MAPLE GROVE, Minn. - Greetings from the Gopher Classic.
The latest off-field experience of the trip was a day at the Mall of America.
Although we all hate to admit it, being surrounded by every store imaginable to man is a pretty neat experience. There is even a Green Bay Packer store that I managed to get a couple of very loud boos at while passing by. I think the highlight of the Mall of America was the amusement park and the cast of the original home plate of Metropolitan Stadium that the mall was built over. A very cool experience for a group of ball players.
Our boys have a great opportunity to showcase their talents to the many college coaches in attendance this weekend. We have spoken to eight different colleges of many different levels about many of our young men. They like the way we play the game and are very complimentary of our program. It is great to see the hard work of our young people gain recognition throughout the Midwest.
We have completed 3 games thus far in pool play of the tournament. We currently have a record of 2-1 in our pool and, with a couple of victories Saturday, have a good opportunity to advance to the quarterfinals.
In game 1 the Mall of America experience must have taken its toll on the boys in blue. Fifty-five minutes of less than stellar baseball against Maple Grove, Minn., led to an 8-0 loss.
It was 0-1 for the good guys.
Game 2 of pool play proved to be quite the battle. We battled not only our opponent, the No. 2 ranked team out of Minnesota, Burnsville, but ourselves and the umpires as well. We managed to show an abundance of toughness and pull off a huge win for our program, outlasting a very, very talented team.
Final score 9-5.
In game 3 we faced off against Thunder Bay, Ontario. They are a very physically imposing team, but a first-inning homerun by Ryan Bollinger, that traveled 400 plus feet to center fieldm set the tone for the game.
Good guys 8-2.
We have played very well thus far in pool play against some very good competition. We are very excited to get started with our playoff run 2009 edition!
As always, it's a great day to be a Vista!
(Andy Lach is a former catcher and current assistant coach of the Minot Vistas American Legion Baseball team. He will periodically write a column for The Minot Daily News during the Vistas' sason, including updates from the Gopher Classic. Lach can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)