Friday, December 11, 2009

Making the Grade

The fall term ended the day before Thanksgiving and the grades have finally been posted. And after looking at the team's grades, the coaching staff has a lot to be thankful for. Overall, the job the players did in the classroom was outstanding! Eight players were on the Dean's List and another 13 were above a 3.0 GPA. Great job this fall and keep it up!

Matt Abraham
Joe Gaza
Justin Moriarty
Alex Koszulinski
Johnny Perez
Brendan Ryan
Dan Scott
Andrew Wulbecker

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Jersey of the Fourth Kind

The Cardinals will be sporting new alternate uniforms for the 2010 season (see right). Continuing on last year's addition of black into the color scheme, the Cards have added a fourth jersey to their wardrobe.

The new "cards" script will give a different look than the block "NC" (which can be seen below) which has been worn the past two seasons. Nick Robinson joined Cave contributors Dan Cladis and Justin Moriarty in a photo shoot which showed off the new hats from 2009, which gives a good look at the current uniform scheme.

The new Nike jersey will not be designated for any certain days or games but will give the team more options on longer trips, such as the season-opening Franklin, Indiana series or the week-long Florida trip. The Cards will also be sporting performance gear by Nike. Look for more pics to come as the year progresses.

Dan Cladis (left), Justin Moriarty (center), Nick Robinson (right) in a 2009 uniform photo shoot.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Broken Record

I'm really getting tired of talking about it but this weather stinks! Not only did the weather wreak havoc with our practice schedule the entire fall, but most recently the rain forced the cancellation of the Riverwalk Series after only one game. The series was scheduled to be a best-of-3 format but after a gorgeous day for the series opener, the next two days were washed out.

Even though the series was cut short, the game that was played was full of positives. No, we didn't get to see everyone play (the player/managers were hoping to get in two more games) but the ones who did play showed a lot. The Black team took game one and ultimately the series by an 8-3 count. If it is fair to give a MVP award after one game then Joe Wietecha would have earned it. Wietecha went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and another two driven in. Oh yeah, he also swiped two bases. Sophomore/pitcher Tyler Herman picked up the win allowing zero runs scored on one hit in 2.0 innings pitched.

Black 8, Red 3
Black Team
Nick Robinson, SS: 2-for-4, R, 2 RBI
Michael Corrigan, C: 2-for-3, R
Mike Charles, P: 2.0 IP, R (0 ER), 2 H, 4 K

Red Team
Dave Williams, OF: 2-for-3
Nate Dobrez, DH: 1-for-2, 2 RBI

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another Wash Out

Mother Nature has involved herself in matters that don't concern her once again. For what seems like the tenth time this fall, a practice was canceled due to rain. But thanks to a team effort by the Cardinal players, most of the standing water was cleared off the field. The goal is to intersquad tomorrow, provided there isn't too much rain overnight. We'll see what happens over the next few days. In the meantime, here's a little of what's happening in the program.

  • Fall Prospect Camp set for Sunday with 66 recruits signed up
  • Riverwalk Series scheduled as Best-of-3 series to begin on Monday
  • Entering final few days of practice for Fall '09

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Halfway Home?

We finished our second week of fall practice yesterday with what all the coaches agree was a productive practice. What made it so productive, or at least played a role, was the lack of rain. Something that has not been the case the past few days. In fact, as I write this, puddles are beginning to form in the infield so this weekend could be in question. We have already had more days this fall affected by weather than we did the entire fall in 2008. I suppose this means we will have a great spring!

A Division III baseball season is 19 weeks long, including conference tournaments and fall ball. Each team has to decide how to use those weeks for practice. Northern teams are obviously at a disadvantage but because the CCIW schedule starts a week later, we may decide to use that week in October as opposed to January. We have used two of four so far but if the weather looks better later this month, we may use it then. If the rain keeps up all month, we will probably use it in the winter.

  • Freshman Brendan Ryan is back at practice after taking a foul ball off the mask, suffering a minor concussion.
  • Over 40 high school players have registered for the 2009 Fall Prospect Camp
  • Tom Purcell Classic set for Saturday, October 24 at 9:00 am
  • Riverwalk Series will be played from October 19-23 at The Zimm

Monday, September 28, 2009

Welcome Back

We wrapped our first week of fall ball yesterday after a 10-inning intersquad scrimmage at The Zimm. I don't really remember the score but there were a lot of memorable plays and performances during the course of the day. A few of the freshman looked like seasoned veterans and some players looked a little rusty. There is a different setup to this year's fall ball from 2008. We have a better understanding of our personnel so we can spend more time on developing the players we have instead of finding out what our players can do.

The Mondays and Wednesdays will primarily be individual work while Fridays and Saturdays will be mostly team days, with Saturdays consisting of intersquad games. The fall will conclude with the Riverwalk Series, a three-game series in October.

  • Craig Stefan ('87) will enter into the North Central Hall of Fame during this year's Homecoming Festivities
  • Michael Corrigan, Mike Kloss, Nick Robinson, Jeremiah Torres and Andrew Wulbecker participated in the CCIW Scout Day on Sunday night
  • Brendan Ryan hit the first home run of the fall in the third inning of Sunday's intersquad game
  • Mike Charles made efficient use of his time on the mound, retiring the side on six pitches

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Remodling the Cave

It has been a long time between posts but that has given me some time to think about which direction The Coach's Cave will go. When the Cardinals begin their fall workouts in mid-September, I will still provide updates on, recaps, standings, and pictures on the fall intersquad games, which will be better known as the "Riverwalk Series" in a few months.

I would like to feature posts from different players on the roster in addition to our regular contributing authors, namely Justin Moriarty and Dan Cladis. The Cave would like to thank the tandem for their input over the past season and look forward to their thoughts in the future. It is my hope, however, to gain different insights into the college student-athlete and hear the thoughts from other players. I will also continue with and expand on the video features on The Cave's YouTube site.

All this is an effort to keep fans of the Cardinals connected to the program. Hopefully you'll keep reading. We'll see you in a few weeks.

Friday, May 8, 2009

End of Week 6

With week 6 of the term winding down and the final weekend of baseball set for tomorrow and Sunday I thought that I would blog a little bit. Let's make no mistake that 2009, personally and from a team standpoint, has been disappointing. We are no where close to where we wanted to be and I feel heartbroken for the Seniors going out like this and so should everybody else involved. I'll point the finger at myself because I was nothing short of atrocious this season and it was hard coping with not being a contributor to the team like I planned on being. This isn't me hanging my head or lacking confidence, its acknowledging and evaluating my play and the standard I hold myself to. It will provide me more determination and more fire this off-season to want to come back physically and mentally above where I have been in the past as well as exhibit more leadership on and off the field.

I can promise you this....... we will not go through another season of embarrassment as we did this year. We will learn how to close games out and beat teams more consistently when we have games in hand. The players on the field control what happens in the course of the games and too many times this has fallen out of sight. I myself have been a victim of finding blame or reason for something that hasn't gone our way. I look forward to competing with the other teams in the CCIW for our team goal: a conference championship. One Team, One Goal is a motto that I am throwing out there for next season. No individual accolades because that doesn't get you anywhere and this is an issue that will be addressed.

As for this weekend, I advise all the guys to treat Mom extra special on Sunday. I want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to my mom, Barb, who has always been there for me no matter what the situation. I love you very much Mom and can't wait to see you Sunday.

End the week and the season on a high note. Hope to see you all out Saturday and Sunday. Thanks again for all the blog support this season. JMO 7

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Life is Bigger than Baseball


There haven't been many times that I personally have been involved in something that is bigger than the game itself and we all had the privilege of witnessing a remarkable event yesterday. A few days ago Aurora Catcher Ray Kosmicki lost his father. The very next day, Senior day for the Spartans, Ray opted to play with a heavy heart. I found it admirable that one of our baseball peers could muster the strength and play at a high level after such an emotional 24 hours. None of us know Ray but I can tell you that is something that I will never forget. The strength he displayed to everyone at the ballpark is overwhelming and I can't praise the kid enough for the toughness he showed. Many of us went up to the plate for our first AB and tapped his shinguards signaling that we were thinking of him. Of course all of our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family at this difficult time.

