Florence Freedom vs. Schaumburg Boomers (Frontier League)
UC Health Stadium-Florence, KY: I sat at my desk at work last Friday night, keeping an eye on the score on the computer, hoping the Florence Freedom would pull it off. Already down two games to none, another loss would mean the series would be over, and the Schaumburg Boomers would be champs of the Frontier League. Worse for me, it would mean no baseball game to attend the next day. Lucky for me, and the Freedom, I guess, Florence prevailed in 12 innings to keep the series going. So Saturday night, Brian and I made the trip up to see what could be a championship for the Boomers, or another game for the Freedom. I was a little shocked to see the game tickets at $20 a piece, even for a championship series. You’d think the home team would really want the local fan base to fill the park (not a huge crowd for such a big game…). At least Brian was able to get a photo op with Y’All Star as soon as we entered the stadium.
We sat down the third base side by the Schaumburg dugout, and the Boomers soon became one of Brian’s favorite teams, as I still rooted for the Freedom. The Boomers took the lead in the second inning, however, on a solo home run. Taylor Oldham tied the game for Florence with an RBI double in the third. In the fourth inning, Rock Shoulders hit a monster home run to put the Boomers up 2-1, quickly followed by another Schaumburg dinger. An RBI double put the Boomers up 4-1. Rock Shoulders is an awesome name. Like this guy wasn’t destined to be a professional athlete…
About this time we needed a treat, so Brian landed on the Funnel Cake Deluxe. This was served in a helmet, and consisted of a funnel cake, a crap load of ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles and Oreo pieces. It was amazing, and both of us together couldn’t even finish it!
The sixth inning added more runs for Schaumburg. They hit another home run, and a sacrifice fly scored another to take a commanding 6-1 lead in the game. Florence came back with a two-out run in the bottom of the inning, to cut the lead to 6-2. Andrew Godbold paced the offence for the Freedom, going 2-3 with a run scored.
Between innings, Brian was supposed to participate in an on-field race, but back out once he learned he would be wearing over-sized underwear… Oh well, at least he did run across the field during the seventh inning stretch.
On the mound for Florence, Cody Gray got the start and took the loss. He tossed four innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, while striking out six. He would be replaced by Tony Vocca, who gave up two runs on two hits in 1.1 innings of work. Kit Fowler started for the Boomers, pitching three innings and giving up a run. Michael Wood would earn the win, tossing 4.2 inning, giving up one run and striking out four. FINAL: Freedom 2, Boomers 6.
After the final out, it was time for celebration for the Boomers. I don’t care what age you are or what level of ball you play, when you win a championship it is a big deal. Congratulations to Schaumburg, they definitely deserve it. And congratulations to the Florence Freedom on a great season also. We’ll be back at UC Health Stadium next season.
Video and photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Florence Freedom vs. Traverse City Beach Bums (Frontier League)
UC Health Stadium-Florence, KY: Second double-header in as many days due to a rain-out the night before. Again, because I’m so far behind, I’ll be combining both games into one post. We settled in to see the Freedom take on one of my old teams from Michigan, the Beach Bums. My dad was pulling for TC all the way, but I was torn a bit (or more accurately, didn’t really care much as long as I was watching a good game). The stadium in Florence is nice, and usually has a pretty baseball savvy crowd, with Cincy just across the river. It was another game without much of a crowd, however, mainly due to the possibility of rain.
The first game was a close one, and one my dad was happy with the outcome of. Leading Florence offensively was Daniel Fraga, who went 2/4 with two runs scored. Jose Brizuela drove in four of the Freedom’s five runs, and also went 2/4. On the mound, Tony Vocca took the loss, pitching 5.1 innings of the shortened game. He gave up all six runs on ten hits, while striking out five. FINAL (7) game 1: Freedom 5, Beach Bums 6.
In the second game, the home team was able to even the score. On the bump for the Freedom Cody Gray pitched all seven innings, only allowing three hits and striking out seven. He was helped on the offensive side by Andre Mercurio, who went 3/3 with an RBI. Jordan Brower pitched in going 1/2, also. FINAL (7) game 2: Freedom 4, Beach Bums 1.
It was a fun night of baseball, and really the seven inning games move along pretty quickly. We enjoyed the ballpark and I still would like to get the kids up here for a family Sunday game. The next posts will be starting the games at the ACC Tournament, and I’ll also use some space to plug my social media, as you can follow on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @minorbaseball. You can see real time photos instead of having to wait for me to finally get all of these posts up!
Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
It’s that time of year, again, to look back at all the fun things in terms of baseball that we accomplished. For the second year in a row, we missed out on a baseball trip, so the list won’t be all that diverse when it comes to location. That’s not a terrible thing, however, as we moved to Kentucky this year and reaped the benefits of living in an area with plenty of college, independent, minor league, and major league baseball nearby. If the list was to 10, it would have included my birthday, where I was able to spend a fun day with my boys at the Louisville Slugger Museum and a Bats game, but we did other fun stuff that made the cut. So, without further ‘ado’ let’s get to it…
9) Star Wars Night: Star Wars will always be a hit, and this year we went to the event at our new home field in Louisville. The Bats host a decent night of space adventure fun, and the game itself was a walk-off win. Even Boba Fett was there, who we missed last year, so it capped off a great night.
8) Our first Reds game: Our first Cincinnati Reds game was a great experience. We took a boat from Newport across the river to avoid traffic and parking, and that avoided a lot of my stress of visiting a Major League game. We got great seats off of Seat Geek, so we were able to get a great view of the game, and Brian got a game ball from Eugenio Suarez. It was a hot day, but worth it to take in the Great American Ballpark in all it’s glory. It’s an amazing place to watch a game, and although the Reds had a rough season, the games are always fun!
7) Whitecaps Opening Day: Opening Days are always fun, even if there is snow on the ground, and the temps are more suited for hockey. We wanted to get a Whitecaps game in before the move, and give my dad a fun birthday present at the same time. Despite the cold, we had a great time together, and every trip we make back to Michigan during the season, we will always try to work in a Whitecaps game. In a strange way, the weather was a fitting ‘goodbye’ for us.
6) Our first Cards game: Sometimes you go someplace that just feels like ‘home’. That’s exactly what happened to us when we entered Jim Patterson Stadium for the first time in early March. Before Minor League opening day, and while down doing some house hunting, we couldn’t resist taking in a ball game. This is a great venue, and the Louisville Cardinals have a good baseball program, so this was a fun game for sure. It’s hard to believe the games are free with the ACC being such a competitive conference, so no surprise they pull in some good crowds. With my love for college baseball growing with every game, Cardinal baseball will be a staple in our lives for years to come.
5) Y’All Star Game: We lucked out, as the Frontier League All Star, or Y’All Star, Game was held in Florence, KY this season. We’re pretty familiar with the independent Frontier League, spending some time at some of the Beach Bums games in Traverse City. We were able to cheer on some of our Bums, as well as players from the home town Florence Freedom. The game hosted mascots from the Reds and other Frontier League teams, as well as Jake the Diamond Dog, and Myron Noodelman who was absolutely hilarious. In all, just an enjoyable night of baseball, and we’ll definitely make it back to Florence for a Freedom game next summer.
4) Loons Uniform and Logo Unveiling: It’s not too often you are able to enjoy a baseball event in February, but that’s just what we did when the Great Lakes Loons hosted an event to showcase the teams new logo and uniforms. Along with seeing the new logos, the mascots Lou E. Loon and Ral E. Camel entertained us. Brian was able to get his face painted and took the mic to try his hand at announcing. We ended the day by taking some cuts in the batting cages under Dow Diamond. Not a bad way to spend a winter day. I also wanted to add, that the Loons took their new look all the way to the 2016 Midwest League Championship!
3) Rose Number Retirement: Everyone has an opinion on Pete Rose, and whether you love him, or hate him, he is without a doubt one of the best hitters in the history of this great game! I met my best friend in Newport, and we had a great time at the ballgame, and seeing Reds legends like Rose and Johnny Bench in the pre-game ceremony. Like him or not, I did get to witness some history. 14 forever!
2) The San Diego Chicken!: Just like the afore mentioned Bench, I grew up watching the San Diego Chicken on the TV show The Baseball Bunch. He is far and above other mascots, and the skits he puts on are flawless and amazing. The Chicken has a magical presence that keep both children and adults tuned in to his every move. He was nice enough to meet with all his fans, also, and definitely made another one in Brian. This was an amazing night at the Bats game with the Chicken.
1) Mariners win the Championship!: Brian has really prospered from the move, but nothing more than what he’s been able to accomplish on the ballfield. He was lucky enough to join the Mariners a handful of games into the season when we moved down. The league down here is very different, and a lot more competitive. Brian fit right in, however, and had a great season at the plate. He was blessed with good coaches who pushed him hard but also let the kids have some fun. Being part of this team was a great experience and I’m glad he was able to be a part of it. The championship game was probably harder on me, but the kids were able to hang on for the win.
