Keeping up this blog has opened my eyes to new and interesting facts about baseball in the Tampa Bay area. Although I’ve lived in Tampa for eight years and written about the Rays and the minor league teams for most of that, prior to starting this blog, there was a lot I didn’t know about Tampa area baseball.
One of the biggest surprises to me was how good the University of Tampa’s baseball program is. I had no idea they won six NCAA Division II national championships since 1992. They won the national championship in 2013 and look to repeat this year, going 51-2. They begin the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament on May 24th.
It bears repeating: this season, they went 51-2. Last season, they went 47-12 and won the title.
This season: 51-2.
On Sunday, I went to my first Tampa Spartans game, a day game versus Florida Southern for the NCAA Southern Region Championship. The event and their quality of play drew my attention.
The University of Tampa Baseball Field is in downtown Tampa. There is not a nicer baseball backdrop in the Tampa Bay area. It is a small facility, located on a corner on campus. The website says the stadium holds 750. If so, I think that would be packing folks in really tight.
As for the game, the Spartans held up their end, winning 3-0 over FSC. Sophomore Trey Oest was efficient and effective, needing only 78 pitches to throw a one-hit complete game shutout. His size, motion, and mechanics on the mound reminded me of former Major Leaguer Brad Penny.
Including me, 340 people were at Sunday’s game. It was hot and humid, but being May, it was not unbearable. It was the fourth highest attended game in the season for the Spartans.
- May 4, Game 1 vs Florida Tech: 487
- May 4, Game 2 vs Florida Tech: 487
- Mar 28 vs Florida Southern: 341
- May 18 vs Florida Southern: 340
For the season, the University of Tampa baseball team averaged 218 people per home game.
Although their schedule isn’t limited to Florida-based opponents, the University of Tampa seems to get a bump when playing in-state rivals. That’s expected as local alumni support visiting teams and fans that follow the visitors don’t have far to travel. Sunday’s game, for example, drew a good amount of Florida Southern College fans who made the hour-long trip from Lakeland to support their team.
Next season, I’m sure I’ll attend more University of Tampa games. The Spartans baseball team has a lot going for them.
At $10 a ticket, the price was higher than the minor league teams, but lower than the Rays. Although there is limited shade at the stadium – unless I bring my own – it’s nice to be in a downtown stadium that overlooks the city. And last but not least, the University of Tampa has the most successful baseball team in the Tampa Bay area.