As for the game itself. The Cardinals were victorious 12-8 thanks to a strong offensive performance from Freshman phenom Joe Turek and Senior relief pitcher Joe Gaza. Turek's been mashing the ball all year and he will be a headache for many teams the next 3 years. Gaza is ending his career at North Central and has strung together strong appearances his last three times out. Congrats to those guys. The season is winding down and our goal is to take the last three scheduled ballgames to try and leave on a high note and build on something for next season. Have a terrific Tuesday everyone

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another Quality Start from Kloss


Great baseball was on display on a less than glamorous day in Kenosha. I'm sorry that I was unable to post last night because I was wrapped up in the Cubs game taking place in Arizona. In game 1 yesterday a pitcher's dual evolved between Trace Ruffie of Carthage and our own Mike Kloss. Mike pitched 9 shutout innings of baseball (as did Ruffie). The tenth inning proved to be fatal as Carthage rallied to score the lone run of the game. It was yet another great performance by our "ace" and Kloss has absolutely been an all-conference performer for us this season.

Game 2's home end of the 4th inning was the dagger as Carthage put an 8 spot up. The bats responded back with 5 in the top of the 5th and we later added another run but it wasn't enough as Carthage took game 2 by a score of 8-6. It was a little disheartening leaving Kenosha without a win but we played with the top ranked team in the region for 17 1/2 innings and that is something Coach said to be proud of. Of course its bittersweet but what can you do? Its baseball. With the season winding down we need to dig deep and take the final game today at 4 pm in Naperville if we want a shot at the conference tourney.

I want to personally thank all the parents that came to Carthage (perhaps for a second time this week) and fought the cold. Your support for our team means more than you think and I love looking around and seeing people I consider my second family. I have younger brothers so my Mom and Dad are usually obligated to stay at home and be involved with them. Having my friends parents out at the ballgames means a lot to me.

Week 5 is especially busy with all the mid-terms scheduled for class so I'm going to attempt to get some work done for the classroom. Hope to see you all today.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wash Out Weekend

There was a valiant effort made by Carthage and North Central to try and squeeze at least one game in this weekends schedule but it just wasn't meant to be. Apparently the baseball gods did not want to see this CCIW match-up take place this weekend. So instead Coach Fitzgerald along with Coach Schmidt of Carthage will juggle the schedule to work something out.

Even though no baseball was played, the Cardinals did gain some ground on Augustana who lost to North Park on Saturday. We are hot on their tails and are looking to make a move past the Vikings.

Yesterday was quite an amusing day. We basically drove up to Kenosha to take an extended batting practice indoors and eat sack lunches provided by the dining hall. However, the Blog Master himself, Coach Bunnell, amused us all when he didn't get the 'memo' the games were cancelled (or banged as Coach Bogan says) for the day. So his mini-bus departed a little later than the rest of the team. And he was shorted a snickers bar in his sack lunch which at the moment is resting nicely in my stomach. Sorry about the confusion B.

Today we made a pretty good effort to get the water off the tarp and then another round of monsoons came whiping us out yet again. Watching the guys use the tarp as a slip N' slide made me think of being a little kid again and just having fun. The coaches received a few buckets of water over their head which was also amusing.

It was an undefeated weekend for the Cardinals and hopefully when the weather cooperates we will make a run at the tournament. Until next time........

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bouncing Back

It was good to get a sweep of Millikin today. That goes without saying. Justin Moriarty gives you a recap in his post. So the one thing I will say is that it was good to see the team respond to a pair of tough losses earlier in the week...especially last night's. Right now, we sit two games out of the playoffs so now is as good of a time to get on a roll as any. There are some pics from the Illinois Wesleyan game on Thursday and there may be one or two from a Wheaton game.

SEND ME YOUR PICTURES: I've noticed throughout the course of the season a number of parents taking action shots during the games. If you would like those photos displayed in The Cave just email a digital copy to

Full View of Photos

Double Header Sweep

Game 1 saw the Cardinals victorious over the Millikin Big Blue by a score of 6-4. Mike Kloss earned yet another win going all 9 today. There were a host of Cardinals that helped contribute by putting runs up on the board including Joe Turek who homered yet again.

Game 2 was an 11-3 win and once again it was a cumulative effort by everyone to end the day on a high note. Joe Heller, Danny Scott, Matt Abraham, and Steve Hlavac all had good days at the plate. Also, Nate Arenson did a great job out of the bullpen to positively contribute in game 2.

We did a lot of good things today in every aspect and its tough to name everyone so I'm sorry if I left anybody out. It was just a 'great day to be a Cardinal' I guess.

This marks the first time all year that we have won 2 games in a row. If we complete the sweep tomorrow against Millikin that's called a WINNING STREAK and this would be a great time to start getting hot.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

No Game Today

Today's rubber game with Illinois Wesleyan has been postponed due to inclement weather. The game will be made up on Thursday at 3:00 pm. This will bump the game with Concordia to a later date which has not yet been determined.

Monday, April 13, 2009

One for the Record Books?

Aside from what could have been a record low temperature (with the wind) for Friday's double-header, there may have been another record set during the opening game of our series with Elmhurst. Junior/right-hander Mike Kloss struck out a career high 17 hitters in a 4-2 win at Elmhurst. Initial research has left the results inconclusive so I can only speculate when saying that this was also a North Central record. After checking with both the North Central k and the CCIW website, there was nothing to prove otherwise. So until there is evidence refuting this feat, congratulations are in order to Mike Kloss on an impressive accomplishment.

As far as the series concerned, it was a melancholy win on Saturday after yet another disappointing split on Friday. Nevertheless, it is always a goal to win the series which is what we did. We will have that opportunity later this week in the rubber game with Illinois Wesleyan.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What a Performance!

The Cardinals took game 1 of a two game set against Elmhurst today. I don't know what it is but every time I seem to post about a successful win, Mike Kloss is in the middle of it. Today is not going to be any different. Kloss punched out 17, yes 17, Blue Jay hitters today in the fridged temperatures. I can't recall ever being a part of something as dominating as what Mike did today. He battled all day long and fortuantely we were able to put up runs for him. Mike is a friend of mine, but I don't like him more than any of the other guys on the team. However, he has been our ace all year and has done some amazing things for us when he is given the ball so I will give him all the credit in the world. For those of you not familar with the game, 17 strikeouts is astonishing! I'm throwing myself out on a limb and predicting a CCIW Pitcher of the week award heading to him early next week.

Danny Scott did a great job at the top of the order and put down a clutch bunt with the bases loaded, Andrew Wulbecker (Uncle Wully as some of us call him) had a great day coming up with some clutch hits and there were other Cardinals who contributed as well. Game 1 was just fun to watch and I like being a fan in this aspect.

Unfortunately we let Game 2 slip away and we need to take this series tomorrow afternoon at The Zimm. Hope to see you out there!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Back at It

After some time off due to a few inches of snow, we are ready to take the field today against Wheaton. The game itself will be played at Alexian Field in Schaumburg (Photo courtesy of It looks like a great place to play so it should be a fun day to play. The weather forecast is calling for sunny skies and temperatres in the 50's. Click here for directions.

Sunday's make-up game with Illinois Wesleyan will be made up Tuesday, April 14 at 3:00 pm at The Zimm.

A JV game has been added for tomorrow. The game will be played at Benedictine University beginning at 3:30 pm. It will be a single, 9-inning contest.

A new segment will be coming to The Cave featuring a drill or tip of the day or week or whenever we can post a video. The videos will also be posted on The Cave's YouTube site.