Looking ahead to 2017: I’m really looking forward to next season, and the adventures that baseball will take us on. We’ll have a full season with the Cardinals and Bats to look forward to, and the ACC Baseball championship here at Slugger Field, also. Brian will be playing ball again so we’ll keep tracking his success as he moves up a level next season. I’m looking forward to visiting new ballparks, especially some others here in Kentucky such as Lexington and Bowling Green. I wouldn’t mind hitting the road, either, for trips to Evanston, IN or Nashville, TN that aren’t all that far away, either. Until then, I wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas!
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
East vs. West (Frontier League)
UC Health Stadium-Florence, KY: This week was the annual All-Star Game for the Frontier League, nicely dubbed Y’All-Star Game this season due to it being held down here in Kentucky. This was our first game in Florence, and in my opinion, they have a nice little stadium.
When we entered, we were met with a barrage of mascots! We got to meet Big L from the Lexington Legends (South Atlantic League), Wild Thing from Washington (Frontier League), and, of course the lovely Rosie Red from Cincinnati!
We had great seats in the front row, and I’m glad we didn’t sit behind the dugouts. It’s my pet-peeve, and really the only negative about this ballpark is that the netting wraps all around the ends of each dugout, which doesn’t give a great view of the game.
It started out as a pretty hot day, but as the game started we got a little cloud cover and a breeze that made it a perfect night for baseball. I tried to get some better photos while we still had sun-light, though.
And this is Y’All Star, the Florence Freedom mascot for this season. I think their mascot is usually an eagle, but he wasn’t present at this game. Maybe they’ll bring him back next season. Y’All Star is based on the famous water tower by the Florence Mall:
In the game that was going on, the East was actually winning 3-1 for most of the game, until the West hit their stride in the seventh inning. Here’s a quick video I did before the wheels fell off for the East.
But before I get to that, lets insert a selfie of Trevor and I. Like I said, we had really good seats:
The West added on a couple of more runs, and the East just couldn’t get back into it. Sorry I don’t have more names and stats for the game listed, but if you’re interested you can read the full review from the Frontier League’s website HERE. Below, the West celebrates their Y’All Star Game victory! FINAL: West 11, East 4.
This was simply a fun night, and I really enjoyed the show the Frontier League put on. They really didn’t have anything exciting going on before the game, but they did make it into a three-day event. I could only get this night off work, so we missed out on the softball game vs. the Chicago Bandits and the home run derby the nights before. We’re definitely planning another trip to Florence for a game. I’ll leave you with a video of part of the fireworks show that I shot on our way to the car:
Videos and photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Wuerfel Park–Traverse City, MI: I admit I’m a little behind on my posts. The last entry I wrote a few weeks ago, but was just able to get the pics uploaded due to computer problems and us moving into a new house! Anyway, this game was also a few weeks ago, but still fresh in my mind as it was a good one. And the ‘free baseball’ headline has to do with the tickets coming with Trevor’s baseball academy, and also the fact that this was another game for us that went into extra innings (our game in Battle Creek was extras, too). So, we’re back at Wuerfel Park, the site of the baseball academy, here to watch the big boys play. Another game where Brian spent half of it at the playground, but still had time to visit with his Papa, and meet the TC mascots Suntan and Sunburn. Trevor hung out in the outfield, but wasn’t able to wrestle a foul ball this time. Lily did what Lily does, and socialized some but spent some time with her Papa also. We had great weather, and another fun time watching the Beach Bums, this time taking on the Florence Freedom in Frontier League action. And an action packed game it was…
The Bums were down 3-0 going into the seventh inning, you see, and that’s when things started going their way. Sean Gusrang reached safe at first due to a throwing error, to start a rally. Gusrang scored on a Marcus Nidiffer double, and later scored on a sac-fly by Ryan Still, to cut the score to 3-2. The eighth inning started out with a Taylor Wrenn double for the Beach Bums. He was moved to third by Jose Vargas, and scored on a Carlo Testa single, to tie the game at 3-3. Both team threatened, but couldn’t get any runs across until the 10th inning. That’s when Wrenn got hit by a pitch, then moved to second when Chase Burch walked. That opened the door for Zach Kometani, who became the hero of the game with his walk-off single, scoring Wrenn. On the mound, Nick Capito earned with win with three scoreless innings. I hope our games next weekend will be as exiting as these! Final: Beach Bums 4, Freedom 3 (10 innings).