Louisville Bats vs. Charlotte Knights (International League)
Louisville Slugger Field-Louisville, KY: Finally our first Bats game of the season. It was a little cool, and we had some rain, but nothing that would spoil out fun. Back with our Sunday seats, also, which we’ve had for a few years now. It was also Mother’s Day, so there was the ‘pink’ theme to the games.
We had some free baseball from the get go, as the teams finished three innings of Saturday nights game that was suspended due to rain. The Knights beat the Bats 7-6 in this one, but Louisville would get revenge in game two, as that one would go extra innings.
Christian Colon lead the way for the Bats, going 3-4 with an RBI. Phillip Ervin added a pair of RBI’s of his own, as well as a run scored. Anthony Bass ended up with the win for Louisville, pitching the final 1.2 innings, including the 10th. In the bottom of the 10th, Stuart Turner earned a base on balls, scoring Ervin for the win. FINAL: Bats 5, Knights 4.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago White Sox (NL/AL)
Busch Stadium-St. Louis, MO: We were back at Busch the next morning for a day game, and I honestly couldn’t believe how big the crowd was. There were 38,000 fans the night before, but a day game in the middle of the week drawing 37,000 was amazing. We got to the ballpark as early as we could, and scarfed down some $10 hot dogs before game time. We had nice seats in the outfield’s lower level, which gave us a different view of the game. It was a hot day, but the breeze and cloud cover was our saving grace.
This was another solid game for the home town Cards. Starting pitcher Carlos Martinez blasted his first ever home run to give St. Louis the early lead. Dexter Fowler added to that with a two-run homer of his own in the seventh inning. Martinez pitched a solid 7.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits while striking out five. Bud Norris earned the four-out save with two strike outs. The White Sox came back late in the game to make it interesting, but the Cards held on for the win. Yadi Molina was 2-3 in the game, also. Final: Cardinals 3, White Sox 2.
What a fun day, and again I’m blown away from the love and support for this team here in St. Louis. Despite the cost, these were some fun games to go to, and a must for any baseball fan. St. Louis has some nice areas and fun things to do, so I’ll probably get the kids out this way at some point.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago White Sox (NL/AL)
Busch Stadium-St. Louis, MO: After a crazy day and long drive, we finally arrived in St. Louis! Busch Stadium is a great place to watch a ballgame, but boy was it expensive. Lucky for us I got really cheap seats off Seat Geek, but every other expense really took it’s toll. We had some pretty decent seats, though, we were up high but in the front row so we had a great view of all of the action, and able to see the beautiful ballpark.
The game itself was a great one. The Cardinals took the lead with a Tommy Pham home run, but later lost the lead. Down 2-1 in the ninth, Matt Carpenter hit a home run to tie the game, then Yadir Molina’s base hit knocked in the winning run for a walk off. Yadi was 2-4 on the day, and I can really see why Cardinal fans love this guy so much. On he mound, Michael Wacha got the start, going five innings, giving up two runs on five hits, and striking out three. Bud Norris would earn he win in relief, pitching one scoreless inning.
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.
Charlotte Knights vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (International League)
Knights Stadium-Fort Mill, SC: Well, it was a beautiful night in Fort Mill, anyway. The stadium is located just south of Charlotte. It was a Saturday game, so there was a really good crowd, and again it was good to see so many kids and families. It was also breast cancer awareness night, so the Knights were wearing their pink jerseys that were auctioned off after the game. The Knights had two mascots on hand, with Homer being the boy dragon, but I didn’t catch the name of the female one. The Charlotte Knights cheerleaders/dance team was also on hand, the lovely KnightinGals. Knights Stadium is nothing spectacular, but is good size for Triple-A. It’s a good walk up the stairs from the front row to the concourse. Some fans are excited by the new stadium being built downtown, but most feel it will bring higher prices for tickets and concessions. The current stadium isn’t that far from Charlotte, and has plenty of parking, so I think an upgrade would be better than a new one. We ended up moving from the front row to the upper deck to get a better view of the action, too. There’s not a bad seat in the house, but we love the upper deck. We met some great baseball fans in Charlotte, and it was a great night for baseball.
The game itself wasn’t much fun for the home town fans, but there seemed to plenty of Red Sox fans cheering the visitors. I guess the Nation really is expanded, because we met plenty of BoSox fans in both North and South Carolina. It was good to see former Whitecap Justin Henry play again, also, for the PawSox. He played in West Michigan back in 2007. Final score: Charlotte 0, PawSox 4.
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball