UT Baseball Heads to MAC Tournament

Rocket Digest reporter Ned Wright witnessed his first Rocket baseball game in 32 years when he watched the Rockets defeat Ball State 8-7 Saturday. Read on for some thoughts from Ned on the UT baseball team.

To be perfectly honest I had not been to a Rocket baseball game in 32 years until last Saturday (5/22/10). All my recent support for Rocket athletics has been confined to men's basketball and football, and women's tennis, track, swimming, and basketball. I am a die hard Mud Hens and Tiger fan and I am use to a high level of play on the diamond so I really couldn't totally picture in my mind what I was about to see as I drove over to Scott Park from my home in Old Orchard. The Scott Park campus is the home of UT men's baseball and women's soccer and softball.

I must say I was totally surprised to see the really high level of play executed on the field. Once I got use to the ping of the aluminum bat I settled in for a great 8-7 win by UT that cemented 2nd place in the west division and a high seed going into this week's MAC baseball playoffs.

It was a beautiful day at Scott Park and there were approximately 300 fans on hand with 250 or so cheering the Rockets on in this critical game. Ball State had a small but vocal contingent present. For those of you in the Rocket Digest nation the Scott Park ball park is easily accessible off Parkside and Nebraska. Parking is free and abundant and admission is only $3.00. For those of you on a tight budget the ticket booth closes after the third inning and one can watch 6 innings of high quality ball free.

There is a nice snack counter available with both hot and cold goodies. The announcers keep the before game and between inning atmosphere festive with good tunes and banter. College games move really fast like high school since between inning down time is kept to an absolute minimum.

The aluminum bat creates high scoring games because of abundant balls through the gap and many line shot home runs. The home runs witnessed today were not the towering shots often seen at the major league level but low liners that just clear the fence. Sharp fielding and alert play were the rule of the day.

The ball field is symmetrical (330 down lines, 400 center, and 370 alleys) but is unique in two ways. One is that there is no dirt or brick dust down the lines and there is no on-deck circle. The dirt infield is not connected to the circular dirt area batters box and the on-deck circle is where the major league "in the hole" batter warms-up. The stands consist of 3 sections with each capable of holding about 200 fans. The aluminum stands are in good shape and are clean. The press box is directly behind home plate. The outfield is ringed by deep green white-pines that provide a very nice sound barrier from Parkside Blvd. The trees also provide and a decent background for the hitter. Everything seems to be to the hitter's advantage in college ball. The field is well cared for and verdant. It appears to be a very nice field and I did not witness a single errant hop so the field must be leveled and rolled to a consistently flat plane. UT also provides a free statistical and line-up sheet for the fans. It is available at the top of the steps behind the back-stop.

My Saturday experience rejuvenated my desire to see more Rocket baseball. Corey Mee, in his seventh season, seems to be doing one hell of a job as manager. The future of Rocket baseball is bright.

Rocket baseball has now whetted my thirst for more untried sports. UT women's softball volleyball are next - perhaps followed by men's cross country and golf!

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