Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Road Trips, Rain and Turf

By: Spenser Smith

Well, Sweets fans, it appears that fall has arrived early in the Walla Walla Valley. Or so it seems, right? Gloomy, gray skies and some rain have suddenly replaced the signature warmth that we have all come to associate with the month of June.

It caused us to (reluctantly) call our first rainout of the season yesterday, prompting a doubleheader set to begin at 4:05 today, with the second game to start thirty minutes after the first game's conclusion.

But the Sweets and I also experienced another first recently--the first road trip of the season. We hopped onto the team bus at 8 AM Saturday and headed to Corvallis. The wind howled and swirled through the Columbia River Gorge all throughout our drive, but the scenery was eye-pleasing as usual. Rolling farmland shifted to steep cliffs and sagebrush as we passed the turn to Hermiston, which in turn gave way to pine trees and a distant snow-capped peak while leaving The Dalles after a quick stop for lunch.

By late afternoon, we reached Goss Stadium in Corvallis, which houses one of the most successful NCAA Division I college baseball programs of the past decade, the Oregon State Beavers. I could feel the history sink in as I gazed across the green, natural-grass outfield, to the point where it met the brown infield turf.

Oh, that's another thing...many of you folks reading this post probably remember watching baseball on turf: the groundball triple, the rug-burn diving catch...they all came to life while players sporting uniforms of powder blue, bright orange, and even bumblebee patterns battled it out in cookie-cutter stadiums built to house every professional sports team in town under one roof.

But Goss Stadium is a different animal entirely. Here, the turf combats the steady rainfall that the region typically receives, and infielders often remark at the clean, predictable hops it offers on groundballs. The wind consistently blows out toward left field, making it a very friendly park for right-handed pull hitters--special shout-out here to Parker Osborne, who hit his first two home runs of the season on this trip!

In the end, the Knights got the best of us in the first two games, but the Sweets hammered out 13 runs in the final game to end the series on a more positive note.

So for those of you worrying that we brought that western Oregon weather back with us on the bus, fear not, friends...sunshine is just around the corner.

Go Sweets!

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