Davenport’s notebook: Taking on the champs

Sophomore pitcher Matt Davenport will be keeping a weekly journal where he will document his thoughts and experiences during the baseball season. Here, in his first entry of the season, Matt recounts the Tribe’s weekend series at LSU.

Friday: Hurry Up and Wait

When the team first heard rumors at the end of last season that we would potentially be playing SEC powerhouse LSU, an instant excitement began to grow about this season, especially after the disappointing end to last year.

When spring practice finally started at the beginning of February, Coach Leoni preached that the most important moment of our season was the present and, even with one of the toughest schedules in the country, we have held true to that motto. We took each practice one at a time, each one better than the last, even with the unreal amount of snow that crippled Plumeri Park for days.

Opening weekend arrived with high expectations throughout the team, even if it wasn’t met with similar expectations throughout the CAA. For those who don’t know, the Tribe is supposed to be young, inexperienced, and, all-and-all, not very good. That is not a popular belief with the team to say the least, and it’s safe to say that we came out strong against UMES with a 24 – 0 annihilation.

Then, it was time for LSU. Plane flights, bus trips, and packing out of the way, it was time to board the bus in game gear to head to the magnificent Alex Box Stadium. Unfortunately, there was the minor problem of rain. After months of waiting and work, the first game of our series against the defending National Champions was turned into a two-hour batting practice and a tour of this palace of college baseball. It only seemed fitting for the potentially biggest series of games in our season or careers to be rained out on the first day.

Tribe @ LSU postponed

Saturday: One of the Great Things about Baseball…
Baseball, unlike any other college or professional sport, has no time limit. We found out in our 11 – 4 win over UMES that a team can come back from a deficit at any time. Down by six late in the later innings, we came back to get the win, a huge accomplishment for a young team early on in the season is. However, there is another side to that equation. We proved we can come back and win, but the next thing for any team to learn is how to hold a lead.

I think it is safe to say that no lead is too large against a defending National Champion. With an 8 – 0 lead in the fifth inning in our first game against LSU, it was time to see if we knew how to hold off a strong team. Unfortunately, LSU came back to take a 10 – 8 lead in a matter of two or three innings, and for the first time all season, we saw the flip side of the coin.

One of the great things about baseball though is that the game isn’t over until the final out is recorded. Any number of things, from umpires to mental mistakes, walks to soft hits that find holes, can change the complexion of a game. No lead is safe and anything can happen. We learned the hard way, in a game we all wanted to win, that you can never let up and never stop attacking because any let down could cost you.

Tribe 9 – LSU 10

Sunday: Let’s See What the Freshman Can Do

Both starters for us in the Sunday doubleheader were freshman. Personally, I know coming into LSU for your fifth and sixth college baseball games ever would be an amazing experience, but to be starting pitchers in those games would be downright unbelievable. Matt Wainman and Brett Goodloe both got that amazing opportunity. For those who haven’t followed us so far this year, Wainman had a few struggles against UMES, an undoubtedly weaker team than LSU, but Wainman is the type of pitcher that a team like that is used to seeing. Plus, making your first collegiate start with family and friends watching and screaming can be tough for anyone. The Wainman the team saw all fall and early spring showed up to pitch against LSU with an awesome outing, proving that he can hang in there with the best.

Brett Goodloe pitched the next game of the double header. In his first start, Goodloe pitched as well as any pitcher could have against UMES, shutting out the Hawks in his six innings of work. LSU proved to be a little tougher of a test, but Goodloe still showed some things that showed his future is going to be bright. I remember at one point after he gave up a home run, Goodloe came back against the next batter to get a quick out. Nothing rattles him. That is something you cannot teach. You guys should look forward to whenever Goodloe pitches.

In the field, freshman Ryan Brown played some of the best center field I have ever seen and had some great leadoff at-bats. Derek Lowe showed off some of his power and what he could add to our young lineup with a homerun, and Jackson Shaver added a couple of RBI’s that helped us jump ahead 8 – 0 in the first game.

Some doubt our team because we are so young, but if anything came out of this weekend; we opened the eyes of our conference and opposing teams. We can play with the best.

Tribe 6 – LSU 9

Tribe 4 – LSU 7


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