Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Playoff Diaries, Day 1: What. Just. Happened?

8:07 am - I finally woke up after another night of waking up periodically. I have been fighting a head cold since Saturday and haven't slept through the night since. I was starving so I decided to head to the lobby for breakfast. Unlike our last hotel, this one actually had a continental breakfast so the players could get a decent meal to start the day. Our previous meal came last night during the All-Conference Awards picnic. This was definitely a new experience. This is the first time I have heard of a conference doing this sort of thing where they didn't just issue a press release. Which in it's own right is kind of cool, but the players on teams who did not make the playoffs were not in attendance, which I feel devalues the whole thing.

But Lake Erie had a strong showing with seven members selected to the 2012 All-GLIAC Teams. Bryan Cacique and Matt Toth (@MattToth9) earned 1st Team honors, while Adam Beach (@BeachAdam)Brian (@briankilway) and Pat Kilway (@patrickkilway) earned 2nd Team. Cody Blood (@cblood17) and Doug Fox (@dfox508) finished off the list being named to the honorable mention. Congratulations men on a great regular season!

9:19 am - Coach Sank and I got back from breakfast only to be blocked from entering our room. Housekeeping was busy at work making our beds. That's literally all they could do seeing how all we did was check in, watch TV, and go to bed. So we took in the morning breezes of Chillicothe.

11:15 am - We had a long day ahead of us mainly because we didn't play until 5:30 pm. This meant a day full of trying to find outlets for nervous energy. We left as a team to watch a few innings of the game one between Saginaw Valley and Wayne State. We got there in the 5th inning with SVSU leading 1-0. But a couple of 2-run innings along with a clutch bullpen hold in the 8th was enough for WSU to hold off a late rally by Saginaw and pick up a 4-1 win.

12:37 pm - We got back to the hotel after the game for some R&R before it was our turn to head to the park for real. The interesting thing about this tournament is that there isn't a host team so every team is staying in a hotel. The same hotel. Actually, there are three hotels that share a parking lot but all six teams are within 100 feet of each other. This could lead to some interesting confrontations depending on what happens on the field. Or, this could be a good lesson in sportsmanship.

2:09 pm - We had a team lunch in one of the conference rooms. We bought 10 pounds of lunch meat which lasted about 10 seconds. They were sliced extra thick so telling each player they could have three slices may have been a mistake.

3:00 pm - We loaded the bus ready to make the drive to the stadium for the greatest opportunity of this program's young history.

3:15 pm - The bus rolled up to the field with about 20 minutes to spare before we took BP in the cages. Since we weren't hitting on the field (there was a game currently in progress), the pitchers had to find something to do while the position players took their cuts. Fortunately, this is something pitchers are good at (wasting time), so that shouldn't be a problem.

4:05 pm - At about the same we were finishing our allotted 35 minutes of BP, Grand Valley was extending their lead over Ashland en route to a 5-1 win. We watched the rest of that game, waiting our turn to take the field. There was a lot of nervous energy still floating around the team, which is completely normal. They key for us (or any team for that matter) was to stick to our routines.

5:37 pm - The first pitch was a little behind schedule due to the previous game's slow finish. But Brian Kilway delivered the first pitch and we were underway.

7:39 pm - PANDEMONIUM! There is no other way to describe what transpired in the bottom of the 9th. Brian Kilway and Tiffin starter Jordan Liette were locked in a pitcher's duel with the Dragons clinging to a 2-1 lead, down to our last three outs. We had played well at times, creating run-scoring situations, but Tiffin kept making plays when they needed to. We stranded a runner at 3rd after a leadoff triple. We had the bases loaded with one out and couldn't muster more than a run. We kept knocking on the door but no one answered. No one, that was, until the 9th.

After our leadoff hitter that inning grounded out. Pat Kilway would have normally doubled to left, but Tiffin was in a "no doubles" defense and limited him to a single. Zach Mosbarger (@ZachMosbarger10) pinch-ran and Garrett Emling (@GarrettEmling) pinch-hit to set the wheels in motion. Garrett singled through the right side, even though I thought it was going to be a ground out because of the way Tiffin's first baseman, Jordan Chiero, had played defense on us all year. But the ball had enough backspin to navigate its way through the synthetic infield and allowed Mossy to get to third. That brought freshman Aaron Lindgren (@lindgren_87) to the plate. In his first GLIAC playoff game, he had hit a few balls hard, just right at someone. He quickly got down in the count 0-2. I wish I could say he just as quickly worked himself back in the count but there wasn't enough time. The next pitch would determine the outcome of the game when Lindgren launched a missile to centerfield which at the very least would have tied the game with a sacrifice fly. But the ball was misplayed in center, which allowed the tying run to score. Right on the heels of Mosbarger was Emling, who once the ball ricocheted off the centerfielder's glove, dropped his piano at second base and  made his way 270 feet to score the winning run. It was an unbelievable site because of the mob scene at home plate. The team immediately looked for Lindgren who was standing on third base.

The next few minutes are a blur in all reality. I know what just happened. It has been playing over and over in my head but I still can't believe it. I don't think anyone really can at this point. All I know is the program just witnessed its most unbelievable win in its first postseason game. Fortunately for us, Jimmie Shaw's (@JimmieShaw) dad captured the final play on video from his cell phone. Check it out here.

9:42 pm - The team met outside the conference room where we ate lunch earlier in the day to get our directions for tomorrow. We are scheduled to play Wayne State, a team who just last weekend took 3-of-4 from us in the D. But as much as the players are trying to listen to Coach McGee, they can't get past what they were a part of just hours before. There is still a buzz around the hotel. A buzz that started as a subtle aroma when the day started which transformed into a full-blown stench after the game. It will be awhile before most of us get to bed tonight. But thankfully, the alarms can be turned off.

Stay tuned to @thecoachscave for updates throughout the day. For live stats during tomorrow's game with Wayne State, check out the GLIAC Tournament home page. RAGE ON!