- For the most part, there was good defense today by Kennesaw State. The outfielders got good breaks on balls, especially when the game was still close.
- Travis Dean didn’t have the best first inning but he settled in, which is what good pitchers are supposed to do. He went four strong for the win.
- Colton Cross pitched well in 3 innings of relief, battling a few minor control issues. I like his easy delivery and I’d guess that he was throwing some mid 90s heat.
- Justin McCalvin continued his strong summer league player and showed why he was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list.
- Lefty hitters Jacob Bruce and Bo Way both hit homeruns off of lefty relievers.
- Bo Way won the crowd a free appetizer/dessert from Copeland’s, for hitting a homerun in the 5th inning. Word to the wise (or anybody who has read this far), the cards are for dine-in only and expire in one week.
- Kal Simmons debut was successful, for the most part. 2-4 with 3 RBI. He smoked a double to give the Owls their first run of the year. Simmons also played solid defense. He is a promising player.
- Kody Belcher stayed back on the ball, used his hands well and ripped a few hits. He should get plenty of PT this year.
- Chris McGowan had a 2 RBI double and threw a bullet to third from right field for the final out of the 8th.
- Anthony Duran went 2-3 with a double and scored 2 runs.
- Numbers 7-9 in the lineup (Belcher, Duran and Simmons) went 6 for 11.
- KSU batters had more walks than strikeouts (3-2)
- 8 of the 9 starters recorded a hit.
- KSU pitchers walked 8 and only struck out 5.
- Dylan Ivey came in as a defensive replacement and made two errors. One was just a routine play that should have been made, and the other was trying to turn a double play that just wasn’t there. He should have put it in his pocket because the throw might be in Paulding County by now. I can’t fault him too much for trying to make a play.
- Everything went swimmingly, until the 9th inning. James Connell was wild tonight, and I mean 1998 Mark Wohlers wild. Countless pitches went into the right-handed batters box and he plunked two men along the way. It wasn’t fun to watch, especially since he is coming off arm surgery that cut short his 2012 season. Connell appeared to be grabbing his elbow a bit, but he stayed in the game (more on this in our Mike Sansing interview).
- Catlan Kendrick entered the game in relief of Connell. He beaned a man himself and threw a wild-pitch but managed to get the final 2 outs.
Manager Mike Sansing
What does winning the opening game mean to the club?
It’s always great to win that first game. There was a lot of anticipation coming into tonight, a lot of excitement with our players. If you can top it off with a win that’s even better, it was a fun night.
It was fun until the 9th inning
Yeah, it got a little bit interesting in the 9th, but I always say those are the three hardest outs to get in baseball and we’ll improve on that. I’m not going to dwell on it because I think we played pretty well and we’ll get it going in the ninth.
Did James Connell suffer any kind of injury in the ninth?
No, no, none at all. He was basically on a pitch count and that’s why he came out, it wasn’t anything injury. We want him to be able to go later in the weekend and as a closer you can’t let him go too many pitches.
What did you see from starting pitcher Travis Dean today?
I thought Travis did what we asked him to do. He went out, established his fastball early, and gave us the innings we needed. Of course it’s early in the season, we have some depth and we’re going to use that, and it worked out pretty well with him and (Colton) Cross.
Is using Colton Cross in long relief is the plan going forward this season?
You know, we got a couple combinations of things that we’re looking at, and it never really ends up the way you plan it, but we do have a plan of what we’re going to do with those guys.
Talk a little about Cross, because he seems to have a live arm
Colton’s got three pitches, started some games for us last year and he can do a variety of roles. But you’re right, his ball does jump in on you quick.
Co-captain Peyton Hart (2-5 today, 1 RBI)
Talk about today’s game Peyton
We had some guys really step up and add some value. Kal Simmons had a really good day, Bo Way, we had some guys step up that are going to have to the rest of the year, so that was a good sign.
You’re playing third base this year as opposed to shortstop, what’s the biggest adjustment there?
I played there my freshman year as well. It’s really all about reaction over there, trusting yourself, trusting your hands, putting yourself in position to keep the ball in front of you. I like it over there.
What did you work on this past off-season?
I worked on keeping my head on the baseball and trying not to pull off. I’m still working on that obviously as you saw tonight. Getting in the weight room and pushing guys to do the same thing.
Can we expect 11 runs every game?
I hope so, that would be nice, but we’re just going to take it day by day, and try to do whatever we need to do that day. Whether it’s a push bunt to get some runs, or sac bunt some guys over.
Freshman SS Kal Simmons (2-4, double, 3 RBI,1 run)
What did today mean to you Kal?
It was just a coming out experience, you know just coming out here and playing my first collegiate baseball game. I went up there my first at-bat and had a good approach looking the other way and he threw me a fastball outside and I got an RBI on that one.
Were there any nerves today?
Oh yeah, big time. Earlier today before the game started, there were about 30 minutes left and I was sitting in here, just antsy, waiting for it to begin.
What can Owls fans expect from you for the next four years?
I’m going to come out here and play my hardest every time I play. I’m going to hustle, I’m going to do everything I can to help this team win.
What do you think is the strongest part of your game right now and where are you looking to improve the most?
Right now it’s definitely defense. Any ball hit in the infield near me I feel like I can get to and make a play. Hitting is coming along really good. I feel like I can still get better at everything, but the biggest thing I want to improve on is hitting.
You showed a good bit of pop on your double today
Thank you. I was looking away and he threw me a fastball away and I cashed in on it.
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