Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Road Trip: Delaware Cows vs. Southern Ohio Copperheads

In my best NFL Films voice, “the green walls of Littick Field proved the backdrop for the epic battle between nine Copperheads and nine Cows.”

Last night got out to my first Delaware Cows game of the season as the squad swept the Southern Ohio Copperheads in Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League action. The Great Lakes League is an NCAA approved wood bat league focusing on players with college eligibility. For more information, read my interview with Commissioner Dr. Kim Lance from earlier this spring.

The Game: On Tuesday night the weather was a little muggy but almost perfect for what fans would expect from a late-July ballgame. But the on field action was pretty hot (and cold) as there were some players that really shined and others that well, didn’t. The Cows (16-14) came-from-behind to win both games over the Copperheads (13-19).

In the opener, the Cows plated three runs in the first to tie the game at three and then four in the third to stake a 7-3 lead and held on for a 7-5 (box) victory. George Biddle (4-1) picked up the win going five innings allowing four run on seven hits, walking one and fanning six. Dan Utts recorded his second save of the season working 0-2/3 innings with a strike out. Troy Testerman (2-3) took the loss allowing all seven runs on eight hits and a walk over three innings, Jonathan Nichols followed Testerman tossing a one-hit shutout over the final three innings. Aaron Hauser paced the Cows with a single and double with a walk and two runs, while Jason Zoeller and Daniel Webb added two hits. Ryan Hamilton finished 0-for-1 with two RBI on two sacrafice flies. The Copperheads were led by third baseman Dennis Winn's third homerun of the season, while Mike Folli added two hits and two stolen bases in the contest. (In the nature of full disclosure, I missed the first game because it started at 3 p.m.)


In the nightcap, the Copperheads again drew first-blood and watched as their venom had no effect on the Cows. Southern Ohio plated four in the first inning and watched as a five-run fourth inning lifted the Cows to an 8-5 victory (box). Shortstop Paul Bennett led the Copperheads offense from his leadoff position going 2-for-2 with a walk, run, stolen base (14th on the season) and RBI; but he also committed a costly error and could have easly been charged with a second on a botched double-play attempt. Willie Walker and Josh Miller added a double for the Copperheads attack. The Cows offense was led by Hamilton's 2-for-4 with three RBI while Daniel Webb, Derek Lehrman added two hits. Ryan DeGeeter (2-1) picked up the win going five innings allowing four runs on five hits and two walks while fanning two. Dan Utts worked the final 1-1/3 innings with three strikeouts for his third save - and second of the day - of the season. Jon Oliver started for Southern Ohio and was bounced around in three innings allowing three runs - two earned - on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Richie Frahlick (3-1) took the loss going one inning allowing four hits, three walks, and a strikeout en route to allowing five runs.


The Players: I have to admit that I just got a new 300mm lens for the camera at work, so my “focus” was on playing with the new toy – hence I didn’t keep a great scouting report on the teams, but a couple of guys stood out in the game.

A player that really stood out was Delaware first baseman Aaron Hauser, a 6-1 and 225-pound junior from North Alabama, with the bat and the glove. Hauser made a wonderful play at first base on a bang-bang play, going up and over the Copperhead runner but having the presence of mind to attempt a tag and recorded and out with a tag to the head that sounded like something that happens on the gridiron. He is hitting .301-3-10 with five doubles in 103 at bats. The biggest concern is that he has posted a 3/18 walk to strike out ratio. With UNA this spring, Hauser hit .350-4-50 with 13 doubles and 18 stolen bases in 200 at bats. The ironic thing is that he walked 32 times, was hit by pitch 10 times, and fanned only 14 times. He looks like a guy that should get a shot to play in the low-minors and if some power develops he could become an interesting prospect.

A second player that really stood out was Cows third baseman Ryan Hamilton (.327-1-17, 7 sb). He was solid around the hot-corner making a couple of bang-bang plays (with the help of Hauser) over the course of the game. A native of Houston, Hamilton is a 5-10, 180-pound junior at Louisiana Tech. With Tech he hit .339-8-37 with 11 doubles in 224 at bats. He’s compiled an 8/16 walk to strikeout ratio this spring. He’s athletic and seems to have good instincts. He hits from a wide-open stance that just looks awkward. He looks a bit small to play third in the minors, but he has enough skills around the hot-corner that a move to second wouldn't be out of reach.


Southern Ohio’s hottest pitcher was all-star Richie Frahlick (3-1), of Ball State University, who had not allowed an earned run this season. From the “picked a fine day to see him” file, I watched him allow four hits and walk three en route to allowing five earned runs in a single inning of relief in the nightcap. Even with that Frahlick’s number now stand at 13 hits, 12 walks, 33 strike outs in 21-2/3 innings. He’s posted a 2.01 ERA with a 3-1 record and a save. He’s limiting opponent to a .176 average.

The Facility: Delaware Cows games are played at Ohio Wesleyan University’s Littick Field. The field is very nice and has limited seating right behind home plate and an open area down the foul lines. Take a blanket for the aluminum bleachers behind home plate. The fence around the field is a little high for a traditional lawn-chair but a couple of fans were able to prop lawnchairs up enough to enjoy the game from the first base line. The playing surface was beautiful and the hops looked pretty true on the infield.

If You Go: Ticket prices are $2 per person and you'll get a classic no-frills baeball experience. The stadium is located off Henry Street in Delaware on what is known as the East Side of Ohio Wesleyan's campus. There are currently no ammenities at the stadium, a couple of good restaurants - The Brown Jug (named for the famous horse race at the Delaware County Fair), Buns, and Old Bag of Nails - are located a long-walk from the Stadium in downtown Delaware.
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