In the top of the 12th inning, at close to midnight on a perfect Kentucky evening, North Carolina scored two runs as IU committed a couple of really big errors. The big blow was a double by Joe Dunand, the nephew of A-rod. Still, IU could have gotten out of the inning without the errors.
So you can imagine the hush that came over Hagan stadium, where despite the late hour it was still mostly filled. Craig took the first pitch, and then on the second, a high outside fastball, he cracked a shot down the left field line. Miller scored and Craig wound up with a triple. Logan Sowers, the big right fielder who had two doubles on the night, struck out to end the nearly five-hour game.
There was a good 20-minute delay in the third inning when a NC State player tipped a foul ball that hit a photographer in the head. It happened right in front of the IU stands where I was sitting. We could see it all happen, like in slow motion. Here’s the pitch. Here’s the line foul toward the top of the IU dugout. It’s heading right for a heavy photographer who’s either looking through his two-foot lens or just did.
And then there was this thud. After a while, I will probably forget the details of the moment. I won’t remember later that there was a wire taped to the top of the dugout where all of the photogrphers and vidographers were standing – and there were many of them.
I probably won’t remember later that a guy in front of us was telling us to “watch #39. I wrote a letter to the St. Louis Cardinals telling them how good he is.” I won’t remember the sublime beauty of the sunset that was just starting over the right field fence.
I will always remember, however, the sound of that line drive hitting the rather portly photographer in the left side of the top of his head. It was more than a thud. The closest I could describe it is if you picked up a two-by-four and karate chopped it over the head of your fiercest rival. Think of that sound, the three or four of you, and you still won’t even be close to the “watermelon thud,” as one fan described it.
It’s the sounds that radio guys remember, not the sights. That’s just how it is.
… I did the radio show yesterday. Alexis came on and we laughed for a while. It’s finally sunny and warm in the Region and that always makes you feel relief. It’s not so much the delight in the beauty of the green along the Little Calumet River or the familiarity of the rush of traffic sound on the Borman. It’s just a relief that life isn’t filled entirely with windy, cloudy days in which the rain slaps your face sideways.
And it’s beautiful down here in Lexington. My nephew is a senior. It’s his last go-round with IU baseball. Alexis and I travelled to Phoenix to see IU lose twice to Oregon State in close games – they’re #1 in the country – and to twice beat Gonzaga, who is also in the NCAA field of 64. And we travelled to Michigan, Northwestern and Ohio State to see him play. But Alexis had a court case and couldn’t come.
My buddy Loftee, whom I traded with for a bunch of years at the Board of Trade, came with me down here. He and I share an affliction – we love sports. He also loves horses, so at some point today I’m going to find myself riding around looking at horse farms. I don’t mind. But I’m pretty sure I’d rather try to sneak into Rupp Arena with my camera or read all of the baseball box scores in the Kentucky Journal than drive around looking at horse farms.
But don’t the three or four of you tell Loftee that. He picked me up and drove the whole way – “I really don’t like being in a car when I’m not driving.” So, between naps, I got to take in the flat farmland of southern Indiana and the rolling hills of northern Kentucky. I arrived rested and relieved. There is sunshine in the world. I know it because I saw it for six hours from the passenger seat of a Volkswagen Passat. There are few other people in the world who could sit through four hours and 42 minutes of a college baseball game. I don’t care how exciting it is, or how much is on the line, it’s still a stretch.
Now I don’t know if the three or four of you are baseball fans, but as far as beauty, competition and having a ton on the line, last night’s game was hard to beat. What’s also on the line is where my nephew is gonna get drafted next week. Last year, the Pirates took him in the 34th round. This year, though, Craig’s average dropped from over .300 to .256. That’s a significant drop, but then again he’s hit 17 homers this year compared to five last year.
And last night’s triple in a clutch situation had to help. It was close to midnight here in Lexington, which is in the Eastern time zone, so you gotta believe much of the college baseball nation was watching his triple on ESPN. IU may have lost, but his triple last night in the 12th inning to the opposite field then the relatively fast gallop around the bases could actually have pushed him up a round or two.
Now I know what the one baseball fan out of the three or four of you is thinking – how do you even know he’s gonna get drafted again?
That’s a valid question. And there is the possibility that he doesn’t get drafted at all. He may be signed to the Gary Railcats by the fourth of July.
But then again he’s 6-foot-5, with decent speed and power and a good baseball IQ. Someone will take a shot. I hope it’s the Cardinals. Manager Mike Metheny’s kid, Jake, plays on IU so you have to know that the Cardinals are aware of him. It’s not that I have any special love for the Cardinals. It’s just that if he were by some Dedelow miracle to make it to the pros, it would be within driving distance.
We can dream, I suppose. For now, I gotta get up and go look at horse farms. And then at noon IU plays Ohio University in the losers bracket. I made it clear to Loftee that no matter what happens, as soon as IU loses their second game in this double-elimination tournament, we’re out of Lexington. If they stumble against Ohio, we could be back on the Kentucky State Parkway by 3pm. Alexis and I could go out for a late dinner at Theo’s. I hope it doesn’t happen. But it could.