Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy Campers

The 2012 Fall Prospect Camp date has been set. Come out to Braggs Field at Kiwanis Rec Park on Saturday, September 29 from 10am-3pm for a day of instruction and competition. The camp has grown exponentially the past two years with a wealth of talent from Lake County attending so don't miss your chance to improve your game. Three players on the current roster have attended this camp in the past two years. For more information, visit the Lake Erie Storm website or view the camp flyer here.

Date: Saturday, September 29, 2012
Time: 10am-3pm
Grades: 9-12
Cost: $70 Pre-Registration; $80 On-Site Registration
Location: Kiwanis Recreation Park
Address: 99 Mill St., Painesville, OH 44077 (across from football stadium)

Lab Notes:
  • The Storm will hold their first team meeting of the year tonight (8/28)
  • Individual workouts will begin on Thursday (8/30)
  • The first official practice will be held on Saturday, September 8 at 8:30am.
  • Storm Fall League (SFL) games will begin on Sunday, September 9 with a double-header beginning at 8:30am.
Stay updated throughout the fall as well as during all SFL contests right here on The Coach's Cave.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Garrett Emling

Garrett Emling (@GarrettEmling) returns this fall for his junior season looking to have a breakthrough season. The outfield has always been a strength for the Storm the past three seasons with players like Matt Toth (@MattToth9), Brayan Cacique and Brandon James patrolling the wide open spaces of Kiwanis Rec Park, and this year Emling is trying to carry-on the tradition. Garrett earned more and more playing time as the season went on, starting in four of the Storm's last six games, including the postseason. Garrett's most memorable moment of the year came in the opening round of the 2012 GLIAC Playoffs after lacing a pinch-hit single to right, then scoring the game-winning run one batter later. I gave Garrett a chance to catch his breath and caught up with him to see how his summer went.

Where did you play summer ball?
This past summer I played baseball for the Stark County Terriers of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate Baseball League.

Did you do anything exciting off the field this summer?
I didn't do anything too exciting over summer. I went to Chicago for a weekend and saw a Cubs game then went white water rafting in Wisconsin.

Did you keep in touch with or hang out with any teammates?
I kept in touch with some of my teammates. I hung out with a few of them here and there.

What are you looking forward to most during the upcoming season?
I am looking forward to getting back to the tournament and hopefully winning it.

What are some specific drills or parts of your game you focused on this summer?
This summer I worked on going the other way and staying up the middle while hitting. I played a lot of left field so I have a better feeling out there besides just playing center.

What are some personal goals heading into fall ball?
I can't really think of a goal for the fall season. Just to keep getting better and go the other way with the ball.

How did the end of the team's 2012 season change your approach this summer and heading into fall ball?
The end of last season didn't really effect me on the way I went into summer ball. For the fall, we just need to work harder as a team and have good practices.

With Toth and Cacique graduating, do you feel more responsibility to be more of a leader this season?
I don't feel more responsible to be a leader going into this season. I'm not a very vocal person during games so if I am leading, it's more with my performance. Everyone on our team is a leader in a different way.

Heading into your third year in the program, how has your game changed since you first arrived to LEC?
My game has mainly changed at the plate more than anything. I have to go the other way, move the runner over, and get my bunts down. Everything little thing that you could get away with in high school makes a big difference now. My attitude towards the game has changed. You want to win and see your teammates play well and win games. Winning now means a lot more than it has in the past.

Stay tuned for the next installment of How I Spent My Summer Vacation. In the meantime, stay up-to-date on Storm baseball on Twitter and the Lake Erie College official athletic website.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Passing of a Legend

The baseball world was hit with a loss this week. A loss of someone who never played in the major leagues, never had a highlight tape, doesn't hold any records, but had more impact on more baseball games than anyone could ever imagine. Harry Church, a community icon, passed away this week after a lengthy battle with cancer. Church was the groundskeeper for the baseball fields at the Conneaut Local Youth Organization (CLYO).

These fields sat less than a half-mile away from my house and is where my friends and I spent the majority of our childhood, and even then I can remember Harry always being at the fields working. He would be there in the afternoons when "pitcher's poison" and "opposite field out" were common rules and he was certainly there in the evening when the Cardinals and Red Sox battled it out for league supremacy. He made it so every game felt like a trip to Williamsport was at stake. But he also made it feel like he opened the park everyday just for us. 

