Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Missouri State Bears 2 at Dallas Baptist Patriots 7 (NCAA Baseball, MVC) - May 14, 2016


Last year I visited Dallas in late February and had hoped to see Dallas Baptist baseball, but the game was snowed out when the region suffered a freak winter storm. This year, the Patriots were home on the same weekend that the Jays were in Arlington, and they had a Saturday afternoon game that didn't conflict, so I headed over to Horner Ballpark to check it out.



The campus of DBU is located on the western edge of Dallas, next to Mountain Creek Lake. The ballpark is on the northern side, and you should be able to find free parking close by, with plenty of spots in front of the residences. The stadium is named for Joan and Andy Horner, who were lifelong contributors to the school. A statue of an unknown ballplayer stands out front.



Horner Ballpark was opened in 2013 and is still brand new. Tickets were $7 to sit in the sections furthest from home plate, but as the park is not that full, you can move around. There is a roof that covers the last few rows in each section, which is quite useful on a sunny afternoon.



The visiting dugout is along first base, and so home fans sit on the third base side. This means that if you have no rooting interest, you should pretend to be a visiting supporter and grab a seat above first base, where you can get an entire section to yourself.



The campus is quite idyllic, and you have nice views beyond the outfield fence. There is a single concession stand offering your basic stadium fare, but you can also bring your own food in should you prefer.



In the main entrance, there are signs that list every Patriot All-American, as well as major league signees. Current Blue Jay Ryan Goins played here, hitting .371 with 22 homers in his junior year. Would be nice if he could get remotely close to those numbers nowadays.



Overall, Horner Ballpark is definitely worth a visit if you are in the Dallas area. It is a good way to get away from the crowds and traffic in one of the largest metro areas in the nation, and the Patriots have had a lot of success in past years, including their first-ever Missouri Valley Conference regular season title in history this season. At $7, it would be tough to find better baseball value in the Metroplex.

The Game

The visitors were the Missouri State Bears, who I had seen a couple of weeks ago in Springfield. They were struggling at 3-12 in conference play, while the Patriots were 12-3 in this rematch of Super Bowl XX nicknames. DBU is a Christian university, so they had an invocation before the game, during which the announcer prays for both teams and no injuries. I'm pretty sure he prays just a little bit harder for the home team though.

The Bears scored one in the first, but starter Darrick Hall settled down after that, giving up just 3 hits in 6 innings, while his offense scored single runs in the first and second and then a three-spot in the third to break things open. Two more Patriot runs scored on wild pitches in the sixth to pretty much end things, as the Bears added an inconsequential run in the 7th off reliever Landon Wilson that made the final 7-2. A rare quick NCAA ballgame that took 2:45, though I missed the last couple of innings as I had to get back to Arlington for the Jays game that night.

Notes

As mentioned, this is a Christian school, and so when they were advertising Sunday's game over the PA, they used the phrase "Drop by after church", something I have not heard before in any sports-related advertising.

Next Up

The rest of the baseball season will be focused on completing the AAA, AA, and High Class A ballparks. To start, I'll be visiting the Gulf of Mexico in mid-June to see Mississippi, Biloxi, Mobile, and Pensacola of the Southern League. Check back in a few days for the schedule for that trip.

Best,

Sean

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