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Author: Cole Thompson

On the Bump – May 2, 2012 (Final blog of the year)

On the Bump With Cole Thompson

Hello Gents’ fans and welcome back to the final edition of “On the Bump” for the 2012 season. It was a great year of baseball and a fun one as well. This week I will discuss our final four games of the season, review our season, and look forward to next year.

On Tuesday of last week we played a doubleheader against LSU Shreveport (LSUS). Like I said last week, they are the #1 ranked team in NAIA baseball with a 42-4 record. We were excited to welcome them to our house, and the weather provided a great day for baseball. Unfortunately, LSUS jumped out to a 12-0 lead after the top of the fourth inning. They took advantage of our inconsistent pitching and defense. When we play a quality team such as LSUS, we cannot afford to play as poorly as we did.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Tyler Clakley got our first hit of the game. Kyle Morton followed that at-bat by depositing a pitch over the right field wall for his 9th home run of the season to cut the lead to 12-2. LSUS answered back with three more runs over the next few innings as they took a 15-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. We scored three runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by a two-RBI triple by senior Kyle Morton. Jeff Schaffert knocked in Morton with a sacrifice fly later in the inning. We entered the final inning trailing 15-5, but we did not quit.

Matt Creamer hit a sacrifice fly to score Craig Littleman, and Ryan Gasporra followed with a two-run homer to cut the lead to 15-8. Jeff Schaffert continued the rally with an RBI double to score Tyler Clakley, and Jemari James followed with a two-RBI double that scored Schaffert and Morton. Next, freshman Jake Moore pinch-hit and recorded his first collegiate hit. He had a great at-bat as he battled and worked the count. I was really proud of him for stepping up in a pressure situation and continuing the rally. Unfortunately, our comeback effort fell short as we were defeated by a final score of 15-11. Like I said earlier, we just cannot afford to fall behind 12-0 early in a game. However, our late inning success provided some momentum going into game two of the doubleheader. Kyle Morton and Tyler Clakley each had three hits to lead our offensive attack.

LSUS started game two off by striking for two runs, but we answered back with two runs of our own. Matt Creamer led off the bottom of the first with a home run, which was the first of his career. We were all really excited for Matt because he has worked hard in the cages and the weight room ever since he came in as a freshman. Jeff Schaffert doubled to drive home Tyler Clakley to knot the game at two apiece. We struck again for three more runs in the bottom of the second, as we took advantage of a few walks and an error by the LSUS defense. In the third inning, Craig Littleman smoked a double into the gap to score Dan Lazarou to extend our lead to 6-2. Unfortunately, LSUS scored four in the fourth inning to tie the game at six.

LSUS added a solo home run in the fifth inning to take a 7-6 lead. Once again we took advantage of an LSUS error in the sixth inning to tie the game at seven. We had a chance to score a walk-off win in the seventh inning, but we were unable to score with a runner on third and less than two outs. LSUS took advantage of our inability to execute and they scored three runs in the eighth inning to take a 10-7 lead. We did not score in the bottom half of the inning, and as a result we suffered another tough loss.

I hate to lose close games, but hopefully we learned as a team that we need to compete and do the little things right when we play high quality teams. On the mound, Taylor Henry started for us and threw well. He worked around a few untimely errors and gave us a chance to win. Senior Lance Nugent threw well in relief, and I know the game meant a lot to him because he used to play for LSUS. It was probably the best that Lance’s mechanics had looked all season, and the ball came out of his hand really well. Matt Creamer went three-for-four and Jeff Schaffert went two-for-five to lead our offense.

On Thursday we had the opportunity to travel to Longview, Texas for a doubleheader with LeTourneau. It was the last games for our seniors, so the coaching staff changed our batting order to allow our seniors to bat 1-2-3 in the order. Dan Lazarou took advantage of the change and led off the game with a single. He eventually scored on an RBI Ryan Gasporra double. Tyler Clakley had a quality team at-bat as he grounded out to second, which allowed Jeff Schaffert to score to extend our lead to 2-0. In the second inning, Dan Lazarou cranked a two-run homer to left field to push the lead to 4-0. LeTourneau answered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to close the gap to 4-3.

