Bison baseball grinding on the road while waiting for weather to improve
FARGO — North Dakota State isn’t alone in its baseball scheduling misery this spring. The poor weather that has hampered a good chunk of the country in the last month has home fields looking empty.
The Bison are one of 12 Division I teams that have yet to play a home game, said NDSU head coach Tod Brown.
And for the Bison, it’s not looking promising anytime soon. Their Newman Outdoor Field still had snow on it Tuesday with forecasted temperatures in the next 10 days not offering much help. Brown thinks NDSU is at a minimum 14 days from playing at Newman.
“We need four or five really, really nice days to even get close,” he said.
The veteran Bison coach is no stranger to spring schedule challenges. NDSU flipped its scheduled home games with Nebraska-Omaha this week to playing at Omaha Thursday and Friday with the Mavericks returning at the end of the month.
That three-game series will be part of 19 straight home games to close the regular season.
“We have to keep grinding through the next couple of weeks,” Brown said. “Then start to get hot and finish the season well. The tough part right now is when you come back, there is more snow than when you left.”
The best medicine for northern teams, moving the entire season back about a month, will not happen in the foreseeable future. It all goes back to the television networks and the College World Series in Omaha in June.
“The TV contract controls when you play your season,” Brown said, before addressing how cold weather hurts attendance nationwide. “Nothing is going to change. But it’s crazy how much revenue is left on the table by the Power Five schools. Just look at the Big Ten (Conference). Look at NDSU. If we were playing South Dakota State in the middle of June, we would get a good crowd.”
The Bison are 11-14 overall and 4-5 in the Summit League after being swept at Oral Roberts in a three-game series. All were tough-fought games, with Brown saying his team had chances to win all three.
The defense has been good. The pitching has been solid. It’s the timely hitting that’s missing.
“But at the end of the day we were a hit or two away from beating those guys but we didn’t do it,” Brown said. “What needs to change is we need to get that big hit at the right time. That’s the tough part to being on the road, it’s difficult to win. The home team has a huge advantage in baseball and for 25 games we haven’t seen that yet.”
After the Omaha series, NDSU is scheduled for three games at SDSU April 13-15. Brown has his doubts those will be played, saying they may have to be played somewhere else. SDSU along with Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Upper Midwest have also not played a home game. The rest who haven’t been at home yet are mostly in the Northeast. Another snowstorm is expected to hit that part of the country this week.
As for NDSU, Brown said his team is keeping in good spirits.
“Just business as usual, leaving on Wednesday nights on a bus and getting in Monday mornings,” he said. “The kids have handled it well. There’s lot of down time to catch up on academics and studies and then when it’s been time to play baseball, the the kids have been really good about it and handling it like pros.”