Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Friday, May 25.
Last night’s best game was a AAA matchup in Omaha, where the StormChasers (Royals) defeated the New Orleans Baby Cakes (Marlins) 11-10 on a walk-off home run by Jack Lopez.
When New Orleans was still known as the Zephyrs, they participated in a 24-inning game against the Nashville Sounds, a game referred to as the Music City Marathon. Under the new rules, a 24-inning minor league game will never be seen again, and more’s the pity. Lopez, who hit last night’s walk-off home run is a smallish second baseman. At age 25 he may still be considered a marginal prospect, but as a 16th-round choice his options and opportunities are limited. The game was 10-9 in favor of New Orleans until the last of the 8th when the home team managed to tie the game. Each team had a five-run inning. Omaha put up 5 in their half of the fifth, but in the 6th the visitirs countered with 5, making it a 10-9 game at that point. The Baby Cakes starting pitcher was Dillon Peters, who had tried his hand in the big leagues with the Marlins earlier in the season. This wasn’t his night, as he gave up 7 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks in just 4 innings. Nobody else did much better, including Drew Rucinski who gave up the tying run and Jumbo Diaz who allowed the winning run. Oddly, Diaz has the better ERA at 3.63 than the winning pitcher Mike Broadway. He pitched the 9th, gave up 3 hits but no runs and was the beneficiary of Lopez’ walk-off home run. Though he came off the loser, you just have to like a guy with the moxie to go through life with the name Jumbo. His given name is Jose Rafael Diaz, and sad to say, if I knew Jose Rafael Diaz was the losing pitcher, I might not have thought twice about it. At 30, Jumbo made the bigs for the first time, with the Reds. That was 4 long years ago. Officially he’s listed as standing six-four and weighing 315 pounds. He was said to weigh as much as 350 at the end of 2013, but he shed 70 pounds and joined the Reds’ AAA team in Louisville at 280 in 2014, the year he finally joined the show. He has also pitched for the Rays. He’s been a pro since the Dodgers signed him late in 2001. Like most pitchers today, Diaz has had Tommy John surgery. His operation cost him the entire 2008 campaign. He pitched a ton of AAA games from 2009 until his MLB debut 5 years later.
Today begins the Division 3 World Series in Appleton, Wisconsin. While my alma mater, Rowan University didn’t make the field of 8, I’m still interested to see who wins, as a lot of the teams in the regionals accounted for some exciting baseball. A year ago, Cal. Lutheran won it all. This year, they’re nowhere. They weren’t even in the field of 56 who battled last weekend to earn tickets to Wisconsin. All times I am about to give are in Eastern time, though Wisconsin is an hour behind me at the home office of this blog. At 11 AM today, Texas Tyler faces Oswego State. The Oswego State Lakers bludgeoned all comers, winning by such scores as 13-3, 11-4 and 10-4. But in one close game against Keystone College, they proved they could win a tight one as they prevailed 2-0. Their regional also included Ramapo, a college in northern New Jersey where one of my nephews got his education, but Ramapo was on the other side of the bracket and was beaten without facing Oswego. Their regional was so plagued by bad weather that numerous ballparks had to be found on short notice when the regular location at Harwich, MA. was deemed unplayable. Games were played at U.Mass Boston, at a park in Worcester, and at Mass. Maritime Academy in Buzzard’s Bay. Only one day’s competition occurred at Harwich, which should have had the entire 8-team regional. In today’s second game, At 2:15 Misericordia faces Randolph Macon. Misericordia, a school from Dallas, PA knocked out Rowan this past Sunday and was the only team to beat Rowan. They did it twice, once Friday night and once Sunday afternoon. Randolph Macon is a college in Ashland, VA., and as such they played in the Southern regional along with the College of New Jersey (TCNJ), a third New Jersey school in the field of 58. At 5:30, Swarthmore faces Concordia Chicago. Swarthmore also plays their games in Pennsylvania and won the New York regional which dealt with so much bad weather the finals were played on Monday. Concordia Chicago played their tournament in Duluth, at old Wade Stadium. I wonder if the teams stayed at the Black Bear Casino in Carlton, where we stayed when I worked for the St. Paul Saints. Somehow, with 30 college boys I think they stayed somewhere that didn’t have slot machines. In tonight’s last game, at 8:45 PM Eastern, Texas Lutheran faces Wooster, an Ohio school that has been a Division 3 powerhouse for decades. So you have two schools from Texas, 2 from Pennsylvania, one from upstate New York, one from Chicago, one from Ohio and one from Virginia. Two Wisconsin schools–Wisconsin Oshkosh and Wisconsin Whitewater-were in the field of 58 but neither won their regional. Still, since the Division 3 World Series is a fixture in Appleton, I expect it will be well-attended by interested and spiritful baseball fans.