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Catching Up With UConn Baseball

March 8, 2011

San Diego, Calif: We haven't been very good at connecting so far this season. I'm not referring only to our knack for striking out, or our sub-.250 team batting average. On our Thursday, February 24th evening trip to Corpus Christi, Texas, we made it to Dallas, but our connecting flight into Corpus Christi was canceled. In order to make the 2 pm game on Friday, we checked into the airport hotel at 1:30 a.m., slept a few hours (maybe), and got an early morning flight to San Antonio.

That put us within striking distance of Corpus, but we still had a two-and-a-half hour bus ride to Whataburger Field. We went straight to the park, changed into uniform, and the game against Oregon State was moved back a half hour so we could eat a lunch before playing. Our bags and equipment made it along with us, but it appeared we forgot to pack our bats in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Beavers.

The next day, not connecting with much of anything remained a central theme. Matt Barnes struck out nine Hoosiers in a fine start, but we whiffed eleven times, and tallied just six hits in the game. A three-run homerun erased our 1-0 lead, and we were beaten 3-1.

Just as I was considering applying to be a Middle East peace envoy, or Charlie Sheen's life skills coach, Sunday was again good to us. We connected for seven runs on nine hits, and Greg Nappo, Will Jolin, and Kevin Vance combined on a 7-0 shutout of the host Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders. Despite giving up a grand total of five runs in the three-game tournament, we went a frustrating 1-2 for the second consecutive weekend.

We had to wait until Monday morning to fly out, and after our tumultuous trip down to the Lone Star State, we all were a bit apprehensive about our chance of seeing Storrs without any mishaps. Due to a mistake by the gate agents back in Dallas on Friday morning, we had to leave our ace administrator, Vaughn Williams behind (albeit with a $400 travel voucher) in Corpus. The rest of the team split up on two separate flights in order to reunite at DFW, and we finally made it back to Bradley that evening. We returned to campus just in time for Mike Nemeth to be honored as an All-American at Gampel Pavilion during the women's game, and for about half the team to be recognized for achieving 3.0 GPAs over the course of the last year.



We had three productive days of practices and midterms (I hope, at least - grades will be posted soon), and then it was off for the spring break trip to sunny San Diego. We departed campus at 7:45 a.m. this past Friday, and headed for our home away from home in February and March - Bradley International Airport. The flight to Dulles outside Washington, DC was uneventful, and we touched down before lunch time. The guys and I were planning on a leisurely lunch before getting our connecting flight to San Diego later that afternoon.

Then, I got a frightening phone call. One of our pitchers was choking in a bathroom in a different terminal, and medics were tending to him. I hustled to his location, and he was already in an ambulance. I joined him for an unplanned side trip to the Reston Hospital Center in Virginia. Apparently, some of his chicken from lunch didn't quite make it to his stomach and was lodged in his esophagus. Although stable and speaking, he and I weren't going anywhere until he could swallow. The rest of our travel party was boarded and on the way, but we missed our connection.

About four hours later, after several medications were applied topically, and pushed in an intravenous tube, the chicken reached its original planned destination, and we were cleared to scurry and try to reach ours. Around 4:30 p.m., a very scary episode was resolved, and our right-hander and I were doing our best to get a cab back to Dulles in time for the last direct flight to San Diego at 5:27 p.m. on United. Our cabbie got a ten dollar tip on a twenty dollar fare for flooring it, and we did our best O.J. - Hertz commercial (click here to see the original) impression and made the flight by the skin of our teeth. I didn't allow him to so much as eat a peanut on the five-hour flight to the West Coast, while I enjoyed an in-flight dinner (they still do exist...for an exorbitant fee) while watching The King's Speech (Dr. Logue was one heck of a coach). After literally "gutting out" a tough afternoon, our pitcher deservedly slept off the medications given and we finally caught up to the team at the Town & Country Hotel around 11 p.m. Eastern time (8 p.m. Pacific).

After a tumultuous beginning to the trip, we connected well enough in a victory over San Diego State on Saturday behind a good outing from Elliot Glynn, and a very tidy relief appearance by Dave Fischer. Nick Ahmed and Mike Nemeth had eight of our seventeen hits, and although we left thirteen runners on, we scored nine and overcame a deficit to win 9-3.

We stayed undefeated on Sundays in 2011 with a very well-played game versus the Cal Bears yesterday. Matt Barnes dazzled, Nick made a couple of great defensive plays, we connected just barely enough (we only had eight base runners all game), Dan Feehan got us out of a jam, and San Diego-area native Kevin Vance closed out the 3-1 win over the 14th ranked Bears on a sun-kissed afternoon.

This morning, we have a misty rain that is nothing compared to what we'll see at home in April. We're hoping Cunningham Stadium is dry enough to play a young and talented University of San Diego team later this afternoon. They will have their number one pitcher going against us, and we will have another test against a quality opponent.

We will have several of those on our trip here. The game of baseball really is meant to be played every day, and we are looking forward to great weather and the chance to improve with our five remaining games here over the next six days in Southern California before returning on a red-eye next Saturday/Sunday. We will have a connecting flight in Dulles before we make it home. It's just one more connection we're hoping to make.