ROMULUS — Today the sky above the city that is the gateway to the world from these neck of the woods is filled with airplanes heading for the four corners of the world.
Uncle Mel back from his hard vacation trip to the sunny state of Florida and visiting the good folks of the city of Spring Hill but with a detour to the exciting city of Toledo, Ohio and a chance to watch Eastern Michigan University baseball battle for a Mid-American Conference West Division title.
The Eagles made the trip from Ypsilanti to the city were Jeeps are made for the rest of the world. Eastern Michigan University under the blue sky of Northwest Ohio bowed down to the University of Toledo and let the chance for a division crown and a chance for a second seed in the upcoming tournament slip right through their hands like the Ohio sunshine.
In fact nieces and nephews, the Rockets took out the broom and swept away the Eagles, like spring cleaning Uncle Mel’s basement.
Eastern Michigan University baseball coach Jay Alexander did all the right things at Scott Park, he put his best batting line up in the batter box, he placed the ball in the gloves of his staring pitching staff and Alexander relied on his defense to make the routine play and sprinkle a couple of dazzling plays.
The Eagles failed to deliver, there was steady pitching from the starters but the bullpen failed and both the hitters and the defense took the weekend off for a sight-seeing tour of the Lake Erie’s coast line as it wraps around and hugs the skyline of Toledo.
Senior leadership from the field and from the dugout did not existed. Oh yeah they showed the Rockets a little bit of Eagle solitude with the show of solidarity by standing longer on the dirt part of the cutout in front of the dugout after the playing of the national anthem.
Uncle Mel says so what!
Did it help to fire up the emotion?
Did it give the Eagles an edge?
Did it make the batting eye sharp and the bat’s charged with hits?
The answer is no!
When the Eagles needed to play smart baseball like running the bases or throwing the baseball well you know Uncle Mel did not see it and neither did Alexander.
Thursday afternoon, the Eagles had a chance to take control of the game and the series but senior center fielder Brent Ohrman ran through a stop sign rounding third and he became a victim of a perfect relay throw from the outfield.
The problem he was following a runner that did score and his out was the third out of the inning ending and basically killing any momentum that the Eagles might have gained against the Rockets.
Ohrman felt it was necessary to turn around to the umpire behind home plate and argued a third strike call.
Ohrman is the leading batter for the Eagles with a .337 batting average and he is third in the line up so Alexander know how important he is to the offense.
Ohrman was not the only senior to have a bad series in Toledo, third baseman Ben Magsig lack of glove work gave away Thursday game in the 12th inning and produce a defeat that relief pitcher Ben Dartnell did not deserve.
In the top of the inning, the Eagles manufactured the go ahead run but the Rockets came back and took the victory on a bases loaded single but after the Eagles’ defense helped by making three errors in the inning led by Magsig wild throws to first base that missed first baseman’s Lee Longo twice.
The Eagles are going to Avon, Ohio starting May 23, 2012 and they will be a sixth seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament with questions.
Are they going to be able and forget dropping the series against Toledo?
Will they be able to swing the bats like they are capable of doing?
Alexander said many time this season that his team swing the bats pretty good he continues to say it is something that they do well they have a good approach at the plate and are able to get the ball in play.
In the early part of the baseball season the two things that seemed to cause the Eagles trouble was defense and pitching.
Through out the season the pitching made strides to improve despite injuries that have depleted the pitching staff. The defense of the Eagles have made some errors during the season but when they need to make a solid play it usually was made until Toledo.
The starting pitching is a solid group led by Steve Weber who is 7-4 and by Neil Butara, the bullpen especially the backend of the pen the closer-that has been an issue.
Butara is a solid Friday night pitcher, he settled in the position because he has the ingredients to be Alexander’s guy for that opens up weekend series.
He is though and commands a pretty good fastball that has movement and Alexander says he is a competitor on the pitching mound.
The Eagles are relying on Joe Battistelli as the closer and at times during the season he enters the game prepared with good command of his pitches but lately according to Alexander Battistelli is battling with himself in trusting his pitches.
Battistelli has made appearances before in tournament baseball and should be comfortable on the mound. Alexander says he is great competitor and that he is his guy when he needs to go to the pen and get to him.
For the Eagles to play for the championship and get a spot in the NCAA-the Eagles just need to relax and let the game come to them and enjoy playing the game.
They have played in the tournament four straight years so the senior and the juniors on this team have been here before and the pressure of being in the tournament should not be a challenge.
Alexander’s team is not going to surprise any of the other teams in the tournament because they know that the Eagles are a solid baseball team with good and solid players that know how to play the game that can beat them.
The most important thing about the Eagles that the other teams know too, is that Alexander is a good coach and will have this team ready to play and make some noise at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio.
Eastern Michigan University will start the tournament against Central Michigan University Wednesday afternoon May 23,2012 the opening pitch is scheduled to cross the plate at 12:30 p.m.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.