Ben Grable, Northwestern commitment (Eric Sorenson)


2019 Area Code Games: Day Two Rewind


LONG BEACH, Calif. — Day two of the 2018 Area Code Games is in the books and the Midwest-based White Sox have made a huge statement by improving to 2-0, being the only team to post two wins already.

Some great pitching performances once again dotted the day as we are only six games into the 21-game week of action here at Blair Field. Today saw that scoring runs would be at a premium in this showcase. In today’s three games, there were a total of five runs scored in all. I didn’t see the linescore for the third game but if my estimation is right there was probably only 14 base hits on the entire day. Hell, there were 16 pitchers used in all today.

But before we get to a recap of the day, let’s cover a few more ground rules for the Area Code Games and how things work around here. Just so you know.

1- Seven innings.
All of the games at the ACG are seven innings or have a two-hour limit. In addition, all seven innings are played, so even if the home team leads after the top half of the 7th, the bottom half is still played. Yes, that means that the “walk-off” victory doesn’t happen here. Every game is played to the last out of the 7th.

2- Ties are commonplace.
Ugh. More on this in a bit. But yes, these are exhibitions so the players are there to put their talents on display, not necessarily to play to see which team will win.

3- It’s as quiet as a mausoleum.
In a policy change made last year, there are no general admission tickets for sale here at the Area Code Games. Either you’re a scout, a member of the media or a parent/sibling/friend of one of the players. So it’s weird to go to games and hear just a smattering of applause when a player smacks an RBI or makes a solid defensive play. The only real applause you hear is for a diving catch or the rare time there is a home run, which will inspire a few audible “whoas” from the stands.

4- Yep, 8:00am games.
For a night owl like me, I look at the schedule and see that there are going to be 8am games for the next three days and think, “No freakin’ way.“ The first two days of the ACG they have player evaluations and batting practice beginning at 8am and the games start at 11:30. Wednesday starts the 8am games. I’m 95% sure I won’t make any of those games.

5- Keeping a scorecard is a challenge.
Starting lineups are merely a suggestion here. It’s all pretty lax, so coaches substitute really freely, especially in the last two to three innings. Take today as an example. The Yankees’ Kevin Sim came up to the plate to start the seventh inning. He was summarily hit by a pitch. But the coaches decided to use a pinch runner for him and then bring Sim back to the plate with a new 0-0 count. Players can come and go in and out of the game at any time. I try to keep a scorecard to help my write-ups of the games but often times I just have to say “screw it.”

Now on to the games that were played today at Blair Field. And needless to say, considering there were only five total runs scored this was a day for the pitching and defense. The batters seemed to be using toothpicks out there. The first game saw a scoreless tie. The second game ended in another tie. And the third game saw the only run of the game scored on a wild pitch.

It was ugly baseball today people.

For the third straight game I’d gone to, there was a mid-inning pitching change, which is rare at the ACG. But UCLA-bound Hunter Barnhart only lasted one out into the second inning. He walked off the mound complaining of discomfort in his side.

Brewers – 000 000 0 – 0  1  0
Yankees – 000 000 0 – 0  2  1

Is there such a thing as two pitchers on opposite teams getting a save in the same game?

Because one of the bummers of the Area Code Games is that games absolutely can end in a tie. When they say a game will be seven innings, they mean it. Nothing more. Nothing less. That’s what happened here in the first game of the second day of play from Blair Field.

Without stating the obvious, both teams had great pitching get augmented by great defense to account for this scoreless tie. I mean, you can’t exactly blame futility. It’s not like the 1978 Northwestern-Illinois football game, where both teams were so punchless they ended the 60-minute battle of the Big 10 bottom feeders in a 0-0 tie.

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