The score stayed there until the top of the sixth when Marc Martinez singled to right, which drove home Tyler Clakley. In the top of the seventh, Dan Lazarou scored on an error to make our lead 6-3. Tyler Clakley strolled up to the plate with the bases loaded, and immediately deposited a pitch over the centerfield wall to bust the game open and give us a 10-3 lead. Freshman Erasmo Valdez pinch-hit in the sixth inning, which made it his first at-bat of the season. On cue, he smoked a ball to left field for a single. We were all really happy for “Mo” because he works hard and is a good kid. You always love to see a guy be successful when he is given an opportunity. We ended up needing all those runs because LeTourneau scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh, but Lance Nugent closed the door to secure our 10-8 win.

Nic Parrott threw really well for us on the mound, as he went 5.2 innings and struck out a season-high six batters. Dan Lazarou took advantage of batting leadoff as he went three-for-four and scored three runs. Tyler Clakley went two-for-four, highlighted by his grand slam.

In game two, we took advantage of a few LeTourneau errors and took a 2-0 lead. However, the lead was short-lived as we handed them five runs. We didn’t throw strikes, balked, and committed two errors. Craig Littleman scored on a passed ball in the third inning to trim the lead to 5-3, and put us right back in the game. LeTourneau scored one in the bottom half of the inning and the score remained 6-3 until Craig Littleman hit his second home run of the season in the top of the fifth inning. Ryan Gasporra hit a mammoth home run to right center in the sixth inning, his ninth of the year, to cut the lead to 6-5.

Unfortunately, the bottom of the sixth inning did not go our way. We had a tailor-made double play ball, but the ball took an awful hop right over Matt Creamer’s head. The inning went south from there and LeTourneau busted the game open. They scored five runs to take an 11-5 lead. In the bottom half of the inning, Dan Lazarou hit an RBI double in his final collegiate at-bat to score Craig Littleman. However, the game would end with us on the losing side, falling by a score of 11-6. Freshman Chase Clarke threw really well throughout the middle innings and kept us in the game. It was good to see Chase get out there and throw well because he hadn’t pitched in a few weeks. He controlled the strike zone and struck out seven batters. Dan Lazarou and Craig Littleman each had two hits to pace our offense.

The season didn’t end as we would have hoped, but it was still a successful season. We finished with a 24-15 record, but it was a little disappointing, considering we were 18-5 at one point. However, we built a firm foundation at the DIII level. Most teams like to peak at the end of the season, but we peaked around early March. I am not sure if being ineligible for postseason play had any affect on our late season struggles, but it was definitely a little frustrating knowing that we were not able to play in the conference tournament. Regardless, it was still a fun, successful season. We beat two DI teams (Louisiana Tech and Grambling), and we won series against McMurry and Mississippi College who are in the final four of our conference tournament. If anything, I felt bad for our four seniors because they were not able to play any postseason baseball in their final season. Jeff Schaffert, Dan Lazarou, Kyle Morton, and Lance Nugent left it all on the field this year, and we appreciate everything they did for our program this year.

As for next season, we return five out of eight starters in the field, and we will return all but one pitcher. I am excited for next year because it will be much different in the fall than my past two years. The last two years, our coaches have had to recruit nearly a whole new team each season due to players transferring out because of the transition to DIII. However, we will return a majority of our team, so we will not have to go through a steep learning curve in the fall. The team will know what is expected of them on the field, in the weight room, and in the classroom. Also, we will be eligible for the conference tournament next year in our new conference, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC). However, we are still not eligible to be ranked or go to the national tournament due to the reclassification process, per NCAA rules. The SCAC is a great conference, but the conference will be much different than last year. The old SCAC is splitting into two conferences. Teams currently in the conference such as Rhodes, Hendrix, Millsaps, and Birmingham-Southern will not be in our conference. Our baseball conference will consist of Centenary, Trinity, Austin College, University of Dallas, and Southwestern University. Schreiner and Texas Lutheran will join the conference in 2013-2014. I am excited for next season because I believe our hitting will still be good, and our young pitching staff will have another year of experience.

