Baseball from a land Down Under

10/08/2009 09:37

Titans compete against an all-star Australian in their first game of the season

Jacquelyn Cayot of The Torch

Issue date: 10/8/09 Section: Sports
 
An LCC batter tees off on an Australian pitch during a Sept. 28 pre-season game. The Titans struggled with offense and lost at a score of 7-4.
Media Credit: JB Botwinick
An LCC batter tees off on an Australian pitch during a Sept. 28 pre-season game. The Titans struggled with offense and lost at a score of 7-4.
[Click to enlarge]
The Titan baseball team kicked off the year with a battle against the Australian Team Monday, Sep. 28 at 12 p.m. The game, held at LCC, had a big fan turnout despite overcast skies and a chilling wind.

After a slow start, the Australian Team brought home two runs in the second inning. The third and fourth innings passed quickly with little offense. While LCC had several big hits they were caught by the Australian outfielders.

With the Australian Team leading the game 3-0, the Titans entered the fifth inning with determination. Stepping up their defense, they threw the first three batters out at first, but were unable to capitalize on offense. Although they managed to get runners positioned on base they weren't able to gain any runs.

In the seventh inning, after a hit to right field, the Australian team scored another run bringing the score to 5-0. Undiscouraged, LCC answered back scoring their first run of the game. They then picked up enthusiasm and energy improving the teams morale helping them rack up a total of three runs that inning.

Showing an impressive scrappiness and teamwork in the eighth inning an energized outfield successfully held off and Australian long ball which was followed by two more quick outs. Again unable to capitalize the Titans held the score at 5-3

By the ninth inning the suspense had reached the bleachers. The Australian team brought in two more runs, bringing the score to 7-3, but LCC was eager to bat. After a pitcher switch-up on the Australian Team, a Titan double sent the ball to the back wall earning applause from both teams. With the bases loaded and zero outs, Titan enthusiasm increased. The dugout became energized. One player walked, bringing home a run, followed by a strike-out. With only one out and bases still loaded, there was potential for a Titan comeback. Tough pitching lead to two consecutive strikeouts, however, ending the game with a defeat for the Titans and a final score of 7-4.

According to LCC Head Baseball Coach Rob Strickland, the Titans should expect to see similar talent to that of the Australian Team for the rest of the season. He even explores the possibility of future opponents playing better defense and being more competitive at bat than Monday's competition.

"Hitting and pitching [are] definitely two areas of our game that we are going to have to focus on," Strickland said.

Titan fans can expect to see a different style of baseball this year compared to the last 3-4 years in Titan history says Strickland. Due to their physically undersized state, the team can't rely on overpowering pitching or deep offensive threats. Instead, they plan on being extremely scrappy this year. The team may be young, but many of the same expectations remain. Making it to the NWAC tournament and being one of the top two teams in the league is important to players and coaches alike.

"We have a young group of guys that are pretty well founded in baseball, so I'm excited to see what they can do and hopefully bring some new life into the baseball program that should be successful for the year," Andrew Schumacher, sophomore right fielder, said.

With a freshman-dominated squad, Strickland has a different approach for the players along with a newly directed focus. He understands that many of the players come from a program with far less expectations than his at LCC. Strickland's goal is to make it apparent to his new group of guys that his program is very intensive.

"If they can't make a commitment both academically and on the field, they are going to be left out eventually," Strickland said.

With high expectations, the pressure is on for the Titan players this year.

"We are really deep this year, we have a lot of guys that play a lot of different positions so I think that will really help us out," sophomore, pitcher, Reed Nicholson said.

Several players agreed that Monday was a great start, helping the team see where they were in regards to preparation level for the season.

Monday's game was recognized by both teams as a unique experience for all of the players. The Titan's opponent was an all-star high school team selected from the best players in Australia. The Australian Team is currently on a tour of the U.S. in an effort to expose its players to colleges such as Lane.

"Many [of our players] are hopeful of gaining placement and scholarship offers," Australian Team head coach, Stuart Hanrahan said.

The team is headed to Portland and will then travel to LA shortly after. Following a trip to Phoenix to play in the Arizona Fall Classic High School Invitational tournament, the team will return to Australia on Oct. 15.