One other addition to the Cardinal Multimedia network is a link on Twitter. Honestly, I don't see the appeal of Twitter but this is more of a recruiting tool than anything else. But for more instant updates, go to

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Split with IWU

The Cardinals were able to take Game 1 of a two game set thanks to the pitching of Mr. Reliable, Mike Kloss, and a surge of Cardinal offense late in the game to seal the deal. Once again Mike's consistency sparked our team and he pitched his butt off for us down in Bloomington. This was a big win for us seeing as how we haven't been able to pull of a "W" in over 4 seasons against the Titans of Illinois Wesleyan.

Game 2 was a bit of a different story and we dug ourselves a bit of a whole right off the bat. I think the thing we as a team (as well as individually) need to work on is to not be content with taking the front end of a double header and become more consistent for the entire day. I myself feel that this is something that I can work on. Becoming more consistent on the field is something I have admittedly struggled with for the first third of the season. Good thing for me is that part of the season is done and over with and if you live in the past in this game it will eat you up mentally.

For our ballclub we can only go up from here and taking a series from Wesleyan (along with taking a series from Elmhurst/taking a game from Wheaton) would be a great starting point. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and hope that we don't get too much snow tomorrow.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Getting Back into the Classroom

Week 1 of the Spring term is in the books. I figure that I'll resume my normal routine of just writing on Fridays since the schedule is a little busier. This was a bit of a hectic week. Poor weather forced us to reschedule games starting at the beginning of this week and almost all of us missed the first couple of our classes. For the most part we are lucky at North Central to have very understanding professors and they appreciate the communication between athletes whenever there are conflicts. On a personal basis I am very fortunate to learn from great History professors such as Dr. Ann Keating and Dr. Will Barnett who are both knowledgeable, fair, and kind people. I am able to share a common interest with Dr. Keating since we are both avid Cubs fans and if future Cardinal players ever have the opportunity to take one of her classes I highly recommend it.

Now to the baseball diamond. We unfortunately dropped a couple of games to Augustana and Wheaton this past week. But in the CCIW the challenges keep coming and we have Illinois Wesleyan this weekend. If we can do the things that we are capable then we will come out on top and that would be huge since we haven't beaten IWU in half a decade. This is a great opportunity to turn things around this weekend! I hope everyone is enjoying yet another "Fantastic Friday." Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gordie Gillespie Great Steal


I was recently searching on ebay and I came across this item and I think it is a great collectors item for any person who loves the college baseball game. It is a signed bobblehead doll from the one and only Gordie Gillespie, the all time winningest college baseball coach in the history of the game. This is worth looking in to

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Hole Nine Innings

Yesterday was a tough game because we had so many chances in each game but didn't capitalize on them. Baseball is a cruel game where you can be focused for 99 percent of the game, but if you take one second off, it is in that time where all hell can break loose and you find yourself chasing three, four runs. One of these days we will begin to tighten the screws and play a full nine innings and when that happens...look out!

OTHER NOTES: Today's double-header at Wheaton has been postponed and has been rescheduled for tomorrow...with a twist. The game will now be played at The Zimm at noon with the Cardinals and Thunder splitting time on the scoreboard as home team. It is unclear at this point which game we will be the home squad. This will also change next week's April 8th game against Wheaton. That game will now be played at Alexian Field, home of the Schaumburg Flyers.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

One in the Books

The first conference game is under our belt and unlike other firsts this year, we do not have to use it as a learning experience. Although there were moments where we weren't at our best, it is much easier to work on those things after a win. We held on for win number two on the year but more importantly it's a 1-0 start in the CCIW. We travel to Augustana tomorrow for a double-header in which we will be the home team in one of the games.

In general, the team played great but the pitching staff, who has been under such scrutiny lately, came up big. Mike Kloss battled into the 8th inning and Ricky Foytik and Matt Blaine helped get out of a bases loaded, nobody out situation and only gave up one run. Dusty Gilbreth singled home the eventual game-winner and Kevin Krajewski ("Juice") may have found his calling in the 9th inning by nailing down the save. It's a great start, but the CCIW is a grind and there's a long way to go.

A special thanks to all the North Central and Augustana fans who stuck it out today. I know it was a typical Chicago spring day but it was still miserable conditions to watch a game and your support is appreciated!

One more note...the home uniforms looked awesome with the black sleeves underneath with the black hat and red bill. Whoever helped decide the color scheme this year was spot on!

Full View of Photos

Off to a Great Start

What a day! I finally get to write to you on a positive note after North Central defeated #18 Augustana at the Zimm today by a score of 7-6. This game showed the character of our team and how we battled back down 5-1 early. I was glad to see some of our hometown fans in the stands today as I was able to say hello to the Kloss's, the Robinson's, and Mrs. Heller when I was heading into our home clubhouse. Maybe their extra support helped us to come through against a very good Augustana ballclub.

So about the game.......there is a whole host of people to acknowledge for this win. Starting pitcher Mike Kloss pitched one heck of a game bouncing back from an early 5-1 deficit. He got locked in after that and gave us a chance to win the game. That's all we want out of a starting pitcher and Mike is a prime example of this each and every time he takes the bump. He truly is a gamer.

Ricky Foytik came in to relieve Kloss and got an enormous out with the bases loaded. Ricky is a key to our success because he has been the heart of that bullpen for the past two seasons. Matt Blaine made his season debut relieving Ricky and managed to get out of a big jam with only one run. I was happy to see Blaino back on the mound after the off season arm surgery that he encountered. He has worked himself all the way back and hopefully he will be a big help for us.

In the 8th Robby (Nick Robinson) got on and eventually reached 2nd base. This is where the drama occurred. Catcher Dusty Gilbreth hit a seeing-eye single through the right side, barely getting under the glove of the second basemen. Robby scored and we took a one run lead into the ninth. I was so happy to see Dusty come through for his team in such a big spot. He has been a part of the program for four seasons and has put countless hours into the game. He is one of the nicest human beings that you will ever cross and does everything he is asked to do and then some. Just a great worker and there aren't enough positive things that could be said about the guy.

Kevin Krajewski came on in the top of the 9th and sealed the deal. I had 2 putouts in this inning and it was awfully tough to get a good read on a fly ball with the color of the sky and the blistering cold wind piercing my face. The last out of the game felt like an eternity to come down from the sky off the bat of Augustana hitter Aaron Hopson. I made sure to get both hands on the baseball to secure the W for our team.

After the game I presented Matt Blaine the game ball because he really came on in a tough spot and bailed the team out after Ricky got a big out. There is a saying that I love and thought I'd share it with you: "Victory happens when 10,000 hours of training meet one moment of opportunity." Now I don't know if Blaino spent 10,000 getting his arm back to shape, but he spent a lot of time to get back to where he is. I am very happy for our entire team with this win. It took all the guys to pull this one off. The dugout was very alive and I hope we can keep this rolling against conference opponents. See you next time!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Trip Photo Gallery

To clear up any confusion among fans, tomorrow's home opener with Augustana begins at 12:00 pm not 1:00 pm. The weather forecast is calling for rain but there is a good chance we will be able to play some will just be a little cold.

As promised, the pictures from Atlanta are ready to be viewed. I took a few but I also had help from Joe Turek and Dan Cladis. WARNING: If you are still trying to forget what happened on the trip, do not look below. But if you weren't able to make it to Atlanta, here is some of what you missed.

Full View of Photos

OTHER NOTES: To receive an emailed copy of the Dugout Club Newsletter, send me an email at If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out the latest issue.

The 2009 Media Guide has been published and is available to view on the web. But you can click here for a direct link.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Broadcast Ourself

It was a disappointing trip to say the least but hopefully we come out of it a better team. On the bright side, we are still undefeated in the central time zone. But the new season starts on Saturday with our conference and home opener against Augustana. Obviously Augustana is a tough team but that is why we scheduled tough non-conference games against Franklin, Emory and Oglethorpe so that we are prepared for CCIW play.

A photo gallery should be ready to be posted sometime tomorrow once I have a chance to edit the pics. A new feature to the blog is The Coach's Cave YouTube channel which made its debut today. The channel will feature any game footage, postgame interviews and anything else related to North Central baseball. Joe Turek provided footage of our batting practice rounds Monday and Tuesday becasue of a pulled hamstring that caused him to miss the Oglethorpe series (he should be back in action this weekend).