As for me, I am off to Alaska this summer to play in the Alaska Baseball League. I will play for the Peninsula Oilers in Kenai, Alaska. I am excited to play in the league and represent Centenary. There will be a lot of good talent up there and it is an honor to have the opportunity to play in the league. Ryan Gasporra is also going to a quality collegiate summer league. He will be in Albany, New York this summer playing for the Albany Dutchmen. A lot of our guys will also be playing in a local Shreveport summer league as well. My hope is that our younger guys really work hard this summer and come back in the fall ready to go. I have been around the college game for a while now, and I can honestly say that if you put in the work and effort, you make great strides on the field each year. However, I have also seen the polar opposite where guys take it easy for the summer, and they come back flat and behind their teammates preparation wise.

I appreciate all of you stopping by to read the blog this year. I enjoy writing it and I hope it is a way for friends, family and fans of Centenary baseball to gain an inside look into our program. I will be back next year for my senior season and writing the blog once again. I hope everyone has a good summer, stop by next season to check up on our progress. Until next year, Go Gents!

On the Bump – April 23, 2012

On the Bump with Cole Thompson

Welcome back to the “Senior Edition” of “On the Bump”. Due to rain, we only played two games this weekend. However, we also added two games onto our schedule for this next week. This week I will tell you about how our “Senior Day” went, preview our upcoming doubleheader with LSU-Shreveport, and talk about the two games we have added to our schedule.

Tuesday’s practice was short because the majority of our team was in Arkansas for a JV game. It was very productive though because the hitters in our starting lineup got a lot of swings on the field and got to work on some small things that they don’t always get the chance to practice.

Wednesday and Thursday’s practices were also light as practice mainly consisted of batting practice. Our hitters still had a sour taste in their mouth from the UT-Dallas series, so they all worked extra hard in batting practice this week and put in extra work in the batting cages.

We were supposed to play on Friday against LeTourneau, but a thunderstorm forced Friday’s game to be postponed. As a result, we played a doubleheader on Saturday. We have added a few more games as a result of the rainout, so check out the end of the blog to read about our new additions to the schedule.

The first game on Saturday did not start out as planned when LeTourneau jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the top of the third inning. LeTourneau took advantage of a few errors and suicide squeezed two runs in to take the lead. Our offense got rolling in the bottom of the third when Matt Creamer, Ryan Gasporra, Tyler Clakley, and Kyle Morton strung together four consecutive two-out hits to score three runs. However, that would be all the scoring in the game as LeTourneau won by a final score of 4-3. Lance Nugent threw well enough to win, but errors and some unlucky breaks put us on the losing side. We out-hit LeTourneau 9-5, but our mistakes haunted us. We can play at a much higher level than that, but it was disappointing to come out flat after not playing well our past two weekends as well. Matt Creamer, Ryan Gasporra, and Tyler Clakley all went two-for-four at the plate to pace our offense.

LeTourneau scored one in the top of the first to open game two, but our offense answered back with a run of our own when Jemari James walked with the bases loaded to bring home Matt Creamer. We scored again in the second inning to extend our lead to 2-1 when Craig Littleman scored on an error. Taylor Henry replaced me on the mound in the third inning and he threw great in relief. He threw six shutout innings and only allowed three hits while striking out six batters. While Henry cruised on the mound, our hitters continued to score runs. In the fourth inning, Ryan Gasporra singled home Matt Creamer, and Tyler Clakley followed that up with a two-run home run to deep right center field to make our lead 5-1. In the sixth inning, Tyler Clakley singled home Matt Creamer to add on another run. Our offense busted the game wide open in the eighth inning when we scored three runs to push our lead to 9-1. Matt Creamer scored on a ball hit to the outfield by Tyler Clakley. Clakley hit the ball to the wall, but the outfielder misplayed it so it was scored an error. Kyle Morton then knocked in Timmy Chhor with a sacrifice fly. Jeff Schaffert capped off the scoring by singling home Tyler Clakley. Trey Lavespere threw a shutout inning in the ninth, striking out two, to finish off our 9-1 victory.