Even while battling cancer, he knew he didn't have much time left, and outside his family, the upkeep of the park was what he cared about most. In Mark Todd's article in today's edition of The Star Beacon, community members illustrate his dedication to the park.
As recently as this past spring, Church  despite his illness  could be found astride a riding mower, Taylor said. 
"Harry was 150 percent dedicated to the park," he said. "I think that's what kept him going." 
Taylor was Church's neighbor, and the two spoke about the park and Church's fears about its upkeep in the years to come, he said. Church was comforted to hear the park will continue to receive good care, Taylor said. 
That was his biggest concern," he said. 
Church's devotion to the park has earned him accolades over the years. One of the fields bears his name, while the park entrance is known as "Harry Church Drive." In 1989, he was honored as Conneaut's Citizen of the Year.
For the past 50 years you were a staple in our lives, your efforts and service can never fully be quantified, and your impact on the community can never be overstated. You will certainly be missed. May you rest in peace.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Know the Rules

Baseball is a game with rules...a lot of rules. The Official MLB Rule Book is 116 pages while the NCAA 2011-12 Rule Book is 146 pages. Most of the rules, players and fans alike know without knowing they know, or even knowing there's an official rule for what they know. For that, I present to you Rule 8, Section 1a of the 2011-12 NCAA Rule Book (page 90):
Base Running
Legal Order of Bases
SECTION 1. a. The runner must touch each base in legal order (first, second, third and home) and, when obliged to return while the ball is in play, must retouch the base or bases in reverse order.
A.R.—All base runners must touch their advance base.PENALTY—For failure to touch a base advancing or returning: The runner is out if touched by the ball in the hands of a fielder before returning to each untouched base. If the base missed was one to which the runner was forced, the runner is out when tagged or if the ball is held by a fielder on any base the runner failed to touch (including home plate) (see 8-6-a-[4]).
But there are many rules in which most fans, and some players are unaware. For this, we look at another base running rule, the "Force-Play-Slide-Rule (Rule 8, Section 4, page 97)." While I think it is common knowledge by now that the runner must slide directly into the base, they may slide away from the fielder as to avoid contact and not receive an obstruction call.
Force-Play-Slide Rule
SECTION 4. The intent of the force-play-slide rule is to ensure the safety of all players. This is a safety and an interference rule. Whether the defense could have completed the double play has no bearing on the applicability of this rule. This rule pertains to a force-play situation at any base, regardless of the number of outs.
a. On any force play, the runner must slide on the ground before the base and in a direct line between the two bases. It is permissible for the slider’s momentum to carry him through the base in the baseline extended (see diagram).
Exception—A runner need not slide directly into a base as long as the runner slides or runs in a direction away from the fielder to avoid making contact or altering the play of the fielder. Interference shall not be called.
With all the rules that can be referenced by these, and other governing bodies in the game of baseball, there is one set of rules that can make even the most astute player, fan or coach want to change their major...the unwritten rules. It seems like every year there are more and more pages added to the unofficial rule book, and no two people can ever seem to agree totally on which school of thought is correct. Part of that is the fun of baseball, sparking countless hours of debate. The college game, however, is not nearly affected by these "rules" to the extent of professional baseball, for the most part, coaches do a great job of teaching the game to their players, but every once in awhile, players will act out and opposing teams will feel the need to show their displeasure. But when something happens in MLB that stirs some major and sometimes minor controversy, it is important to gain some perspective. For that, there is The Baseball Codes. The book is a good read, but the website touches on current stories in the world of baseball. I have nothing to gain out of this plug except the enhancement of baseball knowledge. So take out your notebook, take some notes, and enjoy.

[Disclaimer: The Coach's Cave does not condone any vigilante justice by any player in the amateur ranks, this is merely for entertainment.]

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Monday, August 20, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Doug Fox

Doug Fox (@dfox508) returns for his senior season in the Storm baseball program as the go-to guy out of the bullpen. Doug had a breakout year in 2011 rebounding from arm issues in 2010, making 16 appearances, posting a 2.55 ERA earning All-GLIAC Honorable Mention honors. Doug proved 2011 wasn't a fluke, again anchoring down the Storm bullpen in 2012. Doug posted a 3-1 record with 6 saves and a 2.79 ERA. In his 38.2 innings, Doug struck out 34 in his 24 appearances to earn All-GLIAC honors for the second-straight season. Despite his success on the field, Doug may be best known for the rallying cry when he takes the mound. I caught up with Dooouuug this week to see how his summer went.

Where did you play summer ball?
This past summer I played baseball for the ABCCL Champion Toms River Hurricanes, located in Toms River, NJ.

Did you do anything exciting off the field this summer?
Off the field, I worked at the infamous Shore Store T-Shirt Shop and met the Jersey Shore cast.

Did you keep in touch with or hang out with any teammates?
I stayed in contact with a lot of the team throughout the summer via social network and texting, and hung out with a few guys when I was home for a few days in the beginning of July.

