Louisville Slugger Field-Louisville, KY: Last weekend the Bats hosted a youth camp sponsored by the local Chevy dealerships. Members of the Division III Spalding University baseball team were also on hand to help teach the kids. After warm-ups, Brian’s group went to play a game of wiffle ball with some Golden Eagles to start things off.
After the wiffle ball game, his next station was in the outfield catching fly balls. The players were hitting the baseballs much higher than the kids were used to seeing, but most did a good job of catching them, anyway.
After working on the pop-fly’s, the groups worked on fielding the ball off of the wall. This is something the kids haven’t dealt with much at their age. They had some good drills, and made a game of it. After that, their next station was catching. One of the Bats coaches was running this one, and you could tell he was an old-school baseball guy. He didn’t put up with much from any of the kids (and Brian did have a few smart-asses in his group), and expected them to hustle and work hard. Nothing wrong with that. I didn’t get any good pics of the last two stations, so we’ll move onto base-running. The boys worked on running through the base, and making that hard turn toward second.
I wasn’t able to follow him down to the indoor batting cages, but he said he hit the ball pretty well. No surprise, as that’s probably the strongest aspect of his game. I did snap a shot of him in the dugout, though!
Then it was time to gather at the short-stop position for some ground balls. Brian has gotten a lot better at fielding over the last couple of seasons. I was having fun just seeing him out there on the field. They had a little problem with some bullying in their group, but the Bats official put a stop to that asap. Sometimes you get some kids from the same team in these groups, and think they can push kids around and run the show.
The last station was pitching. Brian will be entering the kid-pitch division for the first time this fall, so this was good instruction he was getting. He needs some help with his throwing mechanics, any, so this station was good for him.
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Walsh Park-LaGrange, KY: That’s all she wrote for this season of Little League baseball. Not much changed from my last entry, as it continued to be a frustrating season for Brian and his team. The Diamondbacks ended the season 5-14, good for eight in the 10 team league. The D-backs also bowed out in the first game of the playoffs, so a very different end to the season as Brian was hoisting a championship trophy at the end of June last year.
The old saying is, that you can always learn more by losing, and if that’s the case then that is definitely the silver lining for this season. Life parallels baseball so much, and there are so many lessons to be learned. Sometimes you work hard and get a hit or make a solid play. Sometimes you miss one, and you have to put it behind you and work a little harder on the next one. Life, as in baseball isn’t always fair. You don’t always get what you earn, and sometimes you even get called out on a strike below the knees.
That being said, he still had a very good season, and I’m very proud of the way he played. He still hit over .500, which is impressive even off of a hitting machine. He improved on his catching and fielding, but we still need to work on throwing mechanics. Brian showed a better overall understanding of the game, where the play was heading and where to throw the ball if it came to him. At times during the season, Brian also showed signs of being a good leader on the team, cheering on his teammates and keeping a positive attitude, and I’m very proud of him for that. I really think he enjoys the game, too, as every day he asks if we can play catch or play one of our ‘Brianball’ games out in the yard. Fall ball starts up here the end of August and he’s looking forward to that, but I think he’s happy this small chapter of his baseball career has come to an end.
Walsh Park-LaGrange, KY: Well, we’re almost a month into the season, and the North Oldham Little League season for the Diamondbacks isn’t going as planned. After starting out 2-0, the D-backs rattled off seven straight losses before breaking the slump on Saturday afternoon. Then they lost on a walk off in extra innings the next night. Brian went through a little slump of his own, although not very long. Being buried at the bottom of the lineup, he had a couple of game where he was 0-1 (yes, three out of four games during the stretch he only had one at bat). But we tweaked some things, and he’s back to being one of the best hitters on the team. From my calculation, he’s now hitting .647 this season. With all honesty, though, I think I missed a game in there somewhere, with all of the cancellations and re-scheduled games. Speaking of which…
If you’re wondering why we haven’t been to any more college or minor league games, the simple answer is that little league has become all-consuming. It’s not really the game schedule, but the re-scheduling that’s been hindering our plans to see other games. Even when we get a nice day on the weekend, more than likely the boys will be playing a make-up game due to all the rain we’ve had the last four weeks. Don’t get me wrong, though, there’s no place I’d rather be than watching Brian play, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to chill and watch a Bats game, or something. We do have tickets for this Sunday, but…. 90% chance of rain…
Back to Brian’s season. He’s been stuck in the outfield most of the time, which he doesn’t like, but has made the best of it when he gets his chances in the infield. He’s played some pitcher, second base, and his favorite: first base. He did well, and caught everything that was thrown to him, but only got to play there one inning so far this season. He’s keeping his chin up, though, and I’m teaching him to only worry about the things he can control, and do his best wherever the coach puts him. He had the chance to catch a couple of innings, though, but didn’t end up liking it. The mask didn’t fit well, and he took a couple of pitches in the foot. Maybe I can talk him into being catcher again later on in fall ball. He still has half a season left, and as long as he keeps doing his best and having fun, we’ll call it a win!
