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BASEBALL BASEBALL BASEBALL.

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As sure as the robins return to herald the spring, the venerable traditions of our vernal roots rekindle themselves anew, and OH HELL THERE WAS BASEBALL LIVE BASEBALL IN THE LEHIGH VALLEY COLLEGE BASEBALL LIVE BASEBALL BASEBALL BASEBALL BASEBALL BASEBALL BASEBALL.

Yes, after two washed-out weekends, at least one local college baseball team finally got to take the field today.

At the start of the day, Lafayette College was one of only 33 Division I baseball programs that hadn’t played a home game yet. Now they’ve played two, and I saw some of both.

It was cold as hell and also amazing. The routine tics and motions and noises and set-pieces of the college baseball diamond are charming as ever.

(The ones that happen off the diamond are welcome too. It was a pleasure as always to watch the players eating sandwiches with their parents between games, or to see two players walking to the bathroom and catch a bit of their conversation: “On that three-and-one count…”)

Lafayette’s opponent today was the Crusaders of the College of the Holy Cross, and their first game was a dandy. At the end of the regulation seven innings, Holy Cross had one hit, Lafayette had three or four, and neither team had a run.

(Lafayette’s starting first baseman was Toby Schwartz, whose heroics last season were immortalized in this space. Schwartz came up twice today with runners on, but couldn’t drive them in. Ah, well. Riding high in April, shot down in May.)

Both starting pitchers shone — Lafayette’s David Bednar struck out 10 hitters, while Holy Cross’s Donny Murray (of Walpole, Mass.) took a line drive to the midsection but kept pitching anyway.

In the top of the eighth, with the bases loaded, a Holy Cross hitter chopped a ball off the plate that rolled maybe 25 feet. Lafayette catcher Parker Hills couldn’t quite make the scoop and tag, and Holy Cross’s Alex Voitik snuck past him from third with the only run of the game.

Maybe one of the better sports action pix I've ever taken, not that that's setting the bar that high.

Maybe one of the better sports action pix I’ve ever taken, not that that’s setting the bar that high.

I hung around for the first inning or so of Game 2, which Holy Cross apparently also won 1-0. For all the pleasure of being back in baseball’s presence, I had had enough of the wind for one day.

I didn’t need to glut myself: It was only the start of the season, and there would be plenty more opportunities.

In addition to Mr. Schwartz, I was pleased to see a couple of memorable Lafayette Leopards back for another year.

Relief pitcher Connor McMahon is a sidearmer, and one of the most pronounced sidearmers I can remember seeing. His entrance music is Men At Work’s “Down Under,” he’s pretty good, and he’s always fun to watch.

McMahon works to the plate.

McMahon works to the plate.

Also back is third baseman Tyler Hudson, the only one of this pajama-panted bunch who wins points for style. With his shaggy hair, horseshoe mustache and stirrups rampant, he looks like he stepped straight off the roster of the ’77 California Angels.

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Not that much more to say, really; so I’ll give this post over to a couple more pictures and bring it to a close BASEBALL BASEBALL BASEBALL BASEBALL BASEBALL.

Lafayette's first-base coach. Did I mention it was cold?

Lafayette’s first-base coach. Did I mention it was cold?

The three-and-one-count conversation.

The three-and-one-count conversation.

McMahon again. The left fielder and umpire look like they're saying to each other, "Damn, that's weird-looking."

McMahon again. The left fielder and umpire look like they’re saying to each other, “Damn, how’s he do that?”

Now THOSE are freakin' stirrups.

Now THOSE are freakin’ stirrups.

Mound conference. Toby Schwartz at far right, hand jammed blithely in pocket.

Mound conference. Toby Schwartz at far right, hand jammed blithely in pocket.

It's a beautiful day for a high leg kick.

It’s a beautiful day for a high leg kick.

Donny Murray, who has just been nailed by a line drive, recovers to pick up the ball and throw the batter out at first.

Donny Murray, who has just been nailed by a line drive, recovers to pick up the ball and throw the batter out at first.

Good game. Here's to many more.

Good game. Here’s to many more.

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