The First Baseball Game of the Year at Busch Stadium
|photo by Keegan Hamilton|
It wasn't played by the Cardinals (you'll have to wait till Monday, when the Pirates come to town to see the Redbirds in action) but by the Mizzou and SLU. The Tigers trounced the Billikens 19-6.
If a confused spectator had wandered into the stands, there was zero chance of confusing this game for big league play. It was a sloppy, achingly slow-paced affair that included seven errors, thirteen walks, and six hit batsmen.
But despite their mediocre records (SLU is 14-13 after the loss and Mizzou 14-14) both teams have a few talented players that were worth seeing, including Mizzou centerfielder Ryan Lollis who has twice been taken in the 20th round of the MLB draft and Mizzou catcher Trevor Coleman, a second team all-Big 12 player and the Louisville Slugger freshman of the year in 2007.
The most impressive performance, though, probably came from MU's switch-hitting rightfielder Greg Folgia. He had a stellar defensive night, and making the play of the game with a running catch on the warning track, tracking down a hard-hit line drive in the leftfield gap. He finished the game with three put-outs, and also had two hits, two runs and two RBI's.
Despite their draft pedigrees, neither Lollis or Coleman were particularly impressive even against SLU's weak pitching. They were both 0-4 in the at-bats I saw. At a bulky 6' 1", though, Coleman has the body to at least move on to the next level. He also hits left-handed, which doesn't hurt his chances. Coleman also seemed to handle his staff well, making a few trips to the mound to calm his pitcher's down when they started missing their spots.
SLU's best players are Zach Miller, a freshman third-baseman from From Zumalt West and senior shortstop Ryan Bennett. Miller went 3-5 with four RBI's, including a rocket double into the LF gap. Bennett is riding an 11 game hitting streak and batting .451, good for second in the A-10. As for their draft prospects, Bennett is undersized at 5' 7" and doesn't seem to be on anyone's radar, while Miller has a long way to go before he's ready to move up.
Perhaps the best prospect on the two combined rosters, Mizzou's Kyle Gibson, a junior RHP, didn't take the mound. Gibson is big (6' 6"), and has been outstanding so far this season, pitching back-to-back complete games against two of the best teams in the Big 12-- he struck out 16 against 11th ranked Texas A&M and 11 against 14th ranked Texas. He's got 57 strikeouts to nine walks on the season. He also pitched well for Team USA over the summer. Expect him to be on the bump when Mizzou takes on 10th ranked Oklahoma this Saturday, in a game that will be televised locally.
Last night's contest was the first NCAA baseball game ever played at Busch, and, judging from the sparse attendance (see below), it might be the last.
|photo by Keegan Hamilton|