March 19, 2003
NJ Turnpike at night like a Lunar Landscape...
Sorry Bruce, but that song got played last night as we held on for our sixth straight win over Rutgers, the State University of NJ. The last four games were all decided by one run. It seems to always come down to the last inning against Fred Hill's boys from the Garden State.
Chris Saxton came in to face the tying run in the ninth with nobody out. He left with that run stranded at second base and another save in his pocket. I told you Saxie would be back! Another good night for Mike Murray as he went 2-3 with three runs scored. He also got drilled with a pitch directly on the American flag on the back of his helmet. When I met him at first base, you could see the imprint of the ball and its laces right on the flag sticker. Mike looked at me and said "God Bless America". Amen.
Evan Brannon had two big RIBs with the bases loaded, Rusty Brown had two hits and three RBIs, Pali was two-for-four with two runs scored and an RBI, and Orton and Fiorentino each had two hits. Oh yeah, Gerber didn't start despite his .500 batting average, so when he entered as a sub he singled and raised his average over .500. "Take that old man!" At least I thought I heard somebody say that.
Back to Bama!
We hit the road today, destination Jacksonville, Alabama. One of my favorite of all the fifty states! There won't be as many fans in the stands as the last time we played on that soil, but we face a stiff challenge. Like the rest of our conference teams, Jax St is playing well and seems much improved over last season. Their Friday night pitcher has been the A-Sun Pitcher of the Week the last two weeks running.
Bombs Bursting in Air...
Normally that is just a line we hear in the National Anthem at the start of each baseball game. Last night it changed.
While our 18-22 year old men were fighting off the Rutgers onslaught, a very different, far more serious fight began. After the game we spoke about what was transpiring in the world and what it means to all of us. Whatever the politics are that got us to this point, the fact remains that young men and women are putting their lives on the line each day since last night. Their goal is to preserve the American way of life.
What responsibility do we have to those young people? Well, I think first we need to remember them in our prayers. Ask for their quick safe return to the families and friends back home. Then we need to live our lives to the full potential that God and our country have provided. This isn't the time to shirk our responsibilities as coaches and fathers, students and sons, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors. If our job as a student athlete is to attend class and play hard on the field, then we need to uphold our end. Americans everywhere need to put the same effort and commitment into our daily lives as the kids facing death each day. That is our duty. KC