The "vacation" is over and it's time to get back to the grind. The team will have a workout tomorrow morning to get preped for the start of the CCIW schedule.

Home Sweet Home

Today's game vs. Toccoa Falls was canceled due to rain. So after packing up and departing from our hotel at 7:30am we arrived back on campus at about 10:45pm or so. It was a long day of thinking about the trip and some of the things that we can work on as a team to become better.

Tomorrow we have the luxury of recharging our batteries a bit before a scheduled practice on Friday to prepare for the most important part of the season which is conference. Although we will not meet as a team tomorrow, there will be guys taking swings or getting pitching work in to fine tune their mechanics before our series vs. Augustana.

The guys are excited to be back in Illinois to compete against some of the best competition Division III baseball has to offer. I think that we will be up for the challenge in the upcoming weeks to try and make some noise in the CCIW. I hope to see some of you out at the games on Saturday!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Game 2 vs. Oglethorpe University

I am holding up my end of the bargain about giving the readers something to look at after every game and I wish I had better news. I have yet to write to you after a positive outing and I regret to say that today is no different. We received an absolute thumping courtesy of Oglethorpe University. I wish there was a way to sugar code it but a 24-4 loss is tough to justify.

After the game concluded there was an unpleasant atmosphere amongst the team and that's expected. Luckily for us it is still very early in the season. Coach brought up a great point about Webster University last season. They began their 2008 campaign 0-7 and were 2 outs away from reaching the Division III World Series. This gives us a little something called HOPE. I'm going to cite Jim Tressel again and a chapter in his book entitled HOPE. He has a meaningful quote by Jean Kerr that states, "Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn't permanent." Trust me when I say that this season is long from finished and there isn't a chance in the world that we are going to throw in the towel. Nobody is going to be able to convince me otherwise. We may be feeling awful right now but this feeling certainly isn't permanent.

On a positive note.....Junior pitcher Mike Charles did something no other Cardinal pitcher could do tonight.... pitch an inning in which Oglethorpe did not score. So congrats to "Chuck." Also, Peter Romanello (Romo as we call him) and Eric Vogrin (Vogs) had a couple of great pinch hits late in the game so good for those two guys.

I won't be able to write after the ball game tomorrow since we will be departing for home directly from the ballpark. I have to admit that after we WIN tomorrow, I can't wait to get back to Naperville. The saying "There's no place like home" really holds true for me and spending time with my Mom and Dad, along with my 5 brothers, is something that I don't take for granted. I have also been hearing from a few of the guys that the parents are really enjoying the blog that Coach Bunnell has so graciously set up. We truly appreciate your support and I hope you keep tuning in. I look forward to seeing you all at the games when we get home.

27 Outs

Spring Trip: Day 5
Out number 27. It is the hardest out to get in baseball. There were a lot of tough outs during our 9-8 extra inning loss to Oglethorpe but none were tougher than that final out.

11:27 am - With a 7 o'clock start time tonight, we had the opportunity to sleep in so our day started a little later than usual. We gave the players their meal money the night before so they were on their own today. The coaching staff wanted to get out of the hotel so we took a cab into downtown Atlanta to get a feel for the city. After a quick stop outside of Turner Field, we headed into the downtown area to check out some of the sites.

After passing the State Capitol Building, we ended up at the CNN Center. We didn't take a full tour but we checked out some of the gift shops. Maybe if Robin Meade was giving her tour we would have stayed but we wanted to check out Georgia Tech's campus and get back to the hotel to get ready for tonight's game.

1:44 pm - We took a pit stop at the Georgia Tech student union and then made our way to the GT baseball field (check the blog later this week for a photo gallery of the week for pics of all the baseball facilities this week). It was a pretty nice set up, the campus itself was very clean, and their stadium reflected that. The field itself was immaculate. There were two grounds crew members cutting both the infield and outfield when we walked up to the dugout.

3:05 pm - We get back to the hotel with about an hour to spare before we depart for Oglethorpe. I was able to relax for a few minutes before getting tonight's charts ready.

4:45 pm - The bus pulled into Oglethorpe and the baseball field was right near the entrance. There was a medieval feel to the campus. I was told by some locals that the baseball field was supposed to be a fully enclosed coliseum but they never finished it when they no longer had a football team so the seating runs from home plate to the right field fence. There was a large dorm or academic building beyond right field that resembled a castle you would see at St. Andrews. The seating was set back from the field and after the nostalgia wore off, I realized that Emory offered a much better atmosphere.

5:00 pm - We were scheduled to take BP at 5 o'clock but the Oglethorpe coach changed his mind at the last minute so we didn't hit until 5:40. This wasn't a huge deal but we now had to kill 40 minutes. The players kept themselves occupied by playing flips in the bullpen and out near right field. I was talking with Bogan and Spehn about TV shows from the 80's.

7:03 pm - Matt Burke led off the game with a double to right-center and eventually scored the first of three runs that inning. Jeremiah Torres allowed one in the bottom of the first but pitched a solid five plus innings and Tyler Herman threw very well. Exactly what we were looking for out of the bullpen. We added on in the second and third to take an 8-1 lead but only managed two base runners from innings 4-9. Herman got an out in the 9th but after a bunt hit and a bloop single, we went to Dave Williams out of the pen. After falling behind 2-0, Williams had a great sequence to strike out the 3-hole hitter for the second out.

Everyone knows how the rest of the night went so the only thing I'll say is that the only way the late-inning collapses will stop is by stepping up and winning one. We need to find a killer instinct to sense when the opponent has phoned it in and given up where we can put them away. After falling behind 8-1, Oglethorpe was done. Their body language was terrible but we didn't sense that and we didn't put them away. This is something over time we will have to recognize and take advantage of if we are going to become the team we know we can be.

3:05 am - The coaches meeting ended and we retired to our respective rooms and tried to get some sleep. It is going to take a concerted effort from everyone on the team (coaches included) to get on track. Posts for days 6 & 7 will be posted along with some video and photos when we return on Thursday. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Heartbreaker: Justin Moriarty

We had Oglethorpe on the ropes and couldn't knock them out. All of our scoring was done in the first 3 innings of the game and we failed to pull away. The Cardinals were up 8-5 in the 9th with 2 outs and 2 runners on for Oglethorpe. Unfortunately for us, Oglethorpe decided to hit a 3 run home run to tie the game up and send it into extra innings. We later succumbed 9-8.

Even though this may be the most heartbreaking loss that I have ever experienced I still saw some good things. Freshman pitcher Tyler Herman really showed some guts late in the game and halted Oglethorpe when he was on the mound. I'm still getting used to the #17 on the back of someone other than former catcher Zach Ernst. I just find it humorous that the only player slimmer than myself on the team took the vacant jersey left by Zach who was as muscular as a baseball player comes.

It cannot possibly get any worse at this point because after a loss like the one we just endured the morale of the guys is at rock bottom. The beauty of this game, as everyone knows, is that the sun will be shining tomorrow. Tomorrow is a Tuesday and people around the world will be going to work or struggling through any number of hardships. We get to wake up and play ball. Isn't that something to think about? No matter how hard we think we have it or how disappointed we were after the final run scored tonight, there are many more people who have it much worse.

At the moment I would be lying to the readers if I said I wasn't still hurting due to this loss because I very much am. I want to help contribute more to my teammates and want to do the maximum possible in every game just like everyone else probably wants to do. But the fact of the matter is that isn't going to happen. Teammates need to pick each other up during the course of a game and a season and we need to do an even better job of this. Same time tomorrow.......see you then.

Spring Trip: Day 4

10:20 am - Day four started out like day three except made an addition to our coaching staff. Ok, he was already on our staff but RJ Spehn caught a red-eye from O'Hare and showed up to the hotel.

11:40 am - My arm was feeling better in time for today's BP round. It wasn't as good as the practice round last Wednesday but we finished in 34 minutes giving us plenty of time to get ready for in-and-out. We changed the BP routine a little today, adding a wiffle ball station. Group 1 started in the cage on the field, Group 2 was hitting wiffle balls in the tunnels, Group 3 was on the field for defense and Group 4 was on the field for base running.

