Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

April 3, 2014

Cougars, Cardinals will share Busch Stadium in June

Alex McNamee
Effingham Daily News

FARINA — The South Central baseball team is going back to Busch Stadium.

The Cougars will take the field against Mattoon after the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants leave it, following the Cardinals’ 1:15 p.m. game on Sunday, June 1.

The teams have a two and a half hour time slot to play as many innings at Busch Stadium as they can, which is usually a full nine innings, Cougars head coach Curt Jones said.

Jones is bringing his program back to the Cardinals’ field for the first time since 2011.

“You watch all (the Cardinals’) games on TV all the time and sit in the stands, but it doesn’t compare to getting on the field and getting to play on that kind of surface,” Jones said. “If you like baseball, it’s the ultimate (experience).”

The Cardinals charge $14,000 for schools to get their names on a long list of schools seeking to play at the stadium. South Central has 800 discounted tickets to sell to the Cardinals’ game and ticket holders are permitted to move down to the field box seats during the high school game.

Jones said the 800 tickets are a fundraiser to help pay the $14,000 fee that otherwise comes out of pocket, but said he’s had success in the past. Tickets are divided among coaches, players and the school to sell.

Tickets in the right field pavilion, normally sold for $41, can be purchased for $25 apiece. Every ticket holder receives one voucher for a free hot dog and soda.

The exhibition comes in the midst of the high school postseason, but Sunday won’t conflict with other games this season if the Cougars or Green Wave make deep runs.

In 2011, however, the Cougars’ Busch Stadium date fell on the same day as the super-sectional, which would’ve been a problem if South Central made it that far.

Jones said he looks forward to the exhibition because it’s such a great experience for the players, but he said it’s stressful for him to coach.

“You want to make sure the kids get an equal amount of playing time,” Jones said. “It’s more of a relief when it’s over making sure I didn’t slight somebody.”

Win or lose, Jones said the game is more about the experience and fun of the day.

Tickets can be purchased from coaches and players or at the school’s office.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or alex.mcnamee@effinghamdailynews.com.