Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sacred Heart Pioneers 8 at LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds 0 (NCAA Baseball, NEC) - March 25, 2016


The college baseball season starts in February but it usually too cold and snowy in the Northeast for teams to schedule home games. Instead they play non-conference foes in Texas, Florida, and other sunnier climes, usually getting shellacked for their efforts. It isn't until March that the New York City schools can finally host a few ballgames and Easter weekend saw the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds welcome Sacred Heart to start their home slate.



The Blackbirds use LIU Field as their home turf; the facility also sees the university's soccer, softball, and lacrosse teams play there. Given the university's location in the middle of Brooklyn, this is about all you could expect as as such, there are no amenities whatsoever. It is free to walk in, but bring your own food and drink.



There are two seating areas that are not connected. The first is off Willoughby Street and puts you above home plate, where you get a rather unique view of the batter. There are three rows of plastic seats here that were nearly filled up on this Good Friday afternoon. A brief rainstorm had passed through the area minutes before and those remaining empty seats were soaked, so I stood for a few innings.



Fortunately, there is another seating area in right field, which you can see in the photo above. Check out the white fencing that represents center field; this place is functional and nothing more.



In order to reach the outfield seats, you have to walk all the way around the campus to DeKalb Avenue, where the only public entrance lies. There is a guard here but he will let you in if you say you are going to the baseball game. Walk through the plaza (above) and turn right when you see the Athletic Center. Don't enter it, instead turn left and you will see a staircase hidden in the corner just beyond the end of the building. This leads to the outfield seats, which are actually the infield seats for the softball field as you can see below. The visiting bullpen is under these seats and you can enjoy the right fielder chatting with his teammates during the game. With the Manhattan Jaspers moving to Hudson Valley this season, LIU Field might be the worst Division I ballpark out there.



This was doubleheader day and as I walked from the infield to the outfield seats in the middle of the first game, I found myself following three LIU players who had gone to pick up lunch from a local deli while wearing full uniforms. They received not a second glance from Brooklynites going about their busy day. You can see the players walking in foul territory with their plastic bags below.



LIU went 5-10 on the road and had lost the opener in this four-game series 5-2 the day before, while Sacred Heart was 6-10. Safe to say that there weren't many MLB scouts at this one. Anyway, after Blackbird starter Brian Drapeau got the first two batters, he yielded a couple of singles up the middle. This brought up Zack Short, whose relatively small frame belies a decent power stroke and he launched one that sailed over the left field fence and onto Ashland Place. That was all that Pioneer starter Jason Foley needed as he threw a 7-inning complete game yielding just 3 hits while striking out 5. His offense added 4 more homers, with one coming on a shattered aluminum bat, to make the final 8-0.



Thankfully, I skipped the second game to see a movie as Sacred Heart won that 11-0 to complete the beatdown.

Notes

The park is flush with Willoughby Street, so much so that visiting players warm up on the sidewalk. Foul balls also occasionally land on the street; passersby need to be attentive as there are no warning signs posted. One group of kids was startled when a foul ball bounced mere feet in front of them, but I fear the university is setting itself up for a lawsuit should a foul ball injure a pedestrian.

The blog talks only about sports, but I do attend other events and was fortunate to get tickets to David Cross, who was performing at the nearby Brooklyn Academy of Music that night. His tour spans the United States over the next couple of months, so if you are interested in incisive social and political comedy, check it out.

Next Up

This year's March Madness was duller than usual, with only a few decent games and all the top seeds making it to the Elite Eight. But I still enjoy college hoops, just the kind that is unhyped, so I'll be going to the CIT semifinal between NJIT and Columbia on Sunday and then the NIT semifinals on Tuesday night. Next weekend I'm heading to Florida for the Jays opener and some college ball. As always, check back regularly for updates.

Update: Columbia won the semifinal easily, beating NJIT 80-65 behind Maodo Lo's 29 points and will be hosting the final on Tuesday, so I'll attend that instead and then the NIT final on Thursday.

Best,

Sean

2 comments:

  1. Terrible commentary. Glad you can crap on a multi-purpose field that remains the only field on a college campus in NYC. Enjoy going to other stadiums and leave LIU alone.

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  2. First, have the guts to leave your name. Second, how can you be so sensitive about this place? Did you design it? I know it is tough for LIU given their location and they have done as much as they could, but that doesn't change the fact that this is nothing more than a functional ballpark with no comfort or amenities. And Fordham's ballpark is on campus too.

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