Round 1: Sac Bunt, Drag Bunt, Sac Bunt, Drag, Bunt, Squeeze
Round 2: 4 Hit & Run
Round 3: Bunt & Run, 2 Advance Runner, 2 Drive 'em in, 5 Free Swings
Round 4: 7 Free Swings

1:05 pm - The first pitch was delivered for the second game of the series against Emory. I had a better feeling about today's game than I did yesterday. The players' approaches were much more focused before the game. We fell behind after a leadoff walk in the first but answered with three runs in the 2nd. We added another in the fourth. Emory came back to tie the game at 4 but we regained the lead 5-4. That was the story of the day...we took a lead, they would tie it, we would regain the lead and they would tie it again. Unfortunately, after they tied the game at six in the 8th inning, they added two more insurance runs. The story again was our inability to throw strikes.

After regaining the lead in the 8th, we came out and walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the inning who ultimately scored after another walk, a sac bunt and a 2-run single. It was a dissappointing end to the game because of Micah Yarbrough's gutsy performance on the mound. Despite the crushing blow in the bottom of the 8th, our guys would not go away. We threatened with two base runners but couldn't scrath a run across to fall 8-6.

7:30 pm - After the dissappointing loss, we decided to go out as a team and went to dinner at the ESPN Zone. It was an ok meal but it was good to get out of the hotel. We got back to the hotel and hung out for a few hours before bed check. Tomorrow is a big day to get some momentum to finish the trip.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Trip: Day 3

10:45 am - We load up the bus and take off for Emory for the first of two with the Eagles. The national runner-up in 2007, we know we have to play some good baseball over the next two days.

11:22 am - We arrive at the field. It looks even more beautiful on game day. But once the ball is put in play, it's just another field. Emory is in the middle of their batting practice with about 20 minutes left before we get the field. My arm is hanging a little after throwing BP on Wednesday and Friday so Coach Bogan has the honors today.

12:20 pm - We finished BP and we have about ten minutes before the start of in-and-out. This year's pregame routine is a different feeling for me becuase for the past four years this was my responsibility. But Coach Fitz hits the pregame which is the way it should be so I usually struggle with finding something to do.

12:34 pm - We are in the middile of In-and-Out and I am organizing our charts for the day. We keep a pitching and velocity chart for our pitchers and a quality at-bat chart for our hitters. I also like to keep an oppoenent's pitcher tendency chart. This a chart I picked up from Joe Gilhousen while at Mount Union. The main purpose of this chart is to see if the pitcher falls into any patterns during the game. This is particularly helpful in conference when you know you will face the same pitchers later in the season or the following year. It can also help later on to see how we hit in certain counts and how many fastballs we let go or are we swinging at too many 2-0 curve balls.

1:05 pm - The lineups have been announced and the National Anthem has been played and it's time to play ball. Mike Kloss is on the mound today and thusfar, the only pitcher with a win on the season.

4:14 pm - The game is over and we fell 8-2. We took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to a leadoff double from Matt Burke and an RBI-single from Joe Turek. It could have been a bigger lead but we couldn't move runners over and subsequently drive them in. Outside of a Joe Heller solo shot in the fifth, we didn't do much else on the day. The story of the day, as it has been all year, have been the pitchers inability to throw strikes. When our pitchers fell behind on the first pitch, Emory hit .588; when our pitchers threw a first-pitch strike, they only hit .338. THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY POINTS! That is the difference one pitch can make. There isn't much else to say to a pitcher when a stat like that is staring you in the face.

7:40 pm - It was a quiet dinner between the coaching staff. It was only one game on the trip and there was no sense dwelling on it. We know we are a much better team than we showed and there is a lot of better baseball ahead and that's the beuty of baseball...there is always a game the next day.

Game 2: Justin Moriarty

Game 2 ended in an 8-6 loss for the Cardinals today vs. Emory. We played a good ball game for the most part but it just came down to lack of execution at the end that contributed to our loss. It's very easy for frustration to start building up after a 1-5 start to the season but the guys need to be mentally tough for the remainder of this trip and head into conference on a bit of a roll. Micah Yarbrough pitched an excellent game for us and had Emory hitters off balance for most of the day. Scott Randecker came in relief for Micah and pitched well. It helps that the bullpen can come in and continue the good work of a starter.

The defense was certainly present in game 2 as well. Joe Heller made 2 spectacular plays at second base. Nick Robinson also made a great play bare-handing a fast rolling bunt to throw the runner out at first. Robby (as he is called by his teammates) also had a successful day at the plate. Steve Hlavac added a diving catch in left field to minimize the damage of an Emory rally.

I really enjoy reading books written by big time coaches like John Wooden and Phil Jackson. I recently came across a familiar passage in Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel's, The Winners Manual. In high school when I was struggling as a Sophomore on the Varsity my Mom gave me this saying on a wallet sized card and I have kept it ever since.

A Winner's Creed

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't;
If you'd like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't

If you think you'll lose, you're lost;
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a person's will,
It's all in the state of mind.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster hand;
But sooner or later the person who wins
Is the one who thinks "I can."

This applies not only in the field of athletics, but also in the game of life. It doesn't matter what endeavor you are in, this saying can have an inpact on what you do. I want our guys or any recruit thinking about playing baseball for North Central to read this and seriously analyze what A Winner's Creed is saying. I'm confident we as a team will get this ship moving in the right direction before the conference season starts next week but it needs to be all of us working together and believing in what we are doing.

I'll be writing again after our game tomorrow. It should be up by about 11pm Central time. Until then.....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Game 1: Justin Moriarty

The ball just wasn't falling in our favor today against Emory. We hit balls hard here and hard there but they found the glove of the opponent more than the open green grass. Mike Kloss pitched well through 5 innings of baseball today and our defense was solid as well but the Cardinals just couldn't muster up enough hits to push runs across. With developing teams I have found this to be a theme. Either the offense is on and the pitching and defense is off. Or the pitching and defense is on and the offense is off. We have to find a way to consistently put these facets of the game together for an entire 9 inning ballgame.

One thing I hate doing after a loss (especially if I didn't play well) is having to call my mom and break the news that it wasn't a great day on the ball field. But no matter how poorly I do in a game she always has her words of encouragement. I can go 0-4 with 4 Strikeouts and not have a stain on my jersey and she would say "It's OK, you did you're best." I have 5 brothers, all of whom are involved in athletics and every one of us hates failure on the field. But we all know that once we get home we will have the support from our #1 fan.......MOM.

Just thinking about this makes me forget about today and focus on the next task at hand which is another ballgame vs. Emory tomorrow.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Trip: Days 1 & 2

Finals ended earlier this week and it's time to get back into baseball. For the past four years, spring break has signified the start of the season. But with our trip to Franklin two weeks ago we at least have a few games under our belt. One concern we have with the layoff is what affect it will have on our hitters. We came back from Franklin hitting .394 but haven't seen live pitching in what will be 13 days. We did our best at practice to make sure we saw live cage throwing, but anyone will tell you it's not the same.

Day 1
It was a long week having to finish up a paper and presentation for one of my grad classes, combine that with compiling notes for scouting reports on all three teams we

7:25 am - We start loading the bus in five minutes. I was in the office until about 10:30 the night before getting things ready for the trip but we also have a junior varsity game on Sunday so there were some added items on the to-do list.

8:10 am - The bus is loaded and we're off. We're scheduled to arrive in Atlanta at around 11:00 pm EST. I didn't bring a pillow which was stupid. I've only had about six hours of sleep the past two nights combined so I'm setting myself up for a sore neck later on.

8:45 pm - After a short nap I woke up and we had stopped for dinner. But because of some traffic through Nashville and an accident later on, we were a little behind schedule. But looking out the window we were only miles from the Georgia border so that was promising.

