A night in the big leagues

Posted on 18 September 2013 by admin

STLCC Archers take in the moment of playing at Busch Stadium

By: SPENCER GLEASON

Editor-in-Chief

PHOTO | JAKE HUNN

It is often that a young athlete dreams of playing their sport on the biggest stage. Playing basketball on an NBA court, football on an NFL field, hockey on NHL ice or baseball on a major league ballpark is a dream come true. For many, where their sports heroes call home is considered sacred ground and a baseball game at Busch Stadium means watching some of the greatest baseball players the world has to offer.

Just moments after the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-2, giving them a three-game sweep over their National League Central Division rival, the STLCC Archers and Lewis and Clark Trailblazers took the field.

Although the Archers came up on the short end of the stick in the 8-7 final, it was the moment of stepping out onto the same mound where Cardinal rookie pitcher Michael Wacha and former Meramec baseball player and now Cardinals’ third baseman David Freese stood before.

“It was awesome,” Archers’ pitcher Blake Wellinghoff said. “Just to be on the same field as some of the greatest players of our generation right now, it was just awesome.”

STLCC pitcher Cody Starr started the game for the home team Archers. The 5 p.m. first pitch began the game of a lifetime.

The scoring began right off the bat for STLCC. In the bottom of the first Archers’ outfielders Drew Kitson and Andrew Martin crossed home plate following Collin Zurweller’s double into right-center field. The Archers followed up with two runs in the bottom of the second and third innings respectively, giving STLCC a 6-0 lead, on six hits, after three innings.

“It’s tough to be consistent and take good at-bats all the way through when you’re hitting 30 guys. To be able to have quality at-bats and produce runs, those are things that we preached about before we came out here,” Archers’ Head Coach Tony Dattoli said after the game. “Let’s take advantage of the opportunity we get. If we get an opportunity to score runs, lets score runs.”

To go along with the 30 names in the lineup, Dattoli had three different defensive groups and threw multiple pitchers every inning, except for the first, ensuring as many players as possible had the opportunity to play on their dream field.

“We had different offensive groups, so we rotated those guys every three innings. All the position players got a chance to play,” Dattoli said. “Unfortunately, there are four pitchers that did not. That’s the first time that’s happened in all the years we’ve done this. It is the first time that everybody didn’t get the chance to play.”

The two teams have played each other at Busch Stadium every year since September 2011. Prior to playing the Trailblazers, STLCC played the now defunct STLCC-Forest Park Highlanders from 2005-10 and Maple Woods Community College once in 2007. Dattoli coached STLCC baseball teams have a 4-6 all-time record at Busch Stadium.

From the batter’s box, Archers’ catcher Daniel Castillo had the view of the St. Louis skyline. With the Gateway Arch in the background, Castillo kept his focus on the task at hand.

“It was really neat,” Castillo said. “The first couple times it was kind of distracting a little bit, looking out at all of that. But then I zoned in.”

Being in the zone of the game was a common feeling among teammates. Once their moment in the game was over, the moment of where they were playing set in.

“Honestly, it didn’t really dawn on me until I was done pitching, that I was at Busch Stadium,” Wellinghoff said. “It never occurred to me. I started taking the moment in after I got done pitching. I started looking around and saw my family and all my teammates. It was awesome.”

For Dattoli, winning the game is the goal, but making sure that his players take in the moment of playing on a major league baseball field, is why they play Busch Stadium.

“It’s a great experience to get an opportunity to get out on the field,” Dattoli said. “Obviously they all have aspirations of playing at this level and just when you get an opportunity to do it, on this stage, it’s worth the experience.”

 

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