What are you looking forward to most during the upcoming season?
Getting back on the mound, especially that turf one down in Chillicothe.

What did you learn from last season?
From last season I learned that hard work and dedication does pay off. It was great to be part of a team that was capable of winning the game every time we took the field. I also learned a lot about how much time my arm needs to warm-up and created a warm-up routine that worked well for me.

What are some specific drills or parts of your game you focused on this summer?
I went into this summer really wanting to work on my change-up and overall arm strength. When warming-up for bullpens and game days, I would use my change-up grip almost every toss until I got on the mound to start throwing. I would also throw my change-up from 10 feet behind the bullpen mound to work on the right release point. Extending my throwing in distance and time helped strengthen my arm along with the progression routine which involves a softball, tennis ball, and baseball in various drills.

What are some personal goals heading into fall ball?
A personal goal of mine is to show how my arm strength and stamina has increased from the spring, making me a viable candidate for the starting rotation and how my change-up has became a pitch I can comfortably and consistently throw.

How did the end of the team's 2012 season change your approach this summer and heading into fall ball?
As difficult as the end of our season last spring was to swallow, it gave me a lot of motivation and drive to work even harder over the summer and school year to be better prepared for the 2013 season. Seeing how GVSU ended up winning the GLIAC and we took 3 of 4 games from them in the regular season, is just a sign that we have arrived and I have every intention to see LEC in the playoffs next spring again.

You've primarily come out of the bullpen during your college career, but made a few starts this summer. How was the transition from reliever to starter?
My freshman year I made a few starts and in high school I was a starter so I would say making the transition into the bullpen during my sophomore year was more difficult (than transitioning back to a starter) because I needed to learn how to stay loose and ready to go into the game at any moment. Being a starter this summer I expanded my warmup routine that I used in the bullpen and did more throwing before the start of the game.

Did you have a different mind set in the first inning compared to the ninth?
Being able to "settle in" and seeing batters more than one time in the game was the big difference compared to coming in from the (bull)pen. Being on the mound in the first inning I was able to set the tempo for the game and set up a batter in their first at bat to throw them a certain way in their second at bat.  Throwing in the ninth I was focused on getting three outs and usually did not have much room to work with being a tight scoring game.

Stay tuned for the next installment of How I Spent My Summer Vacation. In the meantime, stay up-to-date on Storm baseball on Twitter and the Lake Erie College official athletic website.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Not Your Average Day at the Beach

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, my hometown of Conneaut, Ohio is a good place to start. Each year on the shores of Lake Erie, thousands gather to watch as re-enactors storm Omaha Beach, reenacting the Allied landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944, which begins today with a variety of events, including displays of war memorabilia, concerts, and a meet and greet with Veterans and re-enactors. The reenactment culminates on Saturday with the historical storming of Omaha Beach. This is a great opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women in the Armed Forces. Take a look at a few action shots from the 2009. God Bless America!

On the Base Paths

Base running is an important facet of the game that goes way beyond just stealing bases. In my latest STACK Media article, I talk a little about some things you should be thinking about on the base paths. Stay tuned to @thecoachscave for more articles, drills, and updates on Storm baseball. RAGE ON!

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: JD Ingalls

JD Ingalls (@JDIngallsis entering his fifth season in the Storm baseball program. JD is in a slightly different situation from his baseball brethren. JD graduated this past spring with his business degree and has already begun taking Master's classes. After redshirting his freshman season, JD returns with a wealth of knowledge of how Storm baseball operates. With 12 players leaving the program due to graduation, the Storm is looking for leadership this season. Fortunately, JD is in his second year as team captain, an honor bestowed upon him at the beginning of last season. JD earned his stripes through a relentless work ethic and his dedication to his team and the game, but most importantly, the manner in which he communicates with both teammates and coaching staff. I caught up with JD this week to see how his summer went.

Where did you play summer ball?
I played for Shannon Fence located out of Eastlake, OH.

Did you do anything exciting off the field this summer?
This summer I started my graduate classes. They were very time consuming but the change in scenery was nice compared to undergrad classes from the past four years.

Did you keep in touch with or hang out with any teammates?
I was able to keep in touch with the local guys, especially with the guys playing in the same league (Tri-State League), and a couple of guys who played on Shannon Fence as well.

What are you looking forward to most during the upcoming season?
I cannot wait to get back on the field and build on what we accomplished last year. Now that we had a taste of the playoffs and some success, I hope all of my teammates share my mindset in being hungrier than ever. The worst feeling is not ever being good, but reaching something good and never getting it again.

