May 22, 2013

By Mason Nesbitt, TMC Sports Information Intern

LEWISTON, ID -- People have been teasing me lately that I jumped on the bandwagon at the right time and that I’m getting all the glory without putting in a season’s worth of hard work. I always respond, "Absolutely."

I don’t know about the glory, but I’ve definitely been getting plenty of free t-shirts in the last three weeks.  There was one for getting to the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament, one for winning it and then one for "participating" in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics first round.

Hopefully a national championship shirt is to follow.

I spent this spring semester—my last—at The Master’s College doing a mix of public address announcing, play-by-play commentating and game recap writing for TMC’s baseball team.  This in turn helped me land the opportunity to cover TMC baseball for The Signal (Santa Clarita's local newspaper) as well as a few Foothill League games.

Two weeks before the GSAC tournament, TMC’s bench was thin due to a rash of injuries.  As one of only a few former players on campus, Mustang head coach Monte Brooks approached me about a return to the dugout.  We chatted later that week, everything fell into place and when the Mustangs took the field for the first game of the tournament, I was in uniform.

It was the first time I’d suited up since my sophomore year when I was a relief pitcher for Brooks.  My career 8.90 ERA should tell you he wasn’t bringing me back to pitch; rather I’d be a pinch-runner, or a “warm body” as an assistant coach put it—basically, if five more guys got hurt, I could be counted on to run the bases counter-clockwise.

Being both an emergency pinch runner on a team headed to Lewiston, Idaho, for the NAIA World Series and a writer for The Signal presented a unique opportunity.  I could provide first hand perspective on the tournament to those of you who couldn’t make the trip north.

And after landing in a rainy 40-degree Spokane, Wash. and making the two-hour drive to our hotel in Clarkston, Wash. (across the river from Lewiston) I’m doing just that.

We left TMC at 4:20 a.m., three-fourths of the team looked headed to Hawaii rather than Idaho, wearing flower patterned lurid button-ups.  Two naps, an Island Burger from Waddell's Neighbourhood Grille, 13 hours and 1000 miles later, we encountered something familiar...practice.  After using a local high school’s field, we returned to the hotel for some much-needed rest; with more practice, an elementary school visit and a banquet awaiting us tomorrow.

The real fun starts Friday against Northwood, Texas at noon.  It'd be easy to talk about how great their statistics are or how many games they’ve won; 43 in case you’re wondering.  But truth is, we haven't seen any of these teams nor the other teams in their respective conferences play.  That said, we won't know how good Northwood really is till at least the second inning.

I won’t be pitching. I certainly won’t be hitting. I may not even run.  But I’ll give you the view from the dugout as we start our run at the national title.