The Cal Poly baseball team and alumni team tied at two in the 2014 Cal Poly Baseball Alumni Game on Saturday.
Jefferson P. Nolan
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Baseball almost never ends in a tie.
But on Saturday afternoon, the 2014 Cal Poly Baseball Alumni Game did just that.
The rain started falling in the eighth inning at Baggett Stadium, and just when it looked like the game would be called, former Cal Poly pitcher and current Baltimore Orioles starter Bud Norris took the field to persuade the rest of the players to close out the final inning.
“There’s no tie in baseball,” Norris, who recently signed a $5.3 million contract deal with the Orioles, said. “These guys saw some competition today. I enjoyed it, and I definitely think I got manager of the year, so I’m excited about that.”
Junior Nick Torres knocked in both Cal Poly runs, and former Mustang Brandon Roberts scored both Alumni runs for a nine-inning 2-2 tie.
Norris, recently traded from the Houston Astros, has won 38 games in five Major League seasons. He’s compiled a 4.36 ERA with 700 strikeouts in 740 1/3 innings.
According to Norris, Saturday was the best reunion a Cal Poly graduate could wish for.
“It’s just fun to talk to these guys and get to know them on a personal level,” Norris said. “I wanted to talk to the kids. These guys have a big opportunity playing Division I baseball, and some of them are going to try and further their careers and get into professional baseball.”
Most class reunions are stuffed in hazy auditoriums, where awkward acquaintances reunite and name tags are necessary. But that wasn’t the case at Baggett Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Everyone knew each other, and the name tags became numbers on a jersey.
“It was a great day to come back and see Cal Poly again,” Norris said. “To come back and see all the alumni, the guys that I played with and those who came before me.”
Though the fog sank low and a light rain fell lazily on the field, there was no bringing down the spirits of the alumni during the game.
The players often batted out of order. The older alumni took their turn at the plate.
“It’s nostalgic (coming back to Baggett Stadium), but I truly never really left this place,” said Logan Schafer, a former Cal Poly outfielder and current Milwaukee Brewer. “You leave a little part of you here, and when you come back, you just pick right back up where you left off. It’s such a special place and one of the most beautiful places in the world … even in the rain.”
Schafer, an outfielder for the Brewers, played the majority of the 2013 season on the big league roster. He finished the season hitting .211 and amassed 15 doubles, three triples and four round-trippers.
“It is a dream … it really is,” Schafer said of playing Major League Baseball. “It’s so much fun, and I try to not take a moment for granted.”
During the game on Saturday, the players laughed openly on the field, once again joking and reveling in the stadium they once called home.
Recent Cal Poly graduate Joey Wagman missed his teammates last year while playing for the Pioneer League’s Great Falls Voyagers. On Saturday, the right-handed pitcher was able to experience his first alumni game from the opposite side of the Mustangs’ dugout. After getting selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 2013 draft, Wagman has experienced that professional baseball is a different game altogether.
“In college, you have morning weights, you go to class and then, when you go to practice, it’s just part of your day,” Wagman said. “In pro ball, it is a business.”
Unlike Wagman, most of the athletes on the field are still searching for their chance to make it to the show. The common ground is: They all share a passion for the great national pastime.
But after Saturday, the professionals and the collegiate athletes will once again part paths. Major League pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training on Thursday.
But as for the Mustangs, the focus is now directed to their home opener next Friday againstKansas State, which made the NCAA Super Regionals in 2013.
“It’s great for us as a team to recognize the past and put a face to some of the names who have played here,” head coach Larry Lee said. “But we’re still a long way away from being ready. I think we’re getting closer, but we have question marks.”
First pitch against the Wildcats is set for 6 p.m.