We played much better in game two of the doubleheader. Our pitching, defense, and hitting was better and the final score obviously reflects that. Matt Creamer was the catalyst for our offense in game two as he went four-for-four at the plate and scored four runs. Tyler Clakley and Marc Martinez also had multi-hit games to lead our offensive attack. We also had our “Senior Day” festivities after the game. We honored Dan Lazarou, Kyle Morton, Lance Nugent, and Jeff Schaffert for their dedication and effort they have given our program. It was great to have all of their families there, especially considering that three of the four families travelled all the way to Shreveport from Michigan or Canada.

Tomorrow we play LSU-Shreveport (LSU-S) in a non-conference doubleheader. They are a great team, as reflected by their ridiculous 42-4 record. It is extremely impressive to win 42 out of 46 games at any level of baseball. They are ranked #1 nationally in the NAIA poll and will present a great challenge for our ball club. It seems like we have a tendency to play to the level of our opponents. Luckily, LSU-S is a great team so hopefully we will come out tomorrow and play a solid two games of baseball. It will be a fun game for us because some of our guys are friends with several of their players so it will add a little bit of “bragging rights” to some friendships. Both teams have a great mutual respect for each other as we have played against each other the past two falls. It will be some good baseball so if you are in the Shreveport area come out and see two great teams “go at it” on the diamond.

We have also added two more games to our schedule. We will travel to LeTourneau in Longview, Texas for two games on Thursday. Rainouts have allowed these games to be tacked onto our schedule. It will be the last game in a Centenary uniform for our seniors so I know we will try our best to send them out on a good note.

Check back next week to hear how our final four games went. I will also provide a recap of the season and a quick look forward into the future of Centenary baseball. Go Gents!

On the Bump – April 17, 2012

On the Bump with Cole Thompson

Hello everyone and welcome back to “On the Bump”. The season is slowly creeping to an end, but we are still working harder than ever. Although things did not really go our way in Dallas, we are preparing hard to finish strong in our last conference series of the year this weekend as we host LeTourneau. This week I will talk about our trip to Dallas, our athletic banquet, and talk about what our four seniors have meant to our program.

Last week, we left for Dallas around 4 PM on Thursday afternoon. We took three big vans instead of a bus. Players typically like bus rides because we get to watch movies and we have more space, but van rides are fun because we get to interact with our teammates and coaches a little bit more than we typically would on a road trip. As I stated in an earlier blog, our team chemistry is great this year and it shows on our road trips.

We battled through Dallas traffic and made it to our hotel. We ate dinner at my house in Plano, which was about ten minutes from the hotel. My family catered La Hacienda Ranch for dinner, which was some good Mexican food. I enjoyed having the team over at the house and my family enjoyed the experience and getting to know the team a little better.

The first game of the series with UT-Dallas was Friday afternoon, and we were excited to get out there and compete against the division leaders in the conference standings. The game was definitely a pitchers’ duel, as Lance Nugent threw a gem for us.

We took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Marc Martinez drove in Jeff Schaffert on a sacrifice fly. Jemari James provided a key double in the inning to move Jeff over to third base. UTD answered with a run in the bottom of the third inning, but that was the only time Nugent allowed them to put up a run on the scoreboard. In the seventh inning, with the score tied at one, Marc Martinez cranked a two-run homer to left field to give us a 3-1 lead.

That was all the help that Nugent needed, as he hurled a complete game and limited UTD to only four hits. He attacked the UTD hitters and filled up the strike zone, which is always a good recipe for success. Jeff Schaffert led the offense by going three-for-four while scoring two runs.

I started Saturday’s doubleheader and it did not start quite as well as Friday’s game, as UTD jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Two infield hits and a groundball single loaded the bases, and they proceeded to score on a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch. In the top of the third inning, UTD hit a three-run homerun to extend their lead to 5-0. In the top of the sixth, UTD took advantage of an off day from our bullpen and put up five more runs to take a 10-0 lead. We were shutout for the first time this season, and we lost by a final score of 10-0.

