Sunday, April 28, 2013
All photos of Stampfl Field available on Flickr.
After the excitement of Opening Day comes and goes, the rest of April is typically a rough month on the ball-watching front because of all the bad weather. There have already been a historically high number of rainouts (and snow-outs) at all levels, and temperatures throughout the country have struggled to creep up to average levels. This includes the Edgewood College Eagles, who have had a substantial number of home games postponed due to wet field conditions. I took advantage of the first nice Saturday of the year to take in an afternoon doubleheader.
Edgewood College is located on Lake Wingra in Madison, but many of their athletic facilities are off campus. The baseball team plays at a field inside Hometown USA Park in Verona, a suburb southwest of town. I approached the park from Hwy-151 and was excited to see a large number of cars in the parking lot, but I soon realized that I had mistakenly turned into the little league complex. Next door at Stampfl Field, the attendance was considerably less but still pretty decent for D3 baseball. As one would expect, the crowd was comprised mostly of family members, but just before the start of game 1, a group of about 15 female Edgewood College students sat down in my section. So, I had that going for me, which is nice. I was very much expecting the ballpark to be like Henry Aaron Field, the home field of my alma mater UW-Milwaukee - that is to say, not really a ballpark, but rather some rickety bleachers and a chain link fence inside a city park. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find an actual grandstand with canopy, nice new dugouts, an inning-tally scoreboard, press box, AND even a concession stand/team store! It was nice enough that you felt like you were at a "real" ballpark, but since it was still part of a community park, you were able to bring your own food and chairs, so it was like the best of both worlds. I moved from the grandstand to a standalone bleacher section in left for game two so I could sit in the sun, but I still did not feel that far from the action. From my seat here, I could see players take swings in the cage, warm up in the pen, and walk freely amongst the crowd to talk to parents and use the facilities. I could never have made it through a UW-Milwaukee doubleheader solo, but at Stampfl Field, even the minimal amount of fan accommodations made my day at the ballpark comfortable.
The Eagles dropped both games of the doubleheader to the Cougars of Concordia University-Chicago, and with the losses saw their hopes of making the Northern Athletics Conference Tournament dwindle. Game 1 was never really in reach. Edgewood College starter Brad Clark was roughed up for 7 runs in 4 2/3. Only 4 of the runs were earned due to some shotty defense, which was another contributing factor in the loss. In particular, the Eagles' third baseman is pretty awful and was charged with 2 errors, and every ball hit at him was an adventure. The Eagles made a game of it in when the Cougars let their guard down and decided to bring in Danny "The Sweet" La Dolce from right field to pitch the 8th. He promptly walked the first two batters, got a long fly ball out, and gave up a booming double and 2-run homer before exiting for a real pitcher who threw something other than gas. Shawn Miller was the standout for Concordia, going 3-5 with a HR and 3 RBI. Game 2 was much more of a pitchers' dual. Edgewood College starter Taylor Hillmann carried a shutout into the late innings, while his counterpart Dan Kluss escaped major damage while battling control issues. This time, the 8th was the inning of undoing instead of fortune as the Cougars plated 3 to take the lead. Thankfully, Hillmann was removed after 7 1/3 so he was not charged with the loss. He was superb, covering both sides of the plate well and scattering 7 hits with no walks. Jake Zadra finished up a nice day with 2 hits in the loss, and a total of 3 hits in the twinbill with a couple RBI. Sidewinder Dan Hoppel (seen in photo) also had a nice day; he pitched in relief in both games for a total of 2 1/3 scoreless. Concordia ran their record up to 25-5 with the sweep and in doing so is sure to improve on their #19 ranking, but perhaps even more disappointing, Freshman Edgewood College catcher Pete Hefty did not make an appearance in either game.
Admittedly, Midwestern D3 ball is the bottom of the barrel for collegiate talent, but it was a nice day and I spent a total of $2.50 for about 6 hours of entertainment, plus I got a foul ball, so it wasn't all bad. I will be sure to keep an eye out for some of the Edgewood College players on the Mallards roster this summer. Or, more likely, the Sheboygan A's.
park rankings and statistics:
aesthetics - 2
views from park - 2
view to field - 3 (obstructed in most places)
surrounding area - 3 (Verona, Hometown USA Park)
food variety - 1
nachos - 2
beer - n/a
vendor price - 9
ticket price - 10 (free)
atmosphere - 4
walk to park - 2
parking price/proximity - 9 (free adjacent lot but no signage)
concourses - 2
team shop - 6 (honestly, they get bonus points just for selling anything)
best food - giant hot dog
most unique stadium feature - dugouts
best jumbotron feature - n/a
best between-inning feature - me talking to players in line for the single bathroom
field dimensions - 325/375/310
starters - Bobby Beelen (CUC) v. Brad Clark (EC); Dan Kluss v. Taylor Hillmann
opponent - Concordia University-Chicago Cougars
time of game - 2:12; 2:21
attendance - 261
score - 11-5 L; 3-2 L
Brewers score that day - 6-4 W
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 04.28:
Brewers 12-10 (3 v. Pirates, 4 v. Cardinals)
Reds 13-12 (3 @ Cardinals, 3 @ Cubs)
Twins 10-10 (3 @ Tigers, 3 @ Indians)
2013 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 3
Peter - 7