Last night I made the short trip from West Lafayette to Indy to see the Pawtucket Red Sox take on the Indianapolis Indians. I love going to Victory Field, but I just don’t get there as much as I would like to. It is a beautiful field, and they do a great job of giving you the most for your money. I started my night off by having a seat in the Captain Morgan Cove. This little area in left field is a great hangout. I had been reading about how Sun King was premiering their new beers out here all season on the Indians Twitter feed. So I walked out there to try whatever they had on tap. What happened when I got out there surprised me. They gave me free samples! Yes that is right. I went to a professional baseball game and received some free beer. I tried a Popcorn Pilsner that actually has two pounds of popcorn in each keg. I also tried the Sunlight Cream Ale. I took the Cream Ale to my seat to watch the start of the game.
Last night was a night that the Indians decided to honor the Indiana National Guard. They threw out the first pitch, sang the National Anthem, and rang the victory bell after the game. The team also wore some sweet camo uniforms on the field. The jerseys looked really cool, and each one was auctioned off during the game. As the auction progressed they gave updates on the jerseys on the jumbotron. The bidding started at $40 for a jersey, and by the end of the game I don’t think any of them were under $100. All the money went to the National Guard which was cool. A decent chunk of change was raised last night for these guys.
Early on it looked like the Indians fans were going to go home unhappy. Pawtucket scored three runs in the first, and added one in the third to take a 4-0 lead. In the bottom of the third Matt Hague tied the game at four with a three run home run. He really nailed the pitch, and sent it into the left field lawn seats. Suddenly this was a game again.
Hague also contributed in the fifth inning. He was plunked to start the inning. He was hit square in the at bat following his home run. He is not normally a base stealer, but he took second when PawSox pitcher Jason Rice paid no attention to him at first. He was then moved over to third base. From there he scored on a sacrifice fly by Andy Marte. I say he scored, but he actually barreled his way home. He took out his anger from being hit on Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway.
In the ninth inning I moved to right field to watch the victory bell being rung. This was my first game since they installed it so I wanted to see the post game celebration. Of course things aren’t always that easy. The Indians gave up a run to tie the game. I took a seat on one of the light poles in right after that to watch the rest of the game. The Indians did not give up another run, and that was amazing considering the bases were loaded. A double play ended the inning, and set up the ninth inning heroics.
As the rally was on in the top of the ninth former White Sox pitcher Randy Williams was warming up in the right field bullpen. I met him last summer on this same field when he was a member of the Charlotte Knights. He was very cool, and that made me root for him even more. Former West Michigan Whitecap Gorkys Hernandez led off the bottom of the ninth with a hit by pitch. From my vantage point in right field it looked like he took the pitch off an uncomfortable place. He needed a little time for himself, but soon took his place at first base. Williams then walked the next two batters to load the bases. He loaded the bases by throwing 9 balls and only two strikes. After Williams got the dangerous Alex Presley out he threw a ball in the dirt that scored Hernandez, and ended the game. Williams did not allow a hit in the ninth, but it was his control that did him in. That was the kind of performance that will get you some time on the bench.
Both teams had great outings from their bullpens until that ninth inning. After rough starts by the starting pitchers the bullpens really shut the door. It is a shame that the game comes down to a rough inning by pitchers in the ninth, but that is part of what makes baseball so exciting. I had a great time at the game once again, and would love to make it back again this summer.