Barna has much to reflect upon on long ride home
Driving through the desolate plains of Texas on Sunday gave Chris Barna more than enough reasons to recall the special baseball season that Lambuth College just completed.
“You can see for 50 miles out here and I haven’t seen a tree in a long time,” said Barna by cell phone Sunday night as he followed the long road home to South Lake Tahoe.
The junior catcher who prepped at South Tahoe High played a key role in leading the Eagles to a runner-up finish in regionals. Lambuth was eliminated 10-5 by tournament host Birmingham Southern on Saturday.
For a ballplayer who has struggled to stay healthy since graduated from STHS, his 2001 season was refreshing. The Eagles finished third in the Mid-South Conference, placed second in the postseason conference tournament and punctuated their season two wins shy of qualifying for the super regionals.
However, the season ended for the Eagles (46-24) in a sour way Saturday. Two Lambuth coaches and two pitchers were tossed in the defeat to Birmingham Southern.
“It was real bad. I’ve never yelled at a plate umpire before, but by the seventh inning I couldn’t hold back anymore,” Barna said. “We had to throw the ball down the middle to get a strike called, and if you do that, they’re going to tee off on it.”
Barna said the second- and third-base umpires apologized to him afterward for the way their partner called the game behind the plate.
“But the bottom line is you can’t argue with the umpires,” he said.
Although it was little consolation, Barna ended his season with a line-drive single in the seventh inning.
After dropping into the losers’ bracket with a 10-3 loss to Cumberland, Tenn., on Thursday, the Eagles rebounded to win back-to-back 8-7 thrillers Friday. Regional MVP Rashad Smith singled in the winning-run in the 11th as the Eagles eliminated Lindsey Wilson College of Columbia, Ky. Barna was 0 for 1 but drew three walks and executed a sacrifice bunt.
“We joke about it, but I guess they’re afraid of my size,” said Barna, who was third in the Mid-South with 60 walks.
Barna was 1 for 3 with a double and two walks in the one-run victory over Cumberland, which had beaten the Eagles in six of their previous seven meetings this season.
“We sent them home, which was probably one of the best things of the season,” Barna said. “You’d have thought we had just won the regional tournament (the way we celebrated).”
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