Exciting Finish! CIU Rams win first home baseball game in school history
Exciting finish! First home baseball game in school history is a win
By Bob Holmes and Naomi Balk
It took 10 innings, but the first home baseball game in school history was an exciting 7-6 Rams' victory over the USC Salkehatchie Indians. The Rams trailed 6-5 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Shane Hammonds hit a towering home run over the left field wall to tie the game. After Robert Bell tripled in the bottom of the ninth, pinch hitter Trent Frye hit a sharp grounder down the third base line that was too hot for the third baseman to handle, as Bell crossed the plate.
Not only did Bell score the winning run, he goes down in the record book as hitting the first home run in school history, a two-run shot over the right field wall.
The exciting finish topped off a great day at CIU. It began with opening day ceremonies including the ceremonial first pitch by CIU President Dr. Mark Smith, the National Anthem sung by the CIU Ambassador Choir, countless thank yous to those who made the day possible, and a prayer by CIU Executive Vice President Dr. Rick Christman.
Anticipation filled the air before the first pitch as students, faculty and staff enjoyed fresh air, brilliant blue sky, and temperatures in the low 60s. Festive music played, the smell of hotdogs and popcorn drifted through the air, the first 200 people to the game received a free commemorative T-shirt, and fans munched on free packages of the traditional baseball favorite — Crackerjack.
The enthusiasm of the large crowd at the new baseball field was not lost on CIU Head Coach Jonathan Johnson, a former Major League pitcher who saw a lot of baseball during his days with the Royals, Astros and Padres.
“It was a spectacular atmosphere! Way over my expectations,” Johnson said. “I can’t say enough. There was a lot of energy and I think it helped the guys respond late (in the game).”
After the walk-off run scored, Trent Frye, who provided the game-winning RBI, was mobbed by his teammates. Reflecting in the dugout after the game, Frye said he was just trying “to put the ball in play … just square up the ball and make something happen.”
That’s the kind of talk that makes a coach happy.
“I tell them give yourself a chance to win late, and good things will happen in time, and it happened today,” Johnson said after the game. “Tremendous all-around job by the guys.”