11:48 pm - We rolled into the hotel parking lot a shade before midnight. The entire trip lasted about 15 hours but it was pretty uneventful. It was about as uneventful as you could imagine. Every spring break I've ever had has been spent in Florida until now. It was always a 20-hour trip so the 15 hours with stops seems like nothing.

Day 2
8:40 am - I went to bed hoping to catch up on some sleep. The only thing on the schedule today was a practice at 4:00 so there wasn't a wake-up call today. I was so tired I couldn't sleep so I laid in bed watching TV until around 2:30 am. I was going to meet Coach Bogan for breakfast in the lobby which I did but I didn't eat anything. I ended up falling asleep in the common area in our suite but it was only for 20 minutes. I'm trying the Cosmo Kramer method of sleeping and it's working about as well as it did for him.

2:30 - I woke up from yet another 20-minute nap to the sound of housekeeping banging on my door. But that was a good thing because we were leaving for practice in 15 minutes. This was the only thing on the schedule today so it was the only thing I was looking forward to.

3:33 pm - We arrived on the campus of Emory and it is gorgeous! It could have been because of the temperature was in the upper-60's. But the grass was just mowed and the sun was glistening of the grass. It was what you expect to see in a Hollywood film not on the campus of a D3 college program.

4:45 pm - After the hitters went through a batting practice round in their tunnels we went through about 35 minutes of defense. It was nothing but great hops in the infield and the frat house beyond left field provided the soundtrack for the afternoon while they kicked off their weekend. It was a good practice, short and sweet and most importantly on a baseball field.

11:33 pm - The day is winding down while I am watching Cleveland State gear up for an upset bid against Wake Forest in the NCAA tournament. Everything is set for tomorrow, scouting reports are printed, charts are ready. All we have to do now is get up and play. This is the best time of the year, no school, no work, just baseball. It doesn't get any better than this.

Atlanta Arrival: Justin Moriarty

Well after close to 15 hours of travel the North Central baseball team has arrived at its destination in Atlanta, Georgia. We are thrilled to have finals week in our rear view mirror and look forward to playing baseball in the South for the next week. I will be reporting after every game on this trip (win or lose) to try and give readers a description of what the day was like. I hope that the next few posts are of the positive variety. Until then.........

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Two in a Row

That's two in a row. One more and that's called a winning streak. Okay, we're not talking about wins yet since we haven't played since returning but Franklin. But since our return we've only had a few practices inside...and we just hit in the cages against live pitching. So we've enjoyed the past week outside in the fresh air. But the last two days we've been on the field. OUR field, the baseball field. We've done this while in the midst of finals week which is particularly difficult on players and coaches alike. For the most part, we've had pretty good attendance at practice. The schedules have worked out so our players have finished their exams in time to make it to practice.

One of the benefits of the trimester schedule is that the typical class load is smaller. So when it comes to finals week, a student will usually only have three finals at the most. This definitely makes it easier, or at least reduces some of the stress associated with college final exams.

We have one more workout today before we pack things up and head for the A-T-L on Thursday. We should have some video footage of the trip. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Site Launched

After much anticipation, the College has launched the new athletic site. I can't even begin to say how much better it is than the old one. Much of the information is the same, speaking solely on content, but the graphics and navigation blow the old site out of the water! There are also many new features including live stats, RSS feeds, text updates and much more. It is a nice recruiting tool and it's also a great way to keep family and friends connected to the program with live feeds and a weekly sports report. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the plug for The Coach's Cave as well as a link to the newsletter that we send out. Now all we have to do is find a way to record some more "W's" so people want to check out the site!

Monday, March 9, 2009

White-Knuckle Weekend

It was great to get outside on an actual baseball field. I still feel that way despite losing three of four against Franklin College. Aside from the 1-3 record, it was a tough weekend because that record could have been reversed. We had leads in three of the four games but couldn't keep them off the scoreboard. It was like watching someone play X-Box with all the balls flying out of the yard. But it was the same for both teams. One word can sum up the entire weekend...execution. The fact is, we didn't execute when we needed to. We didn't execute when we had a lead in the last inning of the season opener. We didn't execute at any point we had a lead. We didn't execute when we had chances to extend leads. And we didn't execute when we were trailing and we had opportunities to come back.

There were a lot of positives. We hit .394 as a team, hit 10 HR (we only hit 20 as a team the entire 2008 season) and scored 48 runs. We know we are never out of a ballgame. We erased several deficits during the four games. Now all we have to do is throw it and catch it. It sounds simple enough.

The drive home was an experience. Nothing like what my alma mater went through but it was still a struggle battling the high winds on I-65 through Indiana. The conditions treated the vans like a rag doll. Every wind gust seemed like that was the one that could knock us off the highway. But we're all home safe just before midnight. It is very easy to lose sleep during the year, it's even easier when you switch time zones the same weekend of daylight savings time.

We have a two weeks before our next games which is plenty of time to get right. It's time to get back to work.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Correspondents: Justin Moriarty

It was great getting outside and competing for the first time this season today. Even though we were not victorious we did a number of things well. The offense looked good and hit well in great offensive conditions putting up 15 and 12 runs respectively. However, we as a team did not do enough things to win today and sometimes that happens.

The Cardinals got great contributions from new players and that is something to look forward to in 2009. Freshman Joe Turek and Sophomore shortstop Matt Burke both had great days offensively. But like I said before, the entire lineup hit well. Today has excited me for the potential season this team is capable of having. The goal each day is to take steps forward and try to rack some wins under our belt before heading into the conference season.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Correspondents: Justin Moriarty

You could say that today constitutes as a beautiful day. Not only is the weather great and baseball will be played this weekend, but I also finished my last observed lesson before student teaching next Fall which takes a tremendous load off of my shoulders. The reason I am writing today as opposed to my usual Friday entries is because tomorrow there will simply not be time to blog. I have to teach a lesson tomorrow morning at Waubonsie Valley, followed by class and I need to designate a time to pack for this weekend in Franklin, Indiana.

There are 4 games scheduled for this weekend and it would be extremely nice coming home with 4 victories under our belt. But baseball simply is a game that does not always go your way. All we can control is what we do on the field and how we execute the fundamentals of the game. If we do that, I think that we will bus back to North Central with our heads up high and satisfied with the weekend. If we don't.........well let's just not think that way!

I also want to wish Nick Robinson and Brent Pearson a very happy birthday today and hope they enjoy their day.

Week 9 is coming to a close. As always, finish the workweek out strong and hopefully we can grab some wins this weekend at Franklin.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Great Outdoors

Ah, the great outdoors! It actually feels like baseball season. Although we won't be practicing on Alumni Field at the Zimm, we will have our first outdoor team practice today. It's currently 33 degrees outside but the sun is out and in my head it feels like it's in the 50's. You will actually get to hear the ball pop in someone's glove instead of the echoing off gym walls that make it impossible to hear yourself think.

Field turf is nothing new and many schools (even high schools) have it now. But we are fortunate that we have it at North Central otherwise today's practice would not be possible. We would instead have to try and find a tennis court or completely tear up our field (which Steve our grounds keeper would not appreciate) or find a dry spot in a parking lot far enough away from any cars so our outfielders could take some fly balls , which was my experience in college.

The problem that you face as a coach is trying not to do too much. When you get outside for the first time and your season opens in three days, you tend to want to try to practice everything you've done up to that point. So our goal today is to get as many live reps as possible and call it a day. Wednesday has been our off day during the past five weeks of practice and there are a lot of guys that have class tonight so we have to stay on task.

But the sun is out and we are going outside and that's all that matters.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Jerseys: 2009

As promised, here is a look at the new hats with our jerseys. We have decided to go with black undershirts this year instead of the traditional red. The Cardinals actually sported black underneath their jerseys back in the late 1990's, which is the last time the Cards were crowned champions of the CCIW. Thanks to juniors Dan Cladis, Justin Moriarty and Nick Robinson for their modeling services. They were great sports!

