Monday, February 25, 2008

'Good times never seemed so good...'

False spring?

Maybe. It's only February.

But the field was ever so green, the sun warmed the soul and the UT baseball team edged out a good ol' good one to take the one game series against Furman 2-1 this afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Forget that groundhog. Spring must be near, folks. Baseball is back!

Vols closer and Halls High graduate Jeff Lockwood made things interesting in the final frame. With Tennessee clinging to a one run lead, Lockwood struck out Furman second baseman J.B. Jenkins.

Then he walked the bases loaded.

The natives began to stir after center fielder Joey Rodgers, shortstop Connor Lind and third baseman Bobby Hubbard all reached the pond with Lockwood's free pass.

But No. 25 leaned back and whiffed first baseman Ryan Lee and designated hitter John Paterson to earn the save. Lockwood yelled and jumped off the mound at 5:33 p.m. after Patterson whiffed at his final pitch of the afternoon.

UT starting pitcher Bryan Morgado was nothing short of brilliant. His final line was 1 run on two hits during 8 innings of work. Morgando racked up 12 big strikeouts and allowed only one walk.

Sitting in my usual spot behind home plate, I was glad to be back, happy to be feeling the first gasps of spring. Like an oasis in the desert, baseball in February is nourishment for the thirsty soul, after the dry loneliness of winter.

Basketball is what it is (and on Rocky Top, it's quite delicious at the moment). Football is but a memory. The NBA? Is that thing even still around?

And on a near-perfect Monday on The Hill, this great game, and the warmth of a false spring day, brought with them the promise of beautiful things to come on long, lazy, luxurious afternoons.

Maybe Neil Diamond said it best in that ode to a president's daughter, "Sweet Caroline." UT's public address guy fired the tune up as I was walking to my SUV.

Good times never seemed so good...

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