North Carolina TarHeels vs. Miami Hurricanes (NCAA)
Louisville Slugger Field-Louisville, KY: I’m not going to lie. We never saw one inning of this game. Not one pitch, not one at-bat…nothing. For some reason the ACC decided to keep postponing the game, even though the weather was fine at the time. The photo above is the TarHeels just hanging out, waiting to play ball. However that wouldn’t happen for a couple of more hours. Yes, there was a chance of rain, and yes, it did end up raining, but not until after the postponed start. The ACC could have given the go-ahead, and when it DID rain, at least the teams would have gotten a large chunk of the game in. Also, as we did, a large chunk of the paid attendance wouldn’t have been cheated out of a game, either, as fans headed for the gates when the announcement came that the game wouldn’t start for awhile, yet. FINAL: TarHeels 12, Hurricanes 4.
I’m not going to lie. I really would have liked to have seen this game, but since it didn’t get over until almost midnight, that would have made for a very long and strenuous day, especially with my dad and Brian at the ballpark impatiently waiting for baseball that we paid for. At least Brian got to meet some of the North Carolina players, but we didn’t have a chance to catch up with any Hurricanes.
Before the announcement of the delay, we took the time to check out the ACC Fan Fest in the West Wing of Slugger Field. I really wish the ACC would have shown that this is an important event, and maybe had some more things going on, and maybe some of the school mascots on hand instead of just cardboard cutouts of them. Brian at least got to see the ACC Championship trophy, too.
We spent most of the time at the Louisville Slugger display, where Brian was able to hold some bats of Major Leaguers, including Louisville’s own Adam Duvall. Again, we were all very disappointed that we weren’t able to see any of this game, but just couldn’t stay there and wait around any longer. I honestly wasn’t that impressed with the way the ACC handled this tournament as a whole, from the pool play down to it’s weather delays. But, then again, having NC play until midnight and have to be ready to play the next day at noon, gave a HUGE advantage to the waiting Seminoles… Hhhhmm….
North Carolina TarHeels vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack (NCAA)
Louisville Slugger Field-Louisville, KY: The nightcap pitted in-state rivals North Carolina and NC State. As this was our third game of the day, we were a little tired, but ready for another good game of baseball. I felt a little bad for the Wolfpack, however, as a dropped pop-fly in foul territory during the first inning cost them eight runs, and really put them behind the 8-ball so to speak.
To their credit, the TarHeels did come out swing their bats, crossing the plate ten times in the first inning. Carolina was lead by Tyler Lynn, who went 3/4 with two RBI’s and two runs scored. Logan Warmoth, Ashton McGee, and Brandon Riley each added two hits, and Riley plated three RBI’s. First inning aside, NC State played respectable baseball the rest of the game. Josh McLain went 1/3 and had two RBI’s for the Wolfpack.
On the hill, Brian Brown gave up eight runs, but only two of those were earned, while giving up seven hits for NC State. Sean Adler and Joe O’Donnell finally kept the TarHeels scoreless the last four innings. For North Carolina, J.B. Bukauskus had a good lead to work with, and threw seven innings. He allowed three runs on four hits, while striking out five. A long day for us, but worth it to watch some great baseball. On to the semifinals the next couple of posts. FINAL: TarHeels 12, Wolfpack 4.
CMC-Northeast Stadium-Kannapolis, NC: Wow…what to do on a day when we only have one game scheduled to attend? Well, if you’re into the nascar thing, then you would have enjoyed our experiences. Our first stop was in Concord, NC, home of the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Despite the advertising of daily tours around the track, we found they were cancelled because some trucks were practicing all weekend. Great luck, so we poked around a bit and headed out. Just down the street there was a nice little car museum, so we decided to check that out. The highlight for me was seeing a couple of cars used in the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (if you’re not first, you’re last…). We still had plenty of time before our game in Kannapolis, so, sticking with the nascar theme, we decided to head back into downtown Charlotte to the nascar Hall of Fame. Our experience there was ok, but decided just to head back north to Kannapolis. We arrived a little early, but noticed that the gates were open. The ballpark wasn’t really open to the public then, but I started chatting with head of ticket sales, and he was nice enough to open the gift shop for me so we could get our souvenirs and put them back in the car before the game. The whole Intimidators staff was very friendly, and treated us well. We actually had time to take and little snooze in the car before the gates officially opened. Before heading inside, though, I took a few pics of the race car parked in front of the stadium…sticking with the nascar theme, of course. Kannapolis is the birthplace of deceased nascar driver Dale Earnhardt, and the Intimidators are named after him. Inside, we had plenty of time to explore the small ballpark before the game began. This included hanging out with mascot Tim E. Gator. The concourse was nice, and wide open. There were some good eats, too, but we just stuck with beer and hot dogs. I bought seats in the V.I.P. section, right next to the Intimidators dugout. On a two dimensional seating chart, the seats looked great, but in reality, I had a huge pole directly in front of me, and couldn’t see anything. With a small crowd, we quickly found new seats. CMC-Northeast Stadium is a nice, unique, ballpark, and was a good low-key end to our adventures in North Carolina, as I really love the South Atlantic League.
The in-game action started out well for the home town nine. They scored three runs in the first inning, and one run in the fourth to take a 4-1 run lead. Things would fall apart in the late innings, though, as they gave up four and five runs in consecutive innings to go down 10-4. They battled back in the eighth, scoring three runs to cut the Suns’ lead to three, but couldn’t come up with the equalizer. The Intimidators got great production our of right fielder Jason Coats, who went 3-5 with four RBI’s and two runs scored. Brandon Brennan took the loss on the hill for Kannapolis, going 6.1 innings and giving up four earned runs. Relief pitcher Todd Kibby really got roughed up, though, not even lasting one innings and giving up four runs on three walks and one hit. Final score: Intimidators 7, Suns 10.
Location: Fort Mill, South Carolina
Home Field: Knights Stadium
League: International League
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox
Summary: This is actually a very cool logo, in my opinion. And during this coming seasons’ baseball trip, our second game on the schedule will be at Knights Stadium when the Knight take on the Pawtucket Red Sox. This will be my first time seeing both teams. We were in Pawtucket a couple of years ago, but the game was rained out. The team represents Charlotte, North Carolina, but the ballpark is located in one of its suburbs, Fort Mill, SC. From what I’ve read, the ballpark isn’t anything special, but a new one is being built as we speak in downtown Charlotte. There has been some opposition to this, and I’m not sure why, but the new stadium looks like it will be amazing. Too bad we’ll miss that one, but I’m sure we’ll have a great time seeing them this year, too. Baseball in Charlotte dates back to 1901, and the Charlotte Hornets (sound familiar?). The modern version of the team dates back to 1976, when famous wrestling promoter Jim Crocket, Jr. bought the team that was in Asheville, and brought them to town to become the Charlotte Orioles. They were then bought by the owner of the NBA Charlotte Hornets, and named the Knights. They have been in the original South Atlantic League, which became the Southern League, and then landed a Triple-A franchise in the International League. During their affiliation with Baltimore, the likes of Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Curt Schilling played in Charlotte. During their stint with Cleveland, fans were able to watch young versions of Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. The mascot is a Dragon named Homer, and I’ll do my best to get a photo with that guy. Charlotte looks like a great city, and I am really looking forward to our visit. There is so much else to see and do, also, including the Charlotte Motor Speedway and President Polk Memorial. P.S.: I know this is the second LoM this month, but if I’m going to get through all the teams before my trip, I’ll have to double some of them up!