unhappy about fence flap
By Sean Ryan
WILSON, N.C. – Even before North
Carolina State edged Virginia Commonwealth, Rams officials weren’t too pleased
with the fence situation at Fleming Stadium.
“If they wanted to change before
the tournament started, that’s fine, that’s their prerogative,” VCU Athletic
Director Dr. Richard Sander said. “But not two games into the tournament. It’s
just not right.”
Tournament officials and coaches
met around midnight Friday night to discuss the issue. Before the tournament
started, a white section of fencing – the Performance Heating and Cooling sign –
just right of center field was replaced with blue and green signs, according to
VCU officials. On Saturday, a black piece of windscreen was draped over the new
signs. That move peeved the Rams, who thought the switch was made because they
were throwing a lefty whose pitches might get lost in the signs.
“We’re not stupid, we know it’s an
advantage,” Sander said.
One reason behind the switch dealt
with safety, according to Sander.
“They talked about a safety
issue,” Sander said. “N.C. State played four games here during the regular
season. They played 30 games here in the summer league, and nobody changes it.
East Carolina played here two years ago in the NCAA Regionals…so there was not a
problem then. Then all of the sudden VCU [has] a left-handed pitcher, there’s a
Elliott Avent, the coach of the
host Wolfpack, mainly deferred to the rules committee.
A rules committee official was not
made available for comment.
Rams coach Paul Keyes had plenty
to say about it.
“I’m very disappointed and
hopefully, there will be some reprimands somewhere along the way,” Keyes said.
State got a big lift from third
baseman Jeremy Dutton, who started his first game since slightly pulling a
hamstring in an ACC Tournament win over North Carolina.
Dutton doubled in the first and
scored on an error at short by VCU’s Paul Swack with two outs. He later doubled
“He kind of signifies what our team stands
for,” Avent said. “A lot of heart, a lot of guts.”
The Wolfpack win over the Rams also featured
one of the more weird plays of the tourney so far.
With men on first and second and two outs, Jeff
Parrish grounded to second, where Adam Hargrave was eaten up by the grounder. He
fired wildly midway between home and first. The Rams’ Danny Lopaze rounded third
but froze as State pitcher Vern Sterry sprinted to the backstop to chase the
“That was a tough read on his part,” Keyes said
of Lopaze, who could have scored to make it 4-1.
Making it tough was Sterry.
“Vern Sterry busted his butt to get that ball,”
VCU catcher Jeff Parrish entered the interview room after the
loss to Western Carolina and asked a quick question.
“What is it, 1 o’clock?” said a visibly drained Parrish, who
caught both Rams games Saturday.
He hit two homers and accounted for all of VCU’s runs in the 4-3 loss to State.
“I think State threw their best guy at us, and
we put a lot of energy into that game, and we lost that tough there in the 10th,”
Parrish said. “Then Western’s kid came back and mixed it up on us again and
threw a great ballgame.”
VCU had won 12 straight and 20 of 21 before
losing to the Wolfpack and the Catamounts.
“To lose 4-3 and 2-0, that tells you we’re still playing well,”
Keyes said. “We just couldn’t get the runs across today.”
Le Moyne was called for three
balks in Friday night’s loss to North Carolina State.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any
worse, the Dolphins were called for four more balks on Saturday in their
season-ending loss. The last resulted in the ejection of Le Moyne coach Steve
Owens, who got into a heated argument with Scot Cline.
“No comment,” Owens said after the game about the balks.
Andy Weimer, who relieved and was called for two of the balks,
said a different umpire might have seen the balks another way.
“I don’t think I did anything different out of the ordinary,”
said Weimer, who balked in a run before his first pitch in the fifth inning. “It
was a big call. I can’t necessarily say it changed the way the game was going to
Quick stat: The Dolphins had seven balks in two games and 11
Dolphins right-fielder Jeff Justice left an impression on many in
He had several fine catches, including one against N.C. State on
Friday where he ran a long way toward the line, caught the ball and crashed into
But his catch to rob WCU’s Denver Edick
Saturday was probably his best. Justice raced toward the line and took a
fully-extended dive to snag the slicing fly ball off the grass blades.
Le Moyne was making its first appearance in the
NCAA postseason since 1989 after winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
tournament. It was a sweet season in that the Dolphins finally got past Marist,
which had represented the league for three straight seasons.
“We’ve been battling them for so many years
now, to finally beat them in the MAAC championship was a great accomplishment
for us,” said Kyle Brown, who homered Saturday. “We were hoping to do the same
here…it didn’t come out the way we wanted it.”
Added Owens: “For us to get here, we had a good collection of
players. Their hard work finally paid off.”
The rain started just after 10
a.m., forcing the grounds crew at Fleming Stadium to put the tarp on nearly an
hour before the start of the Le Moyne-Western Carolina elimination game.
During that hour and a half rain delay, the Dolphins and
Catamounts used the time to have a little fun. Several wannabe pitchers worked
on their breaking pitches and knuckle balls to pass the time.
A group of Dolphins played a make-believe game.
Left fielder Eddie Harper was on the “mound” in
front of the third-base dugout and was getting his signs from right fielder Jeff
Justice behind the “plate,” which umpire Sam Parkins, an infielder, drew in the
dirt. The hitter was lefty pitcher Shane Burke. At one point, Parkins had to
warn Harper for throwing at Burke, prompting Justice to get in his grill in an
The Dolphins took infield just after 12 for a proposed first
pitch around 12:30, while the Catamounts didn’t bother. Right after the national
anthem, a big batch of thunderstorms prompted the grounds crew to take action
While the PA blared “rain-themed” songs, it seemed appropriate
that waves of rain crashed on the field during the beach-classic “Wipeout.”
After a rain delay of 2:34, baseball was played.
The Catamounts have seen rainy days before in their NCAA history.
According to Steve White, who served as Western Carolina’s sports
information director from 1969-98 and still broadcasts the games on radio, the
Catamounts had to deal with a big batch of thunderstorms in 1986 when the first
day of the Miami regional was rained out.
In 1989 in Starkville, Miss., White said the regional went
through 12 rain delays in four days.
And in 1994 at Knoxville, Tenn., Jason Beverlin
was shutting down Arizona State and led 3-0 as the game entered the middle
innings. The rains game, and Beverlin couldn’t come back the next day. ASU won
the game 8-6.