25 April 2014

Calling three college baseball games this week on ESPN3!

Jack Kaiser Stadium at St. John's earlier this year.
College baseball is one of my (many) sports passions. It's what got me started in broadcasting as a college freshman in 2002, and after living and dying with the fortunes of the Rice baseball team for four years, the sport at this level is fairly well ingrained as something I care about.

In the Northeast, however, it is nowhere near as big a deal as what I experienced in Texas, nor as what they have in California and the Southeast. Probably because it still feels cold outside, and it's April 25!

But I am psyched to be calling college baseball again tonight, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as I cover the storied St. John's program for ESPN3. Not only will these be my first baseball broadcasts since last year's WAC Tournament, but they will be my first baseball games on a full television production. I've called more baseball games than any other sport (literally hundreds), but I haven't called them for TV until now. To prepare, I've been following college baseball all year and even went to see No. 2-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette play when I was in Dallas last weekend.

Tonight I'll have St. John's against Georgetown in a Big East game. (Click here to watch.) It's pretty clear which team is favored. St. John's is 21-4 in its last 25 games, has the best home record (16-1) in the country, and is expected to at least qualify for the Big East Tournament (four of the seven teams make it). Georgetown, on the other hand, hasn't had a winning season since 1986 and is 1-8 in conference play. But the Hoyas have really improved as a program over the last 15 years and had a 25-18 record at one point last year before faltering down the stretch and finishing sub-.500.

The best part about the game, from my perspective, is that it's a Friday-night series opener. There's something special about Fridays in college baseball, when both teams pit their No. 1 starters against each other and try to set the tone for the series.

You would expect St. John's to have the edge in that department, with the experienced James Lomangino (4-4, 3.99 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) on the mound. I saw him two weeks ago against Butler when he tied a career high with 10 strikeouts, and he was very good. On the other side, Georgetown will start Matt Smith (3-5, 3.90 ERA, 1.49 WHIP), whose numbers are similar, although Lomangino is much more of a strikeout pitcher. So there may not be much of a gap between the starters.

The difference is likely to be in the bullpens, where St. John's is deep and very good and Georgetown is erratic, to say the least. We'll see if that scouting report is accurate or not, but I'm excited to see what happens tonight!

I'll also be calling two mid-week games next week, both of which will likely have a different feel in terms of intensity. St. John's will be looking to get work for its pitching staff against Princeton, playing its final game of the year, and Iona, which is struggling this season. At this point in the year, weekend series are priority No. 1, since St. John's path to the NCAA Tournament pretty much has to go through the Big East Tournament.

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