Walsh Park-LaGrange, KY: How nice is this, that Brian is playing outside in nice weather? In April! Brian’s back in Rookie ball this season, this time suiting up for the Diamondbacks, and ready to pursue another championship. The North Oldham Little League does a great job promoting itself, and has a pancake breakfast and parade to kick off the season. Unfortunately, do to work, we were unable to make this early morning festivities, but he’s made the two out of the three games so far (Tuesday night we had tickets to WWE Smackdown Live that we bought well in advance).
The first game of the season the D-backs won 13-4. Brian went 2-3 with an RBI at the dish. In the field, he made some nice plays and had some good catches to pitch in defensively. In the second game, the D-backs held on to win 6-5. Brian scored the game-winning RBI in the fifth inning on his second hit of the night. He was 2-2 with two ribeye steaks. He didn’t get anything hit to him in the field, so he was actually mad after the game. A little ice cream cheered him up, though. I’ll probably kick out a mid-season report in a few weeks!
Bowling Green Hot Rods vs. Fort Wayne TinCaps (Midwest League)
Bowling Green Ballpark-Bowling Green, KY: This was our first game here in Bowling Green, and I can honestly say it was a fun experience. Bowling Green Ballpark is nice place to watch a game, and is snuggled right into the down town area. The only negative thing I can say about the ballpark, is that there is just so much netting, it was difficult to get good photos of the action.
We had good seats, though, although I had to move around a bit to find a place to take a pic or two without the netting in the way. Brian was having a fun time, also, and we really liked meeting the Hot Rod mascots Axel and Roscoe. I was impressed with the mascots, they were very active through out the game and did a great job of entertaining and interacting with the fans.
Now, as much fun as meeting a bear and monkey that are apparently auto mechanics, the highlight of this trip was that Brian was chosen to help out with the announcing. He was randomly picked by the Hot Rods staff, and during the fourth inning was able to announce the Bowling Green batters. He was good luck, also, as the Hot Rods plated some runs during the inning. Brian was a little nervous at first, but the staff in the press box was very friendly and supportive, and he ended up doing a fine job!
And why not another video, as they’re short:
That was so much fun for him, but we almost forgot there was a pretty good ballgame going on, also. On the bump for Bowling Green, starting pitcher Brock Burke went three innings, giving up one hit, giving up one earned run, and striking out five. Roel Ramirez actual got the win, despite giving up four hits and two runs. Spencer Jones earned the save, pitching two innings while giving up one hit and had three strike outs. Bowling Green was lead offensively by Nathaniel Lowe, who went 2-4 with two RBI’s, and Jesus Sanchez, who went 2-3 with two RBI’s and two runs scored. Final: Hot Rods 6, TinCaps 4.
This was a fun night of baseball, and definitely makes us want to take another trip down to Bowling Green. There is also almost a limitless amount of things to see and do between Louisville and Bowling Green, also. So many National Parks and museums, it would take many trips to see and experience everything. Below is a photo of Brian at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. Just one of the fun activities we did that’s not baseball related.
Louisville Cardinals vs. Boston College Eagles (NCAA/ACC)
Jim Patterson Stadium-Louisville, KY: We were finally able to make it to another Louisville game, and what a historic game it was! Brian was nice enough to let me watch some of the game from the stands, before heading to the outfield so he could play on the park. I can’t complain too much, though as the best food is grilled in the outfield bleachers. The #1 ranked cards were riding a 17 game winning streak after beating Boston College in the first game of the series 6-0 Friday night. On Saturday, Louisville would put up another six, but the Eagles didn’t go away as quietly.
On the mound, Kade McClure pitched well with nine strikeouts and only giving up one earned run. Louisville native Riley Thompson came in for relief, and got rocked a bit, giving up 3 earned runs and making things interesting the later innings. Adam Wolf and Lincoln Henzman would shut things down for the Cards, though. McClure still picked up the win, also.
Offensively, the Cardinals were lead by second baseman Devin Mann, who went 2-4 with 2 RBI’s. Also contributing was Drew Ellis, 2-5 with one RBI, and Logan Taylor 1-2 with one RBI. Their 18th win in a row is a new school record for wins in a row to start the season. Final: Cardinals 6, Eagles 4.
