"Hello again, everybody. It's a bee-yooo-tiful day for baseball."
That phrase became famous in Major League Baseball, coined by the late, legendary radio broadcaster Harry Caray.
The Glen Rose Tigers may not be on the same level as the professionals, but the phrase, indeed, rings true as the Texas High School baseball playoffs are set to get under way.
After a two week postponement, District 7-3A champ Glen Rose traveled to McGregor on Tuesday for a tune-up against Rockdale.
"I don't think the warm-up game became more important (because of the swine flu delay), but it is going to be important for these guys to get some competition in," said Glen Rose head coach Kenny Toney. "We've had our pitchers throw in a simulated game, but it'd be nice to get some competition in."
On Monday, the Tigers will hit the field against Bridgeport in a one game, win-or-go-home Region I area championship showdown.
"The first goal is to beat Bridgeport, then as you continue in the playoffs the next team becomes your goal," said Toney.
The Tigers certainly have a lot of things in their favor heading into the 2009 post season.
Toney has compared this squad to the 2004 Tiger team that reached the regional semifinals, the deepest a Glen Rose team has ever advanced.
"It's really the team chemistry," said Toney. "Like that group, we don't have any superstars. We have some good kids that work hard and don't quit."
The Tigers are looking to avenge their second round dismissal from last season's playoffs when they lost two of three to Frisco Wakeland.
"It's our last go round," said senior pitcher Derek Thompson. "I've had high expectations all year, and I believe we can make it to Austin. If we do what we're coached to do, then I think we've got a shot. People are more focused this year, and they have something to prove. We have a lot of new faces on varsity, but they stepped up this year and I think we're ready go."
Glen Rose is led by the pitching of Thompson and newcomer Immanuel Morales.
Thompson has been the "big game" pitcher for the Tigers since joining the team in mid-March, while Morales has been a solid compliment in the No. 2 spot of the rotation.
"We've had solid pitching all year," said Thompson. "That's going to help us go far. Immanuel, when he's been available, has been hard to hit. We're going to need him to step up in the playoffs if we want to be successful."
Ty Taylor is making his second consecutive trip to the playoffs, and as the battery mate for the Tigers' pitching staff he will play a more vital role this time around.
"Since Ty has made the transition to catcher, there hasn't been a setback yet," said Thompson. "Josh [Teague] was a good catcher last year, and Ty is filling his shoes so far this year."
Any fan of baseball knows that it takes more than a single pitcher to win a championship, that explains why Toney expects big things from everyone in the Tiger lineup.
"Reagan [Rotan] has done an excellent job for us in the leadoff position and that changes the whole game when you have a leadoff man that can get on consistently," said Toney. "Jacob [Goebel] has come through several times during the year with clutch hits and defensive plays. Immanuel, also, could pitch game two should we play a series, as well as being a designated hitter."
The Tigers have the pieces in place to be in serious contention for a deep playoff run.
"I've told them someone has to be the state champions, why can't it be us?”said Toney.
Thompson and Goebel have a firm grasp on Toney's message.
"Win state," said the senior Tiger tandem when asked for their playoff expectations.
The Tigers will face Bridgeport at Saginaw Boswell High School on Monday with Thompson taking the bump for the first pitch at 7:30 p.m.