Thursday’s washout provided plenty of time for ballpark gossip of how the other half sees the team you learn to take for granted.
Omaha – Thursday’s downpour was a bummer for the fans who had traveled from all points of the Big Ten to see their respective teams in action; but it was a veritable bonanza for writers who took the time, the occasion, to hang around the dugouts and the bowels of TD Ameritrade Park.
Mark Twain once said, loosely quoting Shakespeare, that “familiarity breeds contempt”, meaning in a baseball sense that when you see one team on a consistent basis you tend to overlook just how good individual players really are…and things that the opposition might see and fear.
When you see a team play 40 times a year you do become accustomed to familiarity, but such was the case Thursday with comments heard about the Buckeyes, in particular…and who on this team strikes the most fear in the heart of an opponent when the game is on the line.
“Ronnie Dawson,” said a member of the Maryland coaching staff, sitting on a dugout bench and staring out into the rain and lightning over downtown Omaha.
“He’s so strong and right now he doesn’t seem to miss any pitch he wants to hit. He doesn’t look like the same hitter we saw last year when we played them in Columbus. He looks much more confident and much more patient.”
The acknowledged leader of the Buckeyes’ pitching staff is junior Tanner Tully, who continued his mastery of the Michigan Wolverines in Wednesday’s opener, tossing an 8-3 win, the third in his career over the “team up north.”
“He’s tough,” said a member of the Michigan lineup. “He pounds the bottom of the strike zone and his off-speed command is very good. You can’t take him for granted. If he gives up something he comes right back to his game. He’s a pretty cool customer out there.”
More than one player, coach, and scout in attendance at the tournament has been impressed with the play of third baseball Nick Sergakis, who’s .350 average, 10 home runs, and 35 RBIs are impressive…but that’s just the start.
“He’s the best third baseman I’ve seen,” said one Marylander. “I mean, he seems to catch everything he can get to. You see defensive highlights of it on TV. He must be pretty good.”
“The two home runs against Michigan were a surprise,” said a member of the Iowa entourage of Sergakis. “They really weren’t bad pitches but his bat speed is so good he can just make good contact and still hit the ball a long way.”
And finally, more than one scouting from behind home plate in Wednesday’s win over Michigan were impressed with the general presence of junior catcher, and co-captain, Jalen Washington.
“He doesn’t have the best arm out there,” said one, “but he’s a very confident-looking catcher behind the plate. He gives you the impression of leadership and I think he hits harder than his (batting) average indicates. I like him.”
Such was Twain quoting Shakespeare.
And such as it is…for whoever said that the grass always looks greener on the other side of the field. Baseball talk on a rainy day!