This was a fun game to be at, and the weather wasn’t all that bad, either. Louisville would also earn a 5-3 on Sunday, getting the sweep and extending the winning streak to 19 games. The Cardinals will be hitting the road for the next couple of weekends, but we’ll be back here the first week in April.
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: It seems as it just started, but Brian’s fall ball league has come to an end. I’m really happy that he chose to keep playing, and I think he had a good time. Honestly, I really didn’t pay too much attention to his team’s record, although I’m pretty sure they won more than they lost, and there are no playoffs. He got a chance to play some other positions, also, finding he likes to play some infield. He still needs to work on his throwing mechanics a little, but he’s fielding pretty good. Brian had a solid fall season at the dish, also. He hit well over .500, going 3-3 in two consecutive games. After that second one, he was given the game ball by his coach as player of the game. He had some good coaching this fall, as well, as they stayed very positive and stressed fun and learning above all else. He’s excited to play next year, and spring can’t come soon enough.
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: Wow, I really love it down here! It’s amazing that my son can play a fall sport without it being soccer or football! The North Oldham Little League fall ball program is a good one, and Brian is having fun so far. Not quite as many kids play though, so instead of team names, they just have colors, but the coaches have dubbed their team the Blue Sharks. The fall league is more of an instructional league, with the kids being able to experience different positions every inning. We’re blessed again with good coaching, and they try to go above and beyond to help the kids out with the fundamentals of the game.
The team is 1-1 so far this season, and Brian is playing well, hitting .500 and doing well in the field. He’s been able to play a few different positions in Fall Ball, also, so it’s a little more fun and the kids won’t get bored playing in the same place all of the time. The season is just getting started, and they play through the first of October. Hopefully it might cool off just a little bit down here by then. The first couple of games the temps were still in the 90 range!
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: I honestly don’t know where to start! First off, I guess we can congratulate the Mariners on winning the North Oldham Little League Rookie Division championship! It was not an easy road, and there were many good teams in this league. The Mariners finished third in their division and received a first round bye. They faced the Indians in the quarter-finals, and won by the score of 4-2, with Brian getting the game-winning RBI. In the semi-finals, they went against the Royals, a team they haven’t beat all year. The Mariners won a tough battle, however, winning 6-4 on a hot 90 degree day at noon, to head to the championship. The Mariners were down 5-0 in the first, then battled back for the win. Their opponent in the final game was the Padres, the team that won the division in the regular season. This time it was the Mariners who jumped out to a lead, 3-0 in the first, then added a pair in the middle innings. The Padres stormed back in the fifth, scoring four runs, but the M’s held them off in the sixth for a 5-4 championship victory! Here are a couple of shots of Brian in the final:
The championship aside, though, I still believe this team was the best fit for Brian. The coaches never preached winning, but focused on having the kids be positive, work hard, and have fun playing the game of baseball. From there, the winning just sort of took care of itself. I really think Brian learned more about being part of a team and earning something you’ve worked hard for, as much as he did about the game of baseball. Their coach told the boys to enjoy this, as it may be the only championship they ever win, and he could be right about that. My last year in Little League was the one and only time I’ve seen glory in all my years of playing. I’m glad he’s tasted victory, but if he keeps on playing and loving this game, it’s sure to break his heart at some point. But that’s something I’ll start preparing for next year. This big win sparked him to want to play Fall Ball and to keep working hard at the sport, so that gives us something to look forward to in a couple of months.
Video and photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: Brian has had no problem fitting into our new environment here in Kentucky. In fact, he suited up for the Mariners and played his first game within the first few days. I was honestly hesitant on whether to sign him up or not, knowing he wouldn’t have any practices, and playing in a more competitive league than he’s used to. Brian put all my concerns to rest after his first game, however. He went 1-2 at the plate, and played well. More than anything, his smile after the game, and the simple statement “I had fun” was all I needed to hear. Yeah, he may be a step behind some of the other players, but at the same time he is contributing to his team, and is a step ahead of others.
I also have to say that I’m very impressed with the North Oldham Little League organization, and the coaches involved. The kids play in a beautiful facility at Walsh Park as well. The coaches don’t baby the kids, but treat them like young men, and at the same time stressing for them to relax and have fun. I honestly think that he’s made more friends on the field than he has at his new school, also. Overall, this has been a great move for us, especially from a baseball perspective. They’ve had a couple of rainouts, but look to be making some games up this weekend and early in the week. I’ll post more updates as his season progresses.