05/29/08 — Trojans take time away from World Series

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Trojans take time away from World Series

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 29, 2008 4:05 PM

ST. LOUIS -- Winning certainly has its advantages.

By defeating Ashland University in the second round of the NCAA Division II College World Series, Mount Olive College earned a day away from the diamond at GCS Ballpark in nearby Sauget, Ill., on Wednesday.

Fittingly, the team decided to spend their down time at a baseball field.

Players, coaches and fans all made their way to Busch Stadium to watch the major league game between the Cardinals and the Houston Astros. Sitting together in a section of seats along the right field line, the Trojans took in a 6-1 St. Louis victory.

"This is awesome. It's been a while since I got to see a major league game," said MOC relief pitcher Anthony Hernandez. "The last time I came to a big league park it was the old Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, and that has been about 12 years ago now."

Several Mount Olive players noted the enormity of the big yard as they joked around, took pictures and cheered for their favorite pros.

"This place is awesome," said MOC right fielder and Wisconsin native Alex Vertcnik. "I have been to the stadium in Milwaukee quite a few times, but this is even nicer than their park."

Seeing a game in the shadow of the famous Gateway Arch was just the most recent in a week of memorable experiences.

The team walked around the monuments outside the stadium, which immortalize MLB greats like Bob Gibson, Stan Musial and Ozzie Smith. Players also got to see a ball fly into Big Mac Land in the third deck of the left field seats when Ty Wigginton belted an Adam Wainwright pitch just inside the foul pole.

"The whole time has been amazing," said Hernandez. "To be here as a team is a lot of fun and to be able to see a professional game together is fantastic."

For Trojan assistant coach Rob Watt, the game was a chance to share a moment with three generations of his family.

"My oldest son and I have been to a pro game before but this is the first for my youngest son and I," said Watt. "It's been a while since my dad and I have gotten to a game together, too."

Watching his cell phone for updates from the elimination bracket of the College World Series, Watt kept an eye on the next Trojan opponent.

During the seventh inning Mount Olive learned that it will play Central Missouri in the semifinals of the CWS.

"Today we aren't worried about what is going to happen tomorrow," said Vertcnik. "Now we just get to be fans."