UM falls in Barons exhibition
In the midst of a packed schedule and five-game losing streak, the University of Montevallo decided to take a night away from it’s schedule and challenge the Birmingham Barons in a preseason exhibition Monday. Despite falling 8-0, it was a needed experience, according to UM head coach John Jarnagin.
“It was a once in a life time opportunity for our guys to pitch against future big leaguers. It’s one of those situations that they could have beat us 100-0 if they wanted to, just because of who they are,” Jarnagin said. “The whole night what we tried to do is just have fun and take it and be grateful that they allowed us to play them. On the left side of the diamond you have $16 million. To play against those kind of guys was really incredible. It was a great privilege.”
Despite the loss, a few of the Falcons had performances they may never forget, beginning with starting pitcher Heath Wilson. Wilson opened the game with a scoreless three-inning pitcher’s duel against Barons pitcher Lucas Harrell. Harrell fanned six Falcons, while Wilson was relying on pop ups and grounders to keep the Barons off the board. Harrell exited the game after three innings, while Wilson lasted one more, giving up a solo home run to Brandon Allen and allowing another run with a wild pitch.
“When you make mistakes to the people that they are they don’t get a hit off of you, it’s out,” Montevallo head coach John Jarnigan said.
Wilson was pulled after the fourth inning after facing 17 batters in the game, allowing two runs, walking three and giving up three hits.
Trailing only 2-0, Jarnagin was hoping to find a pitcher to help keep the Barons guessing at their off speed pitches. However, the fifth inning resulted in three spot for the Barons and Jarnagin decided it was time to let everyone pitch and play.
Freshman Wes Rich of Pelham started the sixth inning, facing only two batters. His first batter to face, Javier Colina, he sat down on strikes. He received a fly ball to retire the second. It was the first of three strikeouts in the game by Montevallo pitchers, as Taylor Edwards and Stephen Taylor also record Ks.
“Wes is turning out to be what we thought he would be, which is great. He’s a hard worker anyway. We don’t have much else though,” Jarnagin said of his conference starter that has an opposing batting average of .188 in Gulf South Conference play.
Ryan Norman picked up UM’s only hit of the game to lead off the fourth.
Montevallo (21-18-1, 3-9) has lost 10 of its last 13 games and is now limited to an outside shot at the postseason after being swept by the University of Alabama-Huntsville over the weekend.
“For us to make the tournament we’re probably going to have to go 5-1. Which is not impossible, but we’re going to have to do better. This past weekend was a tough weekend. It is what it is and I think our guys have tried we just needed to have better pitching,” Jarnagin said. “I’m still grateful for what we’ve done and our think our guys have really tried. We’re going to try to finish strong, but its’ not looking real good right now.”
Jarnagin said playing the Barons was a good bonus to the season, since “99.999 percent” of his players will not have a chance at playing pro ball.
UM alumni and Barons general manager Jonathan Nelson helped arrange the game and spoke to the team before the game.
Dayan Viciedo led Birmingham with three hits, including two doubles and two RBIs.
The Barons open their season Thursday against the Chattanooga Lookouts at home at 7:05 p.m. Montevallo will host Columbus State University at 3 p.m. Tuesday.