Fearing Snowpocalypse '15, this weekend's series against University of Illinois-Chicago (The fightin' flames!) has been cancelled. In its stead, Ol' Corbs decided to take his team to visit the legion of VU alums plying their trade in MLB Spring Training camps and play three games against the Indiana State Sycamores (as "Also the Hoosiers" was deemed too silly a nickname by the administration). We'll play three games at the Tampa Rays' (nee Satan Fish) spring training complex and home of the A-Ball Port Charlotte Stone Crabs (The fightin' crabs!).
Here is the totality of knowledge I possess about Indiana State University: 1) Larry Bird went there. 2) Larry Bird's unnerving moustache went there. 3) Their uniforms are blue.
So let's fire up the ol' Ask Jeeves and see what we can learn about them.
First, I was kind of lying when I said I knew basically nothing about ISU. I do know that they were awarded a #2 seed in last year's NCAA tournament, meaning the baseball cognoscenti took them for a top 32 team. They were not. They lost their first two games and were escorted from the premises before the opening weekend was finished.
So far this season, the Sycamores have brought their bats, hanging 11, 15, and 5 on UL-Monroe, Grambling State, and Central Arkansas, respectively (Central Arkansas scored 8, though, so ISU is 2-1). I'd imagine that changes after Carson Fulmer pounds them into a jelly, but what do I know? Let's take a closer look at their roster:
Hitter to Watch Out For (Small Sample Size Edition):
#5 INF Derek "Daryl" Hannahs
The RS Senior Ohio State transfer has made quite the splash to start the season, hitting .571/.600/.714 with two 2Bs. I don't know much about his blade running ability, but he has struck out only twice and has a walk to remember. Luckily, we don't have any pitchers named William, as he would likely kill Bill 2. Wall Street.
Hitter to Watch Out For (Larger Sample Size Edition):
Same dude. Last year, he went .301/.345/.333. I'd also keep an eye out for their one true power hitter (kind of), Jacob Hayes, who went .275/.384/.431 with 12 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 4 HRs, and led the team with 36 RBI (you read that right... last year's Sycamores didn't exactly score runs). Hayes is another RS Senior transfer from an Ohio State University. They both likely realized Ohio is a terrible place filled with garbage people and moved on to greener pastures.
Pitcher to Watch Out For (Small Sample Size Edition):
#30 Sophomore RHP Jeremy McKinney
Sure he's only thrown 3 and 1/3 innings this year, and walked 3 in the process, but the dude K'd 5 and only allowed 1 hit. That's not nothing.
Pitcher to Watch Out For (Larger Sample Size Edition):
#17 Senior LHP David "Party" Stagg
The big lefty (6'3" 230lbs) is their Friday starter, and though he's got a near 10 ERA in one start this year, he went 7-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 15 starts in '14. Based on baseball intuition and no real research of any kind, I'm going to assume he's the kind of soft-tossing lefty that traditionally gives Vandy hitters fits, and start drinking pretty much immediately.
On the Mound:
Friday - RHP Carson Fulmer (1-0, 0.00) v. LHP David Stagg (0-0, 9.82)
Saturday - LHP John Kilichowski (0-0, 9.82) v. LHP Jeff Degano (1-0, 6.35)
Sunday - TBA v. TBA (ooh... a mystery)
It would appear that the Turd's horrid performance against Santa Clara has knocked him out of his Sunday slot. May I suggest Philip Pfeifer? I may. Let's give his slot to Pfeifer.
Credit both teams with coming up with an amicable solution to their relative Snowpocalypses. Football teams have to draw up contracts years, sometimes decades, in advance to make a game happen, but these two baseball programs made this happen in a ten minute conversation with Rays owner Stuart Sternberg. I like to think scotch was involved.
ISU's likely a slight uptick in competition from UIC, so these boys will have to not treat this trip like the vacation it clearly is to emerge unscathed. I say we sweep, or take 2 of 3 at worst.
I have no idea if any of this is going to be televised, but that's Jenn's problem, as she'll be charged with writing the recap. I expect specific recounts of key moments and a firm adherence to irreverence and bourbon. There's no other way to write about baseball.
Oh, and RIP Lesley Gore. Your song was perhaps my favorite of my high school batter's box music selections (okay... 2nd to It's Raining Men).