Today was the second day of the much ballyhooed Area Code Games. How ballyhooed? To repeat a tweet from the ACG twitter feed there were 535 professional scouts in attendance at yesterday’s opening day. My gawd. Just a side note here, I am glad I am not a highly-regarded, 17-year old baseball pitching prospect because I’m pretty sure I’d get out there on the mound and throw my first pitch about 53-feet. That’s a LOT of pressure on these poor high schoolers.
Before we get to the action of the day, there are a few more things about the Area Code Games culture I wanted to tell you about in addition to the five from yesterday. So here you go…
FIVE MORE THINGS ABOUT THE AREA CODE GAMES.
Here are a few more tidbits I didn’t quite cover in my Day One write-up.
1- Seven Innings
You might’ve seen in my linescores from yesterday that these games are indeed just seven innings long. They also have a two-hour time limit so things stay on schedule and games get played in an orderly fashion. Also, all seven innings are played to completion. So that means even if the home team is winning after the top of the seventh, the bottom of the inning is still played.
2- It’s Mausoleum Quiet
It’s weird to go to games and hear just a smattering of applause by parents and girlfriends when a player smacks an RBI or makes a solid defensive play. The only real applause you hear is for a diving catch or the rare time there is a home run. Oh, there is also the applause you get when an injured players gets back on his fee and there will be the occasional audible “Whoas” from the stands on a frozen rope or when the pitcher nearly gets pegged by a screaming liner.
3- Keeping A Scorecard Is A Challenge
Starting lineups are merely a suggestion here. It’s all pretty lax, so coaches substitute pretty freely and without any announcement, especially in the last two or three innings. Plus, oftentimes players that were taken out early in a games are re-inserted as pinch hitters and pinch runners. I keep as good of a scorecard as possible so I can do my write-ups but there are times where I just say “screw it” by the end of the game.
4- Some Elemental Baseball Things Are Very Rare Here.
Only once have I actually seen one of these team managers come out and actually “argue” a call at an Area Code Game. You very rarely also get a time out for a 3rd-base coach to talk to a batter, a coach going out to the mound to talk to his pitcher and a pitching change in the middle of an inning happens once every blue moon. And bunting? Phewwwww… almost never (unless it’s to bunt for a base hit). Most of the time they just let these guys go out and play and whatever happens, happens. Again, it’s very laid back.
5- You Can Tune In If You Want
Today’s games were all streamed live by some outlet called “ASBN.” But don’t fret, there are more days to catch the ACG on your laptop, phone or Commodore 64. Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games are also going to be streamed live as well. And both of those days will feature five games a day. So if you’re bored…
GAME NUMBER FOUR
Rangers.. – 010 103 0 – 5 7 0
White Sox – 010 303 0 – 7 6 2
Looks like both teams had their relief pitchers show up on the mound with gas cans in their hands.
A well-pitched, nip-and-tuck game that was breezing along suddenly got pretty damn ugly in a matter of a few pitching changes. Rangers starter Joseph Menefee (Texas A&M commit) was steady, if not spectacular, locating his low-90s speedball and surrendering just a single hit and one run with three Ks and three comeback groundouts he handled himself. When Menefee left the game it was a 1-1 tie through three innings. His teammates would post a run to take the lead in the top of the fourth.
But Menefee’s replacement, Braxton Ashcraft (Baylor commit), wasn’t so fortunate. After getting two outs in the first three batters – the only hit was an infield bleeder which Ryder Green (Vanderbilt commit) beat out with his swift feet – Ashcraft walked the next batter and then gave up an infield RBI base hit which tied the game at 2-2.
Then, eight-hole hitter Timmy Borden took his mighty axe and crushed a two-run double to the wall, giving the Sox a 4-2 lead.
But the Midwest-based boys decided to be a little charitable of their own two innings later. After getting a strikeout, a walk and a pop-up, White Sox reliever Wade Beasley was inexplicably yanked with one out to go in the top of the sixth inning. As mentioned above, changing pitchers in the middle of an inning here is very very rare.
Poor Gustaf Radel. The 6’2” righty from Sioux Falls, South Dakota helped ignite the Ranger rally by surrendering a single, then a two-run double to Max Marusak (Texas Tech commit), tying the game. But the pesky Marusak wasn’t finished. When Radel unleashed a wild pitch which catcher Cole Stilwell could not locate immediately, Marusak speed-burned his way around the bases and scored all the way from second base. No foolin’. He’s that fast.
That put the Texas-based Rangers up 5-4. But in the bottom of the sixth inning the Rangers brought strapping 6’4” southpaw Chris Weber to the mound – no, not the former Michigan Fab-Five dude. The Texas A&M commit just couldn’t find the plate, walking the first three batters before giving up a two-run single to Alek Thomas to make it 6-5 Sox. A few pitches later Jarred Kelenic (Louisville commit) scored the seventh and final run on a double steal.
GAME NUMBER FIVE
Reds.. – 000 000 1 – 1 5 0
Royals – 001 000 0 – 1 3 2
Aw crap. It’s sister kissing time, Area Code Games style.
One of the bummers of this yearly event is the fact that the outcome of the games obviously isn’t the most important thing. Evaluation is. But I’m one of those competitive sorts, I love the pursuit of victory. That’s just me. I’m sure it’s also the same case for most of the players here since they play a competitive sport. But in the ACG parlance, tie games are a regularity.
And you know how they are, the old saying that finishing in a tie is like kissing your sister. (Some credit Bear Bryant for that saying, but it’s actually been around since the early 1900s.).
The Four Corners-based Reds rallied for the game-tying run in the top of the seventh and last inning and then turned to fireballing Sasha Sneider to close things down in the last half-inning, ending this one in a 1-1 tie.
The Midwest-based Royals got the drop on the Reds with a third inning score, helped by a leadoff infield single by Jake Gehri (Yale commit) and an RBI groundout from Corbin Carroll (UCLA commit). From that point on three pitchers combined to go four-up, three-down in the each of the last four frames of the game.
But the eighth inning was the Royals biggest chance to add some insurance runs as Dustin Garcia (Washington commit) and Jake Dukart (Oregon State commit) each singled to start the inning, putting men at the corners with no out. Amazingly, Garcia would end the inning stranded at third since Dukart was thrown out at second on a steal attempt (even though the call was HIIIIIIIGHLY questionable) and Henry Gargus’ walk was followed by a 5-4-3 double play a batter later. Two hits, no runs for the Royals in the sixth.
The Reds’ rally was allowed by reliever Koby Blunt (Washington State commit), who entered the game to get the final three outs. A leadoff single from Kyson Donahue (uncommitted) soon turned into a man in scoring position as he advanced to second on a passed ball. Tanner O’Tremba (Texas Tech commit) not only has one of the coolest names in the Area Code Games, but he also provided an RBI single up the middle to score Donahue from second to knot the score at 1-1. The Reds kept the pressure on with a follow-up single from Trevor Doyle (uncommitted) a batter later.
But with runners on first and second, Blunt was able to lock in and get the last two outs via a strikeout and a groundout.
GAME NUMBER SIX
Brewers – 4
Nationals – 6
Behind Ethan Hankins (Vanderbilt commit) and his three innings of work with five Ks and no earned runs, the Nats improved to 2-0 at this year’s Area Code Games. Coupled with yesterday’s 10-1 rout of Rangers, the Nationals have now scored 16 runs in 14 innings of play. Anthony Seigler went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and a walk to help spur the offense.
More from Blair Field after Day Three tomorrow.