Tennessee Volunteers vs. Belmont Bruins (NCAA)
Lindsey Nelson Stadium-Knoxville, TN: The first game of our trip this year (not a pure baseball trip, but vacation non-the-less), was a college game in Knoxville. Knoxville is a beautiful town, and the Tennessee campus is great. The only real beef I have with this ballpark is that they didn’t let be bring a bag inside. For many of us that attend games, we know we must have all of our ‘stuff’, including baseball gloves, sun block, camera, rain ponchos, etc. Working for DHS, I understand safety protocal, but not allowing fans to bring their ‘stuff’ in is simply laziness of the security staff, and not wanting to do their jobs.
As for the game, the Volunteers were hosting another Tennessee team, the Belmont Bruins. This was a solid game for the home team, as they put up some runs. Leading the way for the Volunteers were Justin Ammons, who went 2-3 with two runs scored, and Jay Charleston, who went 1-2 with a run scored and three RBI’s. On the mound, Will Heflin earned the win. He pitched three innings allowing one run, and striking out one. FINAL: Volunteers 6, Bruins 2.
University of Kentucky/Nutter Field House-Lexington, KY: What a weekend this was, the first annual Father/Son Baseball Camp hosted by the Kentucky Wildcats baseball program. After a small nap Saturday morning, Brian and I made the trek to Lexington. Upon arriving on campus and heading into the Nutter Field House, we were greeted by Wilcats’ head coach Nick Mingione. He introduced himself, and let us know where to go to get checked in. After getting all checked in and playing some catch, coach gave us all a quick run down on the weekend activities before we separated into our groups and got to work.
We started out with some fielding, which went well, then onto throwing. Brian has always had a bit of trouble with some throwing mechanics, but some of these drills really seemed to help him out. It’s fun to see the smile on his face when he does well. Same thing with the hitting drills, as Coach Fanning gave him some pointers and he was hitting off the tee really well. It was nice to get the camp off to a good start.
After the first set of drills were completed, we broke for some pizza and rest. Pizza is always a hit with the kids. When our bellies were full, the fathers and sons were separated into groups. The coaches talked to us about the family atmosphere of the Kentucky baseball program, as well as the joys and struggles of raising baseball players. The kids were taken by the players and they wrote us ‘thank you’ letters that I look forward to receiving in the mail. After a few more drills, we walked over to check out the Wildcats clubhouse. As you can imagine it was a very nice facility.
When the tour was completed, we spread out our sleeping bags on the turf and tried to get some sleep. Tried being the key word. I was really tired and drifted off, but since Brian couldn’t sleep at first, he wasn’t about to let me get any shut-eye, either. We did finally get a little sleep, and woke up to a breakfast of sausage biscuits and donuts, which wasn’t all that bad. The team provided us with a church service right there in the field house, also, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that just about all of the families attended.
Our group started the morning with a Fathers vs. Sons ballgame. This was a lot of fun, and it felt good to hit and play the field like I was a kid again, also. Brian hit the ball well and made some good plays, so he was happy. No one was keeping score, but I’m sure the Fathers plated a few more runs, at least that’s the story I’m sticking to… After some wall-ball and base running, we ended the day at the batting cages. Brian hit the ball well, and it was good to end the camp on a positive note.
I’m very grateful to the University of Kentucky, and feel blessed that I could experience this weekend with Brian. He did have fun, and I hope he looks back on this experience one day as a positive one. Camps like this just reinforce that our move to Kentucky was a good one. Also looking forward to seeing at game here this spring, as Coach Mingione seems to have something really special going on with this program.
Promotion courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
John Cropp Stadium-Lexington, KY: Our original plan for after our adventure at the Stache-A-Palooza, was to check out some Kentucky Wildcat baseball. The team was scheduled to play Miami (Ohio) at 1:00 at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Uh, however, when we arrived at the Cliff, we found it empty, with no baseball teams in sight. Apparently, the game had been rescheduled, but we never saw any notification of this. Still not sure WHY the game was changed, the weather wasn’t as bad as the day before, but maybe because the UK basketball team was playing at the same time? Personally, I think it’s stupid to re-arrange baseball for stupid basketball, but again, that’s just me. Not letting this ruin our day, though, we drove over to the UK softball venue, John Cropp Stadium, to find the ladies hosting a tournament there, aptly named the John Cropp Classic. The Michigan Wolverines were playing the Evansville Aces when we arrived, and it was cool to see a somewhat (old) home team on the field. We enjoyed the game, as the Wolverines made short work of the Aces. Final: Michigan 11, Evansville 2.
The next game in the tourney featured the home team Wildcats taking on the Kent State Golden Flashes. Between games, Brian and some of the other kids took time to make signs supporting their Kentucky team. Brian’s sign was a hit, as many of the girls acknowledged him, and one player even took a picture of him with it. To be honest, we only stayed a few innings as the cold was getting to us, but the home team ended up with the victory anyway. Not sure when we’ll make the trip to Lexington again, but will probably plan it around a Legends and Wildcats baseball game, and if the ladies are in town, we’ll hit another game here, too. Final: Kentucky 2, Kent State 0.
Nutter Field House-Lexington, KY: Brian simply woke up one day and declared: ‘I’m a UK fan, dad.’ Uh, ok, that’s fine, I guess. When I asked him ‘why’, he simply replied: ‘I just am.’ Again, ok. Kids are funny like that. I might not ever really know what event turned his loyalties to the Big Blue Nation, but at least it gave us an excuse to travel to Lexington for the Wildcats inaugural Fan Day hosted by the university’s baseball and softball teams.
They day started with a short clinic for the kids, then the teams split up for an autograph session. The players were separated by position (INF, OF, P, C), which made it easier for the kids to jump from table to table, and maybe converse with a player or two they share a position with. Brian even got to chat with a fellow North Oldham Little Leaguer (an alum, anyway) in Connor Heady, who is a senior infielder:
We’re still a big fan and supporter of college softball so Brian wanted to meet some of the girls and get some autographs from them, also. They were super nice to him and of course signed his poster and hat, as well as posing for a few photos. We’ll definitely try to catch some Wildcat softball games this spring. A baseball-softball double-header sounds like a good day to me, anyway.
In all, this was a great way to start out the 2017 baseball (and softball) season. College baseball is less then a month away, and we look forward to being in the stands. Oh, and Brian ran into more players in the parking lot he needed pictures with. After all, as he told them, he is the biggest Kentucky fan…Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Promotion courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats/NCAA