Diamond Notes #5: A Victorious Bus Ride Home

Dominic Altobelli led the offense in Lansing this last weekend, hitting .438 with two doubles and two RBIs.
Dominic Altobelli led the offense in Lansing this last weekend, hitting .438 with two doubles and two RBIs.

March 31, 2008

I-69 South, Ind. - Hey Illini fans!

We're still trying to thaw out after our series at Michigan State this weekend. They had a few inches of snow in East Lansing Thursday night and Friday morning, which caused our Friday afternoon game to get postponed while they got all the snow off the field and it dried out. That moved every game back a little bit and we ended up playing a doubleheader on Saturday and another one Sunday.

In case you were following along on Gametracker and were confused by how the doubleheaders were set up, we have to play the games in the order they were scheduled - so the first game of Saturday's doubleheader was a nine-inning contest (like Friday's scheduled game) and the second game of Saturday's doubleheader was a seven-inning game (like the first game on Saturday should have been). The order was reversed on Sunday.

Since we didn't play on Friday, there was a lot of free time after a light workout around noon. Some of the guys hopped on the bus and headed over to a mall nearby to kill some time - anything to get out of the hotel for a little while. The people who decided not to go to the mall worked on some homework or spent time with family who came up to the series. Good thing it's NCAA tournament time. Watching those game took up the evening hours.

Despite the cold weather and uncertainty about game times, our guys responded very well. We won both games of the doubleheader on Saturday and took the first one Sunday before losing the last game, 3-2. We had four great outings by our starting pitchers this weekend. Kevin Manson started the weekend off right with six solid innings, and Mike Stankiewicz threw a complete-game four-hit shutout in the second Saturday game. Scott Shaw also threw a complete game in the third game of the series. Unfortunately, we couldn't get Aaron Martin enough runs for him to get the victory, but he threw 7.1 good innings and only gave up two earned runs.

Our hitters did a good job of being patient at the plate and getting good pitches to hit. Any time you can be patient and wait for good pitches it puts pressure on the opponent's pitching staff. Dominic Altobelli went 5-for-8 at the plate on Saturday and finished the series hitting .438 (7-for-16) in Big Ten action. Kyle Hudson was on base at a .444 clip and stole three bases in three attempts.

So a 3-1 record in the opening Big Ten series is pretty solid, even though we had a great chance to win them all. Up next is a road trip to Southern Illinois on Tuesday, which is always a tough rivalry game. On Wednesday, we host Saint Louis, which was supposed to be our home opener on the new turf. But since we had two make-up home games last week, it's really our third game in front of the home faithful. If you can make it out on Wednesday night they're giving away schedule magnets, which are always a nice addition to the home (or office) refrigerator. Our next Big Ten series is on the road at Indiana next weekend.

The major debate on the trip home centered around coming up with a movie to put in the bus DVD player. A few of us wanted to watch some episodes of Seinfeld, but that was shot down quickly. Too bad...we ended up watching Blood Diamond, which turned out to be pretty good.

Go Illini!
Michael Schroeder