Full View of Photos

The Correspondents: Justin Moriarty

Well another week has come and gone. From my experience, weeks 8,9, and 10 of the Winter term are the most challenging of the school year. Games on the schedule are creeping ever so close and it is difficult not to swing focus to the athletic field. But as the saying goes, we are students before we are athletes. The rigors of academics weigh heavily on students at this time because of the workload and because the weather is nice one day, then makes a turn towards negativetown. Spring break is on the mind of everyone and we look forward for that time away from schoolwork. There is one upside to this time of year and that is 5am's are coming to a close. There is a little rumor that they have ended for the 2009 season (Let's hope so!!).

As for this weekend in St. Louis........ The weather looked somewhat promising at the beginning of the week but has since turned sour. We will be lucky to squeeze in some ballgames down there and if we do we will be playing in less than admirable conditions. The weather calls for chilly weather with a chance of snow on Saturday which is a bit disheartening. We will have to keep our fingers crossed and maybe the baseball gods will allow us to play.

As always finish the workweek out on a high note!

Weekend Update

We will have to wait another week before we open the 2009 campaign. Forecasts for the St. Louis area are calling for snow on Saturday with temperatures only reaching the upper-20's. Cold temperatures are nothing new for baseball players but it's not exactly how you want to spend your first weekend...sitting on a bus, waiting to see if the field will thaw in time with the "maybe we'll play, maybe we won't" mind set. Nonetheless, we will have to wait until March 6-7 to get thing started at Franklin College in Indiana.

Schedule Note:
Because of this weekend's cancellation, we are down three games to start the year. But a fourth game has been added to next weekend's trip to Franklin. Instead of three, nine-inning games (2 on Saturday, 1 on Sunday), we will play a pair of double-headers (Game 1: 7 innings; Game 2: 9 innings) for the weekend. So we will only be down two games for the year which we can make up with a multiple of teams in the area. So there is reason to stay positive.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It Aint Over 'Til It's Over

Though Yogi is correct with this one, it is over as far as 5 am practices are concerned. We finished our last 5 am workout this morning focused mostly on our team defense. It was good to get a few last reps in before the weekend. It was also a light day for our pitchers. There was a list of about eight or nine pitchers who threw an inning apiece...some faced live hitters, some did not. Nonetheless, we put in a good days work and are ready for an offensive-minded practice tomorrow before we depart on Saturday morning. This, of course, is based on the fact the weather will cooperate. The forecast in the St. Louis area is calling for snow on Saturday but Sunday is supposed to be clear and sunny...cold but zero precipitation.

Cave Note: There are pics of the uniforms with the new hats coming hopefully later tonight. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Game Hats: 2009

It's a new season and that means new hats. Not just new in the sense that they haven't been worn before, but these haven't been seen least by North Central fans. The Cardinal head will be the primary logo this season instead of the "NC" as in years past. The home hat will feature a black crown with red eyelets, beanie and a red bill with a small "NC" on the back of the cap. The road hat will be similar in design except the hat will be all black. It is similar to the current uniform scheme of the Baltimore Orioles which debuted in 2002.

Check back tomorrow and see how the hats look with the game jerseys...

Monday, February 23, 2009

5 Days to First Pitch

We are now less than a week away from the season opener. Many of the same feelings that showed themselves the week leading up to the first day of practice are rearing their ugly head this week. Similar to the week before practice started, there is a helpless feeling because you can't do anything to speed up the week. With the scheduled departure date on Friday, it will be a short week of practice and off days are not a good thing when you are waiting for the season to start. You need to stay as busy as possible just to keep your mind occupied. It's like waking up at 5 am on Christmas morning and you are waiting for your parents to wake up so you can open presents. That's what I'm going through right now.

There is always so much to do the week before the season opener. Luckily for us, we took care of a lot of the details earlier in the year. Dugout charts, lineup cards, pitching charts have all been ordered, and not only that, they have arrived. We are still waiting on decals for our new helmets but that is pretty much it. There are always a few items that come up last minute but hopefully there is enough time when they do come up to get them completed.

After today's morning workout, we have only two more full workouts left this week. There is a light hitting workout planned for Friday afternoon but many of our kids have class during the day so they will have to get their swings in another time.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Correspondents: Justin Moriarty

Week 7 of the term is coming to a close. The baseball team has battled through week 4 of morning practices and are getting psyched up for next week in St. Louis. Right at about this time of the year you can't help but get excited for what is possibly to come. Not being successful is something that I personally don't think about. I try and visualize team goals as well as personal goals happening before the start of the season. My dad instilled in me at a young age not to be intimated or fear tasks at hand because if you do you are already defeating yourself within your own mind.

While I have a tremendous amount of respect for other members of the CCIW Conference I have some thoughts about the upcoming season. We work hard day in and day out, getting up at all hours of the morning just to play this game. Gone are the days of not being successful, gone are the days of being a doormat in this league, and gone are the days of being excluded from post-season play. Past seasons are history and this is a new and improved ballclub. Now if I, or any other member of the team don't believe in this then there is just no point in devoting so much time, energy, and hard work. We are hungry to make things happen this year and it all starts one week from tomorrow.

As always, let's finish out this workweek on a high note both academically and athletically. Until next time.......

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Winter Camp Photo Gallery

Our winter camps ended last night and we couldn't have been happier. Nearly 100 kids passed through the doors of the doors of Merner Field House. Joe Heller did a phenomenal job running the camp and our players did an outstanding job working with the kids. The campers will be invited to attend a North Central game this spring. We would like to thank all the campers for attending camp, and most importantly the parents who signed up their kids! Hopefully we will see everyone at camp this summer.

Full View of Photos

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Correspondents: Justin Moriarty

The Cardinal baseball team was fortunate enough to be given an off day on the final 24 hours of the workweek. However, I still found myself tossing and turning once the 5:00am hour came around. It may have been due to the fact that for the past three weeks I have been getting ready for practice at 4:00am or I was just conscious of the fact that I had to rise at 6:00 to get ready to observe high school social studies and did not want to oversleep. Whatever the case may be it was not a pleasant night of sleep for this Cardinal. With that being said I am still having a fantastic Friday. There's nothing like finishing the week out strong academically as well as athletically.

What does this afternoon have in store? I have made plans with Pitcher, Mike Kloss (The best fungo hitter this team has to offer) to hit some pop flies to myself and some other Outfielders out on the turf football field. At this point in the year we have to take advantage of dry conditions as much as possible and start adapting to seeing the ball off the bat. Tomorrow morning marks the end of week 3 and two weeks from now we will be upon the eve of game 1 of the season. I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Poll Position

The preseason CCIW poll was released yesterday where we were picked to finish fifth. These polls are good for one reason and that is to remind everyone that the season is right around the corner. Other than that, they are useless. Our goal coming into the season is to win the conference and get back to a regional. That will not change whether we are picked to finish first or dead last. There is not a poll in the country that make us think otherwise.

Being new to the program and to the conference, the only background info I have on the teams in this conference is what I read in the box scores. Although I am aware of the talent and history of the CCIW teams (three teams in the regional tournament is nothing to sneeze at), I have not seen any of the other seven teams play in person so as far as I'm concerned all eight teams in the conference are even. So this poll is used more to pay respect to those teams who have performed well in years past. But if you are tired of the winter, which most of us are, and want to read something non-steroid related, click here for the full release.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Correspondents: Justin Moriarty

On this beautiful 60 degree February day it is hard not to think about playing ball. Amidst this busy Tuesday the season has been on my mind while trying to have a successful academic day. This morning's 5am practice felt like it was a step up from the sluggish and hectic Monday that started the week. The Outfielders had a successful defensive session to start practice off and unfortunately I was unable to hit live against our best group of pitchers because I had to leave early to teach at Waubonsie Valley High School. From what I have been told our "aces of the staff" looked fairly good today and that is only a good sign due to the fact that the success of a ballclub lies with good pitching and defense.

The days are counting down to the first game and the team is striding towards being prepared.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Spring Has Sprung?

