The difference the two teams was four runs and a few dozen hotdogs.
WKU baseball split its roster into two teams — one wearing black jerseys and the other wearing red — and had the two squads play a nine inning game Saturday to close out the fall practice season.
The victors of the match would be awarded the spoils of a grilled steak while the loser would be relegated to having hotdogs for their post-game meal.
Along with the extra motivation of having the steak, which was being grilled during the game along the third base-line party deck, the game was also a good opportunity for first-year Head Coach Matt Myers to judge his teams strengths and weaknesses.
One of the things he took notice of was how the Black Team didn’t quit despite the fact that the Red Team had put up four runs early in the game.
The Red Team — headlined by senior second baseman Ivan Hartle, senior third baseman Casey Dykes, senior right fielder Ryan Hutchison and Ryan Huck — ended up winning 7-3.
“This game was 6-1 at one point but Team Black came back,” Myers said. “It just shows that you can never put year head down in this game because you have a chance to win if you just take care of the little things.”
He also said since he hasn’t cemented who will be starting regularly when the season opens on Feb. 17.
But Myers said this game was another opportunity for players to make their case for playing time.
“We’re always competing,” he said. “And these guys have another few months to work out and make our lineup. But we have a lot of depth so I think we have a lot of guys who will contribute.”
When talking about who in particular had impressed him on the field, Meyers mentioned junior starting pitcher Tanner Perkins.
Perkins gave up three runs in four innings of work pitching for the Black Team.
Perkins, who went 7-4 with a 2.36 ERA in 2011, said that he was looking to build on what he’s been working on in the offseason.
“I’ve been working on some pitches with Coach Myers and the staff this fall,” he said. “I wanted to establish my fastball and keep my change up going like I did last year.”
Though things didn’t always go as planned during his four innings of work, Perkins said that he trusts his teammates to help pull him out of trouble on defense and offense.
“Even if I do go out there and give up three runs, I know my team’s got my back and I don’t have anything to worry about,” he said.
One of the hitters who will hope to give Perkins, and the rest of the pitching staff run support, is Hutchinson.
Hutchinson, who Perkins said is one of the toughest outs on the team due to his patience at the plate, said that the steak his squad got to eat after the final out was only a secondary reward.
“There was a little trash talk leading up to the game but it was all in good fun,” he said. “It gave us the extra motivation, but the main motivation was not losing.”
Hutchinson said that, like Myers, he found reasons to be optimistic of the team’s performance for the upcoming season.
“I think we had a lot of positives today,” he said. “There were two teams out there today, so just think what we could do as a whole when we’re not split up in two.”