What did you learn from last season?
Last year was a learning experience from an individual and team perspective. Individually, coming back from injury I learned the smaller things that needed to be done to take care of your arm and body more properly. The things you do off the field are just as important as on the field. From a team standpoint, I learned that we have the guys and tools to be successful in the GLIAC. It is just a matter of doing our job day in and day out that is what is going to be the determining factor of our success.

What are some specific drills or parts of your game you focused on this summer?
This summer I really worked on two main parts of my game. First was my overall stamina and arm strength. I played a lot of long toss and band work to build my arm strength. I was able to throw up to 100 pitches for the first time since my surgery. I also worked on my off-speed pitches by playing catch with a change-up grip and focusing on specific spots to throw certain pitches during bullpens and flat grounds.

What are some personal goals heading into fall ball?
I want to come into fall ball and make an impact right away. Having not played (during the) fall last year, I feel like this is going to be a great opportunity to show the coaching staff what I have improved on this summer and rightfully earn a spot that will help the team the most.

How did the end of the team's 2012 season change your approach this summer and heading into fall ball?
The end of the season made me more hungry and determined than ever. We now know what it takes and that we can compete with anyone. We just need to put in the work and do our jobs.

You missed a significant amount of time the past two seasons due to arm injuries but appeared in four of the team's final seven games. How important were those innings for you at the end of 2012?
They were extremely important to me. I was chomping at the bit all season to help the team out in any situation possible. Pitching at the end of the season and in the playoffs reassured me that I could make an impact on this team and be a part of the success. Even though it did not end the way anyone would have liked, the last inning has left a bad taste in my mouth that I look to change this year.

How did your arm hold up this summer?
My arm reacted great this summer. It was the most innings I have thrown in a long time and I showed zero signs of fatigue as the season went on. I feel this is one of the best I have been prepared going into fall ball in terms of arm strength and stamina in a long time.

Stay tuned for the next installment of How I Spent My Summer Vacation. In the meantime, stay up-to-date on Storm baseball on Twitter and the Lake Erie College official athletic website.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

From the Archives: Countdown to Fall Ball

The the summer days slowly coming to an end, the Storm baseball team is making preparations for the upcoming school year and Fall Ball will start shortly after the bell rings (there isn't actually a bell in college) on the first classes of the semester. The first fall practice will take place four weeks from tomorrow (September 8) at the KZone and to celebrate this momentous occasion, here's a look back to 2011's countdown to Fall Ball, in the series "20 Days to Fall Ball," where I give a look inside the day-to-day events around the Storm coaching staff.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Clearing the Bases

If you were out sick last week with Olympic fever, here are some stories you may have missed in this week's Lab Notes: Clearing the Bases.

Lab Notes
On Saturday, Doug Fox (@dfox508) and the Toms River Hurricanes clinched the Atlantic Baseball Confederation championship. Dooouug didn't pitch in the title game but was a big reason the Hurricanes were playing in the game in the first place.

Cody Blood (@cblood17) and Tyler Minnich (@tylerminnich) hoisted the Southern Collegiate League trophy with the Ballantyne Smokies. This is the second-straight summer Lake Erie teammates brought home the SCBL trophy.

Last Week's Blog Posts
Fri, Aug 3: Pure Michigan
Wed, Aug 1: Stats Ink
Mon, July 30: Backhanded Compliment

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Pure Michigan

With less than a month until Lake Erie holds its first baseball activity, Lab Notes: Summer Edition is winding down its look inside summer baseball. In one of our last looks of the year, we head into the state up north for an update

Michigan USSSA Baseball
Sean Mathews (@smathews21), Michigan Jets - After playing in nine out of the Storm's last twelve games, Sean continued his development this summer in the Michigan USSSA League. In 97 at-bats, Sean hit .340 with 20 runs driven in while posting a .816 OPS.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

We Talkin' 'Bout Practice?

Classes resume in less than a month and we are exactly four weeks from the first baseball activity of the new season. With fall ball right around the corner, what better time to talk about practice. Yes, "we talkin' 'bout practice." In my latest STACK Media article, I touch on a few tips to help teams get the most out of practice. Keep your eyes open for a special appearance by Zach Mosbarger (@ZachMosbarger10) in the article. Stay tuned to @thecoachscave for more articles, drills, and updates on Storm baseball. RAGE ON!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stats Ink

It turns out there have been some possible discrepancies in some of the statistics posted over the past few blog entries in Lab Notes: Summer Edition. If this reflects your situation, please let me know and the we can accurately reflect your performances this summer. Please make sure these stats are, in fact, accurate. Either email the corrected stats to ebunnell@lec.edu or tweet them to @thecoachscave. Thanks for your help! RAGE ON!