Friday, February 09, 2007

Lockwood nails first hit as Vols win chilly home opener

Bud Ford had it right. "It's too cold for baseball."

Indeed it is. By first pitch just after 3 o'clock this afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, the temperature hovered around freezing. Spring it ain't.

But that doesn't stop a decent crowd of true believers from rooting on the Tennessee Volunteers to a 7-4 home opener win against Eastern Michigan.

UT starting pitcher Craig Cobb, a Farragut High grad, was brilliant through 8 innings. Cobb racked up a career-high 9 strikeouts, allowing one run, eight hits and no walks along the way, to earn the win. It was a much better outing than his disastrous start at Florida State last week.

Best news of all for coach Rod Delmonico might be that UT found their bats --- albeit after four innings of trying --- punching out seven runs on eight hits.

The highlight was the 5th, when the Vols scored five on only one hit, left fielder Jarred Frazier's double to right. Three Eastern Michigan errors helped the Tennessee cause tremendously.

Halls guy Jeff Lockwood didn't start today. He's resting this weekend due to an injury.

But Lockwood came on in the 8th, hitting an RBI standup double to score Frazier. Chances are he'll remember forever the moment the ball plopped safely in right field. It represented his first collegiate hit.

Baseball is best played in the spring, when the weather is comfy and thoughts turn to double plays and dingers, not hot chocolate and frostbite. But even in the thick of an East Tennessee winter, there's something beautiful about sitting behind home plate, watching the scouts clock Cobb's pitches with radar guns and staring out onto the green field of dreams, even if you also can see your breath.

I guess it's a disease.

Why else would a grownup who should know better freeze his butt off for two and a half hours? Guess it's because of the national game, which always soothes the soul, even on a frosty afternoon at Rocky Top.

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