Afternoon Baseball

The State College Spikes (Single A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates) played the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at noon today. I was on campus, so I decided to head over to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park to catch some afternoon baseball.

I noticed that the rose bushes near the park had been nailed by Japanese beetles. As a horticulturist I felt compelled to photograph this.

I arrived early, so the stadium was mostly empty. Outside the gates there were many groups of elementary school kids. Each group had custom shirts with a distinctive color. So groups of yellow, orange, green, red, teal, blue, and all sorts of other colors were present. A baseball game is a great field trip.

In the photo below Mount Nittany is visible through the haze. A few members of the grounds crew are making last minute preparations to the field.

My ticket was in section 204, which is a field box on the first base side. I had a front row seat, which was nice for taking pictures. Before the game Curious George escorted someone out to throw out the first pitch of the game. I noticed that the Spikes were giving out Curious George books to the kids in attendance, so I guess this appearance was due to that. I wanted George to throw a pitch, but he seemed happy to just stand there and wave.  

Ike the spike decided to start signing autographs right in front of me. And I mean right in front of me. Suddenly I was overrun by little kids. As if that wasn’t enough, Ike busted out a water gun and shot me in the face. Ike is a punk (I say this in a good natured sort of way, for I don’t believe he was trying to shoot me).

The game finally started. This season has been a rough one for the Spikes, they are in last place. The Scrappers have not fared much better. On this day the Spikes hit the ball better than the Scrappers, yet they fielded poorly. The final score was 7-6, with the Spikes losing by a run. In the bottom of the 9th they had the bases loaded, but failed to score. They still had 15 hits, which is very good. It was the four errors (and the official scorer managed to miss a blatant error . . . so there were actually five) that did in the Spikes.

Here are a few shots from the game: 

Butch Biela at the plate

Andy Vasquez during pre-inning warm-ups


Miguel Mendez watches a play develop

Matthew Payne is ready for action at third

I’ve heard of sausage races, presidential races, and pierogi races at ballparks. However, when three giant eyeballs took the field I was surprised. I was rooting for the green eye. Coming down the home stretch the green eye had a large lead. Suddenly Ike the spike began assaulting the green eye with a water gun, causing it to crash. The brown eye flew past. The green eye finished second. Yet another reason I am not fond of Ike.

I seem to recall hearing that nice eyes finish last


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