The bus pulled out of the Eastern parking lot at roughly 7 p.m. The moment the ride began, the movies started. We had an Xbox hooked up to the bus’s TV system and were able to watch DVDs. We pretty much spent all of the 18 hours watching movies except for those who decided sleeping would be a better way to spend the time. They resorted to Nyquil or Advil PM to pass the trip away in unconciousness.
At 2 p.m. we arrived at the complex in which we played. It is located in Fort Pierce, Florida, and boasts very, very high quality fields (at least in comparison to the winter torn fields that we play on everywhere else we go).
We stepped off the bus, and with no moment to rest, we went directly to one of the fields and started practice. We had an intersquad game until five, and then headed off to dinner.
We had breakfast at a set time each day, so even when we had a night game, we would have to be up bright and early for food.
Breakfast was at 7:45 a.m. Then we had about half an hour to relax before heading to the fields to play the first game of a double-header.
Eastern vs. Northwood:
Northwood is a division two school, so we knew they would be good, although last year’s team played relatively well against them. But the day was mired with fielding errors, a lack of hitting, and just bad baseball. It was not a fun game to be a part of. The final score was Northwood 9, Eastern 3.
Eastern vs. Pitt-Greensburg:
This game was more of the same. They hit the ball really well, and kept getting singles. All of a sudden our thoughts about ourselves being a pretty good team this year were faltering. The final score was Pitt-Greensburg 12, Eastern 0. We were playing well below our potential, and needed to step it up soon.
We woke up for breakfast at 8 a.m. and it seemed quite wasteful since our game was a night game. We relaxed all day, went to the pool, and got extra sleep. Then it was game time.
Eastern vs. Manhattinville:
I started this game out on the mound. It wasn’t exactly my best start ever. I struggled to simply throw strikes, and my poor start seemed to rub off on everyone else. While we only lost by four, it was a very disappointing game. At one point we had the bases loaded with only one out. We proceeded to strike out looking twice in a row, and came out of the inning with nothing. This loss hurt far more than the other two. We knew we were better than this team, and we just beat ourselves by making errors on fundamental plays and striking out looking, not even swinging at the ball.
This was our day off. We had breakfast at 8:45a.m. and relaxed until it was time to watch some baseball. We went to a Mets spring training game and it was pretty close. The Mets ended up winning. Not that most of us really cared either way.
Later that night, we had a rather emotional team meeting to discuss how we thought we could turn all of this around. We knew it was time to start winning.
But the meeting did not do too much. The next day we hit rock bottom.
The day began bright and early at 6 a.m. We had a morning game against Bethany, followed by a game against Penn State-Behrend. It rained steadily all day, and by the fifth inning of the Bethany game we called it quits.
Coach decided that it was time for us to run. So we ran. And then ran some more. As hard as it was, it was for the best. In the end we worked together to make sure everyone got the job done and really started to act like a team.
After the run, one of the captains delivered a speech berating us for playing so poorly that we had to run, and finally things clicked; we didn’t go right on to winning, but we started playing much better.
Rather than our scheduled 9 a.m. practice we had our game against Geneva who was already 8 and 1. They had destroyed teams that had beaten us.
Eastern vs. Geneva:
Shane Rineer pitched a two hitter through six and two thirds innings. Our offense was fueled by guys getting on base, and a few timely hits.
Especially noticeable were Ken Long and Chris Hoffman. We were getting the job done when we had to. Despite our efforts, we did not win. Geneva scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh, and won 7-6. We lost, and anything less than a win is not good enough. But we also improved.
Eastern vs. Penn State-Behrend:
We didn’t play badly in this game, just had one bad inning in the field which gave up three of their runs, though Trevor Gustafson pitched the next seven innings and only gave up two. The final score was 5-0. The lack of runs for our team was not because of a lack of hitting, but because of a lack of timely hitting. This game was another loss, but it was not nearly as bad as the others. We only really lost because of a few mistakes.
Today we would be playing the most important game for coach. DelVal. Coach Burke played for DelVal, and so going up against his old coach was something of a big deal.
Eastern vs. Delaware Valley:
The game turned out to be a classic example of a slugfest. We played our game: small ball. We couldn’t really steal bases because their catcher had a cannon for an arm, but we hit singles over and over again. We also fielded better than in the past and things started coming together. We won, finally. After pounding out eighteen hits, we won by one run.
We showered, loaded up, and drove home, getting back at around 2 p.m. on Saturday.
As a whole this trip appears a failure. After all we did go 1-6. But I think, looking at the intangible things gained over this trip, there is value. We became a team. That, in and of itself, is possibly the most important aspect of success in baseball. Now is the time for us to prove it in the standings. Get ready.