What better way to kick off a season than a Sunday doubleheader? The Glacier Pilots and Bucs (both of Anchorage for you newcomers) had the right idea when they booked this home/away twin billing to start the summer. I have to admit that I wavered a bit about whether or not I should make this game my first of the season, but the devil on my shoulder won and I am glad he did.
Game 1 was unusual for an exhibition doubleheader game in that it was a full nine-inning affair; it would typically be 7. I am not complaining, though. The pre-game ceremonies included a touching moment of remembrance with the families of Dennis Mattingly and Jack Powers. The game was a pitching duel in which Bucs pitchers Jacob Rhame, Nick Piscotty, Scott Grist and Hunter Greenwood scattered 5 hits. None would surrender an earned run, though the Pilots pushed two unearned across against Grist. On the hill for the Pilots, Christian Belleque was relieved by Trevor Bayless and then by Matt Munson; the three split three earned runs a piece. Munson would give up the deciding run with a tie in the 9th after he issued an intentional walk to Brenden Kalfus. This loaded the bases for Ryan Leonards who came through with a walk-off sac fly to give the Bucs a thrilling first win by a score of 2 to 3.
The nightcap, on the other hand, was a slugfest that ended with a second Bucs win, this time in 7 innings with a score of 9 to 6. Every Glacier Pilots and Bucs batter reached base, including Kevin Cornelius whose funk blast plated three of the team’s six runs. But it wasn’t enough to stop the Bucs, whose combined efforts pushed 9 across. Zach Mathieu, Tanner Rust and Chase Compton each had two-RBI performances. I don’t have much of a recap to offer other than the Pilots’ bats were hot but the Bucs’ were hotter.
The marginally-related-to-baseball highlight of the day comes courtesy of Andrew Ferreira who came on to pitch for the Bucs in the 6th inning of game 2. If you didn’t know already, he is one of the stars of the viral YouTube video featuring the Harvard baseball team doing a coordinated dance to the song “Call Me Maybe”. So naturally the sound guy starts playing the song and fans, bat boys, players, and assorted ballpark inhabitants began to do the dance. I am lobbying hard for making this a ritual for fans across the land to adopt whenever this guy comes on to pitch.
For those of you who may be just joining us and don’t know my format, here we are getting to the meat and potatoes of my report, where I share my scouting notes to highlight some of the players individually. I use the term “scouting” loosely since I have no credentials as a real scout, FYI, and I am just sharing my observations. Hopefully over the course of a season some recurring themes will develop for certain players and the little blurbs in these sections can be developed into a comprehensive scouting report, but for now they are just observations. Of course you are welcome to throw your two cents in, whether you agree, disagree, or have something entirely different to say; just leave a comment at the end of the article.
I got a pretty good look at our old friend Tanner Rust. He showed flourishes of what could be power when he banged one off the left field wall for a double in the third. He hit a few out to the track throughout the evening. I think he will show us more than warning track power. He also showed good baserunning by taking second on a pitch in the dirt and immediately stealing third. My only point of criticism with Rust is the accuracy of his arm. He threw away a throw from third to first, and nearly threw away another down to second from catcher. He has adequate arm strength but had trouble connecting.
Kevin Swick most definitely has a “plus” arm. His strong throw from left field saved his team a run in the first game. He also showed the ability to lay down a good bunt, and he was able to scoot to first with plus speed. I’ll make a note to stopwatch his time to first next time I see the Pilots. He ran it in 4.0 seconds on the bunt; if it were a full swing that would definitely be an “8″ time for a right-handed batter but seeing as it was a bunt I take that number with a grain of salt.
Kevin Cornelius flashed some power, sending a homer out to right center, muscling it the other way to a deep part of the park. Brenden Kalfus is another guy who showed power. His solo shot, also to right center, was a no-doubter (he is a switch hitter and this one would have come batting left.) He had another solid line drive to straight away center.
I zeroed in on the pitchers a bit during the second game. Drew Van Orden looked like he was using a two-seam fastball a lot, and could hit 89 when he aired the heater out. He looked like he was struggling to find the plate a bit. 12 strikes on 27 pitches corroborates that, and it wasn’t the up that was off. Andrew Ferriera looked pretty formidable on the mound. His heater hit 90 and he mixed it in with an offspeed pitch that looked like a big, slow curve. He issued three strikeouts on the inning and had little problems getting the calls he wanted.
That’s all I’ve got of any substance anyway. I would like to wrap it up with a note that Zach Mathieu is a giant, that it’s comical to watch anyone stand next to him, and I hope he has a good sense of humor and doesn’t grind my bones to make his bread.
Moving along to the pictures, below you’ll find some thumbnails of my favorites of the bunch. Of course you can see the entire gallery of 194 photos here. I ask that if you reproduce these photos publicly that you credit 49thstatehardball.com. It doesn’t bother me if you’re a parent, friend, or player and you want to post these on your facebook or print them off, or use one as your profile pic. Actually I think that’s kinda cool. But if you have a website, or a print publication, and intend to use one of my photos please just give me that simple credit.