State College of Florida Manatees top Baltimore Orioles in charity baseball game

jdill@bradenton.comApril 4, 2012 

SARASOTA -- Players like superstar catcher Matt Wieters and outfielder Adam Jones were just two of several everyday players who had exited after five innings on Tuesday as the Baltimore Orioles ended their stay at Ed Smith Stadium for another 11 months.

Pitchers wearing Orioles jerseys and using a Baltimore catcher, provided a contrast to the State College of Florida uniforms in the field at the charity game.

That gave the appearance of a controlled scrimmage.

But SCF's Orlando Rivera had a much different reaction following the Manatees' 2-1 victory in eight innings.

"A 'W' is a 'W'," he said. "Even though we didn't have our own pitchers, a 'W' is a 'W' ... You gotta take the 'W'."

Rivera went 2-for-3 with a stolen base and scored the game-winning run after a wild pitch in the fourth inning. SCF tallied just four hits against Baltimore pitchers.

The Orioles used several players who could be in the Opening Day lineup, including J.J. Hardy, who blasted a home run in the fourth inning as the lone run for Baltimore, before prospects took over after the fifth frame.

That regular cast of big leaguers gave former Manatee High standout Tyler Rocklein a chance to see how Major League Baseball players go about their business.

"I have a lot of work before I get to that level," said Rocklein, who singled during the fourth-inning scoring. "I mean, they do it for a living every day … the pitching is a lot better … better location, and their off speed, they actually throw their off speed for strikes. And they throw their off speed harder, too. I think I saw one at 89 miles per hour. That's the fastballs we see."

SCF's victory was the second over an MLB franchise since 2009. Back then, as the Manatee Community College Lancers, the program defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 at McKechnie Field. The Pirates featured minor league players at the time such as current star Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker.

The memo must have been missed as ESPN listed SCF still as MCC on its website following the game's final out.

The Manatees changed their name in July of 2009.

Earlier in that year, the then-MCC Lancers were misidentified as Manatee Junior College across numerous media outlets after they beat the Pirates' crop of prospects.

SCF continued its annual charity game with Pittsburgh until this season. The Orioles stepped in to fill the void and scheduled SCF at the end of their spring slate in Sarasota.

It also gave legendary SCF head coach Tim Hill a final game against an MLB team, as Hill is retiring after this season.

"It's a tradition here," said assistant coach Tim Hill II, who will take over as head coach following his father's retirement. "We pride our program that we're the only junior college program that can play a major-league team. A lot of JC's will play some of the minor-league teams. And we're the only ones that can step on a big league field here in spring training and play a game like this. We're really excited (Baltimore manager Buck) Showalter played all his guys."

Hill II and the coaching staff, though, have a different view on the outcome.

"I would not claim it as a 'W,'" he said. "For us, we're so down on pitching right now with four conference games this week. Fortunately for us, they were very understanding. ... The game is all about pitching and defense. So for them to be able to provide the pitching was nice. But at the same time, I thought our guys handled the baseball."

Still, though, the charity game, in which roughly 200 tickets sold at $3 apiece went back to SCF athletics, gave the Manatees a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"It's something they'll never forget," Hill said. "... We're just grateful that the Orioles and Buck Showalter (gave us this game)."

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service