven't updated the blog since after our first games against Oregon, so here it goes.

After the sweep of the Oregon teams, we took off for Reno, Nevada, to take on the Wolf Pack in a three-game series. As we arrived at the field Friday and got off of the bus, we were greeted by snowflakes and a stiff wind. A great outing by Jorden Merry on Friday night took us into the eighth inning all tied up with the Wolfpack. Breaking the tie was Kyle Conley with a solo bomb. Little did Nevada know this was just a start to an amazing weekend for the redshirt junior. Kyle's home run led to three more runs in the eighth. After holding the Wolf Pack offense scoreless in their half of the eighth, Pierce Rankin led off the ninth with a solo shot of his own, followed by a grand slam by second baseman Doug Cherry to put the game well out of reach. The game was a great start to the weekend, and showed Nevada the ability our hitters have to put up big numbers.

Game two of the series was a tightly contested game, and we trailed 3-2 coming into the ninth. Wilcox led off with a double, and then the Wolf Pack recorded two outs by way of the strikeout. On a two-out infield single, the Nevada shortstop threw out the pinch runner rounding second ending the comeback attempt.

After the heartbreaking game, we went to a buffet at a big casino close by. We weaved through slot machines and craps tables, and found ourselves at one of the biggest buffets I'd ever been to. With enough food choices to last a lifetime, the team sat down and pigged out. Tyler Cheney, a big fan of coconut prawns, decided to demolish 42 prawns in total ... wow.

Game three of the series was, plainly put, the Kyle Conley Show. With a final score of 7-4 and a Husky win, Conley had all seven of the RBIs. Three majestic shots into the Nevada sky by the slugger accounted for six of his seven RBIs with three-run, two-run, and solo home runs. The final run of the game came on a sacrifice fly that with a breath of Nevada wind would've blown out for his 4th of the game. Too bad Kyle, I guess you'll have to settle for just 3 bombs today.

Next up was a three-game series against the San Francisco Dons. USF came to our ballpark and handed it to us. They swept a three-game series at our place and were out of town before we knew what hit us. They played great and we played poorly. There's not much more you can say about that series.

After the San Francisco tournament, we hopped on a bus and drove down to Portland for a weekend tournament at PGE Park. There were plenty of Husky fans in town as our basketball team was playing their first games at Portland's Rose Garden. Walking down the streets of Portland to hear people scream out 'Go Dawgs!' was a good feeling.

We opened up the tournament against Hawaii, a team that we had played earlier in the season in the Metrodome during the Minnesota tournament. They beat us in extra innings in a well-contested game. Going into the ninth inning of our second meeting, we trailed by three runs and things looked grim. There was a sense of belief in the dugout that we were going to come back and win the ballgame. We strung together four hits in the ninth to score the three we needed to force extra innings. Hawaii plated two runs in the top half of the 10th, but we rallied back again in the bottom of the 10th. With runners on, there was a controversial call when our runner slid into second base to break up a double play and was called out for interference to end the game. Again we came out on the wrong end of a hard-fought, extra-inning game with Hawaii.

Game two of the tournament was a TV game against the Oregon Ducks. They broke up a no hitter with a bunt in the fourth inning. The Ducks had done this once before in Seattle after struggling to get a hit through the first few frames of the game. Both Ty Rasmussen and Pierce Rankin hit huge bombs out of the park and onto the street in left field, one smashing into a car, and one almost knocking over a passing by cyclist. After leading the whole game, we surrendered the lead in the ninth to lose another close one. The breaks seemed to all go the way of the Ducks, as flares fell in while our smashes got caught. That happens in baseball quite often but it seemed like it had been happening to us more than to our opponents.

For game three we got to face the tournament hosts, the Portland Pilots. The Pilots came into the game with offensive numbers like we hadn't seen yet this season. Almost every guy in their lineup had a batting average over .300 and even our pitching coach had told us from scouting the night before, that these guys could really swing the bats. Husky pitchers Brian Pearl and Andrew Kittredge shut down the Pilots' offense, holding them to just two runs. Pierce Rankin continued his red=hot hitting, homering in his third straight game, and the Dawgs snapped their losing streak, beating the Pilots 5-2.

In the final game of the tournament, we got another crack at the Oregon Ducks. Tyler Cheney had the ball for the second meeting of the tournament, and fourth meeting of the season against the Ducks. We jumped on them early, scoring four runs in the top half of the first inning. Tyler Cheney and Aaron West both pitched masterfully in the win, running the season series with the Ducks to three wins and one loss. Winning the final two games of the tournament and pitching well gave us a boost of confidence heading home to take on #10 ranked UC Irvine for a two-game series.

Game one of the two-game series was played on a rainy and windy night in Seattle. These nights are never good to pitch in, especially when the wind is blowing out. Along with Irvine's staff, The Husky pitchers were uncharacteristically wild. The control problems helped the Husky hitters to score 12 runs through the first 5 innings. If you score 12 runs in the first five frames, generally you're going to be on the winning end of a blowout, but not in this game. The Anteaters came back to tie it up at 13 going into the ninth inning and ended up plating four runs before the inning was over. Final score: 17-13. It was one of the wildest games I'd ever been a part of. It was a game full of free passes and smashed baseballs while all the while, two pretty good pitching staffs were on the mound giving up crazy amounts of walks and hits.

The second game of the mid-week series against UC Irvine got off to a rough start. The Anteater hitters scored five in the first off of Adrian Gomez. He battled back and held them scoreless for the next three innings, long enough for us to get back into the game. The game was full of big hits for the Huskies. Kyle Conley hit a three-run home run for his eighth on the season; David Bentrott juiced a ball out of the park to the opposite field for a solo shot, and Aaron Russell, connected for two line-drive home runs. The homers were his first and second of the year, the second being a grand slam to take the lead in the seventh. Brady McGuire also notched his first career hit as a Husky, just beating out the throw on a double in the fifth. Seth Haehl pitched a great three and a third innings in relief in his longest outing thusfar as a Husky. The bullpen tried to let Irvine back into the game, but on a freak play in the nine inning, when an Irvine player doubled, Husky first baseman Troy Scott saw him miss first base. On the appeal, the runner was called out, and we went on to win the game by a run. We were finally on the right side of a one-run ballgame, and had caught a break to put us there. In a series where both teams thought the games would be low scoring games, 2-1 or 3-2, 55 runs were scored, showing you what a crazy game baseball is.

Well, we're off to Palo Alto, California, to open up Pac-10 games against Stanford. We play three games this weekend. I'll catch you up on the action afterwards.

Until next time Dawg fans,
Ben Guidos

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