I never thought I would say I was happy to see standing water on a baseball field but because it is a result of snow melting, it is a sight for sore eyes. The field is clear except for a few spots on the outfield grass near the warning track. And after two weeks of indoor practice, I will take anything that looks like a spring day.

Another positive note is the football field is clear of snow as well so we should be able to get outside at some point this week. Our outfielders will be able to get reads off the bat and adjust to the outside air, even though we will be back inside this weekend when temperatures begin to drop back to typical Chicago winters. Hopefully the frost line is beginning to melt on the field but I don't know if how long these "warmer" temperatures will last. Regardless of the weather in Naperville, we are only 19 days away from the season opener against Illinois College

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Two-Week Report

Today marked the end of the first two weeks of practice and my feelings are somewhat reserved right now. We have looked pretty good through most of the drills and our hitters are beginning to regain their timing at the plate but that does not always translate into success on the field. It's a different animal when you step between the lines for the first time.

I don't know the tone of last year's practices but the last few weeks of the season ended on a positive note winning seven of the last eleven. It seems like some of that positivity carried over to the fall and into the start of our spring training. The next challenge for the team will be to fight through the next three weeks and maintain the same intensity and focus. Our pitchers will continue to throw live against our hitters which should add a little incentive for the remaining weeks. The season opens exactly three weeks from today in Sauget, IL.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Matter of Time

I knew it would happen. I woke up this morning at 5:30 without the aid of an alarm clock. Wednesday's are our off days so I turned off the cell phone alarm but after Monday and Tuesday's 5am practices adding on to the three from last week, early wake-up calls are becoming habit. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I always get more accomplished the mornings after practices but it usually only lasts until around lunch. Then it's usually time for a power nap but we spend a lot of time after each practice talking about what we have to do the next day. Throw in classwork for either my Tuesday or Wednesday night class and the window for some solid sack time disappears.

But after this week's practices, it will become a routine. Each of the four weekday practices will be at 5am and Saturday's practice has been moved up to accommodate the men and women's basketball teams. The good thing is that we are actually practicing baseball. The time we get to spend teaching our players is so limited and the season itself is so condensed, it is just a great feeling to hit a fungo. But looking to the light at the end of the's 3 1/2 weeks until the season opener!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Correspondents: Justin Moriarty

This morning the Cardinal baseball team wrapped up week one of Winter practice. The first week is always tricky because other things need to be taken care of to get ready for the season such as getting equipment and lockers but I feel that we still had a relatively successful week. One thing I have noticed over the past few days working alongside my teammates is how we push each other harder during conditioning and drill work and compete against one another throughout practice. This only benefits the team and the individual when teammates are helping each other in a positive manner to get better.

This next segment is meant for Assistant Coach Jared Bogan: There are only 28 days and 19 practices left to improve until our first scheduled game in St. Louis, Missouri. Coach Bogan would be ecstatic knowing about the precise number of days and practices I have mentioned because that's the type of guy he is. Before we all know it, 5am's will be over with and the season will be in full swing and that's when the fun begins. Goals that we aspire to obtain will not come without hard work and we cannot wait to reap the benefits.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Correspondents: Dan Cladis

When discussing with my old coach about waking up at 4 in the morning every day he simply responded to me with the quote "If people were meant to pop out of bed this early, we would all sleep in toasters." This is a great quote however he went on to say that by proving to yourself and your teammates that you can focus and be mentally tough enough to succeed at 5 in the morning and 10 at night you will be able to do so when it becomes crunch time a month and a half down the road when the season starts to roll around.

This is just day one of many to come. Every day we try hard and give it everything we have we become more successful and excellent as an individual and as a team. I was reading a book by Mike Krzyzewski called Beyond Basketball: Coach K's Keywords for Success and in the book he describes this by saying that "You have to run your own race individually while we are running our collective race as a team." This means that from the first guy to the last guy you need to bust your butt day in and day out too succeed as an individual which in return will enhance the success of the team as a whole. Let's get the job done this year baby.

The Correspondents

We have a lot of unique individuals on this team who are involved in a lot of interesting things on campus. This will be the basis for a new feature that will debut (actually, it already has) over the next few weeks and throughout the season. The first post was from junior/outfielder Justin Moriarty. There will be thoughts and inputs from players up and down the roster...stay tuned!

Other Notes
Senior/pitcher Chris Toy is, and has been featured on the North Central website for keeping his own blog. Chris is the definition of involved on campus and will be participating in "The Dating Game" during an upcoming home basketball game. Chris recently returned from Taiwan and has been posting since the start of the school year.

I was recently asked a few questions by Summer Ball which posted the interview on Monday. Most of the questions revolved around the Stark County Terriers but North Central received some pub as well. Read the interview.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Correspondents: Justin Moriarty

The sound of the alarm rang at a very early 4am today. Like all the guys I rolled out of bed rubbing my eyes to wake myself up and wishing I had another 4 hours of sleep. However, the first day of baseball practice always has brought me excitement. This early Monday morning was the start to my Junior year of baseball here at North Central. The 14-23 season a year ago is nothing but a distant memory in my head. The beauty of beginning something new is that we have a clean slate to start from. This year we have a core of players who are a year wiser and push each other to work hard everyday.

The time to be a successful club is NOW and that has never been more prevalent than this year. John Wooden defined success as "Coming from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." I truly believe that if all the guys know they did their best to become the best they are capable of becoming then this season will be a memorable one. I can't wait to lace up the spikes with my teammates and get after it.

Camp Opens

It's been an hour and a half since the first workout of the spring season ended so I've had some time to digest everything. It seems a rare occasion when the practice on the floor runs as smooth as it does in your mind...and today was no exception. We always are very ambitious with what we want to accomplish in each practice but it never seems to work out quite right. God bless you if it does! Maybe you can send some wisdom this way.

Despite the fact everything didn't go exactly according to plan, there was a lot to build from after day one. We have a lot of experienced players returning that are always key, especially when you're a new coach in a program. One thing for sure is that it's great to be talking baseball again!

Special thanks to baseball ops intern David Johnson for taking the pics throughout the practice.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winter Camp, Session III

Last night marked the halfway point of our winter camps. We have seen over 50 kids participate in the first three sessions. We couldn't have asked for a better turnout. Despite the success of the camps thus far, you definitely develop a better appreciation for teachers and their daily routine after working with this many kids at once!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Puppy Love

Friday is finally here. I won’t use any clich├ęs but you all know the feeling. It has been a busy week in the Cardinal baseball office starting with the visitation day on Monday, finishing with the third installment of our winter camp tonight and a whole bunch more in between. With that said, we are all ready to go for Monday! Because of an unusual combination of excitement and sheer boredom, I have come up with a dozen or so practice plans for Monday’s first workout.

During the week, my summer team (Stark County Terriers) received some attention on a summer baseball blog fittingly called Summer Ball (Thanks Hoagie!). I had never heard of this sight until this week but it has some good info on college baseball. Since I started “The Cave” last year, I have found there to be a lot more publicity for college baseball. For a list of my top blogs, check out “The Cave Blog List” below.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Time to Countdown

In about 10 hours, it will be only a week until the start of winter practice. It may as well be four weeks because I get the feeling that this will be the longest week of the year. Classes have been back in session for two weeks now and that has felt like an eternity. There are, however, many things that need to be done before we open camp next Monday.

We will move into the locker room at the end of the week which is a small victory in this painful waiting game. It will be enough to keep me occupied for this final week.

Friday, January 9, 2009

San Diego Convention Photo Gallery

It's about that time where we can start thinking about baseball. Major League Baseball launched the MLB Network on New Year's Day, our players have been working out, practice starts in a little over two weeks, and Coach Bogan and I just returned from the annual coaches convention. This year it was in San Diego. It took a few days, but the city was as advertised. It was absolutely gorgeous!

With the exception of some guest speakers, the convention itself was just like the past few that I've attended. But San Diego is a great city! PetCo Park has launched up my scale of top ballparks. Although we obviously didn't get to see a game, I highly recommend seeing a game here...and you just can't beat palm trees at a baseball field! It's only 17 days until the start of spring training!