CLEARWATER, Fla.–The inaugural Big East/Big Ten Challege is underway here at Jack Russell Stadium, and it probably feels a little like home for Connecticut and Michigan State. That’s because a stiff wind has forced fans, coaches and players to bundle up–but at least it’s sunny. I’ll be blogging updates all weekend, so be sure to check back often.
One of the players I was most excited to see this weekend was UConn sophomore shortstop Michael Olt. In the sixth inning, he showed the easy opposite-field power that helped him rank as the top prospect in the New England Collegiate League last summer, cracking a double off the wall in right-center field. In his two previous at-bats, Olt grounded to the left side of the infield and ran hard all the way up the line, once beating out the throw from shortstop. I expect he’s in for a big year.
I’ve also been impressed by the speed of Michigan State sophomore outfielder Brandon Eckerlie, who got from home to first in 3.62 seconds on a bunt in the seventh inning. Almost needless to say, he beat it out easily.
Right now it’s 3-1 Spartans in the seventh inning. This game has been rather sloppy, as might be expected for an Opening Day game between two teams that have scarcely practiced outdoors before yesterday.
By the way, Florida Gulf Coast edged Central MIchigan 4-3 in the first official game of 2009, at midnight at FGC. Brad Roberts hit a go-ahead two-run triple in the eighth inning to propel the Eagles. And given how cold it is here today, I imagine it was frigid in the middle of the night. Kudos to Central Michigan and Florida Gulf Coast for toughing it out.
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