FORT MYERS, Fla. — There were plenty of Pirates fans today at Hammond Stadium, watching the game against the Twins. They got to see the Pirates notch their first win this spring, 5-2.
Members of the St. Vincent College, Seton Hill and Thiel baseball teams were in the stands. The college teams are playing games through Saturday in Fort Myers and nearby Cape Coral.
St. Vincent sports information assistant Jim Berger sat a half-dozen rows from third base, wearing a Pirates hat and working on his sunburn. “This is awesome. My first spring training game,” Berger said. Berger and his boss, Jeff Zidek, fly back home Saturday. The players and coaches will take a less luxurious road back to Westmoreland County — they’re making a 21-hour (more or less) drive.
The Seton Hill team filled up a section of seats below the press box. They were rowdy the entire game, especially after the Pirates took the lead in the eighth inning.
In the ninth, reliever Josh Sharpless came in to nail down the win. Sharpy is a Beaver County guy, from Freedom High School, so Seton Hill’s players chanted, “Freedom Bulldogs!”
Once Sharpless finishes his warm-up tosses, he usually takes a step off the mound and says a small prayer. As he did that yesterday, he tried not to laugh as the Seton Hill players cranked up their cheering and chanting. “After I walked (Jason) Tyner, I heard them going again,” Sharpless said. “Pretty cool. I’m glad they stuck with it. It says a lot about them.”
Sharpy got the next two outs and the save. The Seton Hill players caught some grief from grumpy Twins fans, but they still were laughing as they left the ballyard.
An excellent way to spend a warm, sun-splashed afternoon — especially since there’s 3 inches of snow waiting for them back home.
On a totally unrelated note, thanks to those of you who have dropped me emails about this blog — especially those who, like me, are horrified by my picture that appears with it.
Yes, I know that mugshot makes me look like the Zodiac killer. No, I can’t do anything about it.