One last entry for the 2011-12 academic year.

Monday I covered a baseball sectional championship game for a christian school that we normally don’t cover. Part of that is because this is the first year the school, GCA, has fielded a baseball team. I’m really not sure why we don’t cover them in basketball all season, but that’s not my decision.

Anyway…it was quite the accomplishment for them to make the sectional final in their first year, obviously. It is worth noting, though, that they played in a four-team sectional and beat the state school for the deaf to reach the final. Not the toughest path in the world, but a big deal anyway.

I’m not sure if it has something to d with the Indy 500 or maybe it’s just tradition, but there are usually no sectional baseball games on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, but there are games played on Memorial Day morning. So I rolled onto the field at 9:45 for a 10 am game. The teams were milling about, parents were filling the stands, and music was blaring on the PA. I climbed the steps to the press box to get the lineups and when I opened the door, was asked rather brusquely, “Can I help you?” by one of the men in there.

“Um, do you have the lineups yet?”

“Well, no, why do you need them?”

“I’m a reporter. I’m covering the game.”

“Oh, I see.” Long pause. “Well, we don’t have them yet. The umpires aren’t even here yet. You’re kind of early, you know.”

This 15 minutes before first pitch is scheduled.

“OK, well don’t worry about it. I can get them as the players come to bat.”

I guess they’re not used to newspapers covering games played at this field and then surprised when a reporter shows up a few minutes before the game starts so we can get lineups, grab a seat, etc. I was glad I had put sunscreen on because I clearly wasn’t welcome to sit by the guys running the official scorebook. I’ll admit I laughed a little when, 30 seconds later, the umpires walked to home plate and summoned the coaches over to exchange lineup cards. I was soooo early!

I knew from watching warmups that GCA might be in some trouble. It’s not that the team they were playing was great – they weren’t ranked and hadn’t even received votes in the most recent state poll – but rather that GCA was kicking the ball all over the place in infield practice. They went quietly, 1-2-3, in the top of the first and when the pitcher climbed the mound, even his easy warmup tosses were sailing over the catcher’s head.

He didn’t do terribly. He only gave up four runs in the first and one in the second. And then the wheels fell off…

Fifteen batters went to the plate in the third. Four of those batters got hits. Two were hit by pitches. Six were walked. There were three stolen bases. One error. Four wild pitches. Eleven runs scored for the inning. Mercy rule here we come!

The next inning and a half crawled by until we reached the magic 4.5 inning mark when the game ended 16-0.

Normally when I cover a team, I can read previous stories to get some context, develop some questions to ask, etc. In this case I had nothing to work with, so I kind of dreaded talking to the coach. I was put at ease, though, when I saw him speak to his players after the game. Despite getting crushed, they all laughed and smiled and held their heads high.

When I spoke with him, he was great. I focused on the importance of reaching the sectional final, what the first year of baseball meant for the school, etc. I learned that most of the players on the team hadn’t played baseball in 3-4 years. Another, one of two seniors on the team, hadn’t played in eight years. He was one of the leading scorers in the state in basketball last season and is likely headed to a smaller D1 school to hoop next year. He just came out to support the younger guys who were playing. Cool stuff.

The hardest part of writing about a blowout is finding things to write about that don’t have to do with the result. Here I had some interesting stories and good quotes and was able to turn it into a “the future is bright” type piece instead of focusing on a 16-run loss. I don’t know if it was a great story, but it was fun to write.

And I got paid to watch baseball on Memorial Day. That’s not bad.

Football is only three months away…