After starting the week with an 11-2 victory over Tennessee Tech, we traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas for our conference series with the Razorbacks. We finished on the wrong end of a pitcher’s duel Friday night, as Arkansas scored two runs in the eighth inning to win 2-1. Yet we were able to come back and take the series, winning Saturday 4-1 and 2-1 on Sunday. Saturday’s victory came after eight strong innings on the bump by Grayson Garvin. Garv allowed one run on two hits and two walks, and struck out six batters. On Sunday, starter Taylor Hill combined with four relievers to help us clinch the series. One of the two runs Sunday came courtesy of Aaron Westlake’s fourth home run of the season, and I’m pretty sure if the Arkansas scoreboard hadn’t stopped it someone would have found it in Oklahoma.
Since Arkansas is an eight-hour drive from Nashville, we ride on three sleeper buses rather than flying or taking a charter bus. The sleeper buses are definitely our favorite way to travel for many reasons. For instance, there is no early-morning wakeup call to catch a flight with sleeper buses. When we take sleeper buses, we leave Wednesday night around midnight, rather than the usual Thursday afternoon on a charter bus, so that our sleeping habits are unaffected. For instance, most of us went to sleep around one on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, and when we woke up at nine, we were already in Springdale, Arkansas, stopping at a Cracker Barrel to eat.
On a sleeper bus, there is a front lounge area complete with two couches, a table, big-screen TV, DirecTV, DVD player, microwave, and, of course, food. Then there is a sliding door that separates twelve bunks. In the back of the bus there is a smaller lounge area complete with all the electronics, two couches, and a stereo system with an iPod adapter. So as all of you can imagine, it’s a real pain for us to have to ride on these buses (just kidding). Taylor Hill is known for his eating and sleeping habits, so when DirecTV is thrown into the equation, he basically has to be dragged off of the bus.
Back to Arkansas—I know that LSU and South Carolina have unbelievable stadiums and fans, but Baum Stadium in Fayetteville may be the best. The weather was brutal on Saturday and Sunday—highs in the 30s—but there were still 4,500+ people at the games! When we played at Baum two years ago the weather was much better and there were over 10,000 in attendance each game, but for 4,500+ people to brave that weather is unbelievable.
However, the true Baum atmosphere goes far beyond the attendance numbers. Their fans are definitely not spectators—they are constantly screaming chants or making hand gestures. They are also pretty good at yelling at opposing players. I’m pretty sure that Tony Kemp made lots of new friends while playing left field this weekend. Also, Connor Harrell is still checking his back pocket to make sure it isn’t out thanks to the fan screaming at him Friday night.
Another great perk of playing at Baum is the Candy Man, Rick Cochran. Rick sits in the front row behind the visitor’s dugout, and every few innings, he places Tootsie Rolls and Double Bubble on the dugout for us. And being the sweet Southern gentlemen that we are, we can’t say no to an opportunity like that! We thanked Rick before the game Sunday, and he told us that no team has ever won at Baum if they refused to eat the candy—which we already knew, thanks to the heads up by our SID and Arkansas alum Kyle Parkinson. After doing a little more research, I found that he has a website dedicated to his candy-giving habits and photos: http://ricksphotogallery.com/.
The Baum experience would never be complete without mentioning the RBI Girls and Diamond Dolls. They really help us out getting the bats and foul balls and stuff…
We head on the road again to Auburn this weekend. Arkansas may have the best baseball atmosphere, but Auburn may be the best college town in the SEC. I guess we’ll need to go pay homage to the trees on Toomer’s Corner while we’re there.
Until next week—Go ’Dores