The game was much closer than the score indicated, as UTD busted the game open in the later innings. In reality, I wish I had two pitches to redo. I would redo my wild pitch in the first inning, and the home run pitch in the third inning. It’s crazy that two pitches can sway the outcome of a game so greatly, but that’s baseball. I gave us a chance to win, but it just wasn’t our day offensively. Our offense has bailed out our pitching and defense several times this year, so it is understandable that they had an off day. Ryan Gasporra and Marc Martinez led us at the plate as they both went two for three. I was disappointed to lose in Dallas, because it is the closest I will ever play to home in my college career. I appreciate all my friends and family that came out to watch and support our team.

The third game of the series was also a pitchers’ duel. The game was scoreless going into the fifth inning, as Nic Parrott started and pitched really well for us. We struck first in the top of the fifth inning when Jemari James drove home Jeff Schaffert with an RBI double. Unfortunately, UTD answered with a two-run homerun in the bottom of the sixth, and that was enough to defeat us as we lost by a final score of 2-1. Nic Parrott and Taylor Henry both threw really well for us, but our offense couldn’t quite get going. However, we are a TEAM and we believe in each other. I am not worried about our offense and I fully believe that they will come out swinging hot bats this next weekend.

On Monday night we had our athletic banquet at the El Dorado Hotel in downtown Shreveport. It was a great get-together as all of Centenary’s athletes and coaches assembled for a dinner and guest speaker. Mark Briggs, a local preacher, spoke to us about having a purpose and goals in our life.

Now I want to take a moment to highlight our four seniors. This weekend is Senior Day, which means that their collegiate careers are coming to an end. I think a few of the guys may have an opportunity to play baseball after college, but only time will tell. I will talk about Lance Nugent, Dan Lazarou, Kyle Morton, and Jeff Schaffert and discuss how they have been valuable to our team over the last few years.

Lance Nugent is a senior pitcher from Colfax, Louisiana. This is Lance’s first year to play at Centenary, as he has also played at Frank Phillips Junior College, Bossier Parrish Community College, and LSU-Shreveport. Lance has brought leadership to our pitching staff and he has showed our younger pitchers how to go out there and compete. Lance is also one of the best “flips” players on the pitching staff. “Flips” is a game that we play when we have downtime at the field. Lance has made the most of his senior year at Centenary, as he carries a 7-1 record into the final five games of the season.

Dan Lazarou is a senior outfielder from Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. Dan was part of the same recruiting class as myself (class of 2009), but he entered as a junior college transfer. Unfortunately, Dan had to redshirt his first year at Centenary because a few of his credits did not transfer over like the school originally thought they would. Dan pitched and played outfield for us as a junior last season, and he has played centerfield his whole senior season. Dan is a leader in the outfield and he has done a great job of mentoring some of our younger players. Dan is a great teammate and he understands that we must work as a team in order to win. Even though it is his last season to play college baseball, I always see him putting in extra work in the batting cages and on the field. He understands that it is never too late to get better, and he works to improve his game each day.

Kyle Morton is a senior first baseman from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. “Morty” has started at first base for us the past two seasons after transferring to Centenary from Bossier Parrish Community College. Morty has been a mainstay in the middle of our lineup and he has had a great senior season. He is flirting with a batting average of .400, so come support him these last five home games as he attempts to reach a sacred number in baseball. He also leads the team with eight homeruns. Kyle is a leader on this team and our younger guys look to him when they need help or have questions. He is a great competitor and we will miss him greatly next season.

Jeff Schaffert is a senior catcher from Midland, Michigan. Jeff has caught the better part of the last four years for Centenary, and he is the undisputed team leader. On and off the field, he is looked up to as a captain and a decision maker. I am very glad that Jeff stayed at Centenary for the duration of his career because many players that he played with transferred out when the school announced they would drop to Division III. Jeff lived with me the summer after my freshman year as we both played on a summer league team in the Dallas area together. Jeff’s leadership and experience will be greatly missed and I know when it is all said and done, he will have left everything on the field after his four and a half years at Centenary. He is also an outstanding student in the classroom.

Be sure to come out to our series with LeTourneau this weekend and stick around after the games on Saturday to honor these four seniors. I know that we will come out motivated and ready to play against LeTourneau. Until next week, Go Gents!

On the Bump – April 10, 2012

On the Bump with Cole Thompson

Happy Easter Gents’ fans and welcome back to the thirteenth edition of “On the Bump” this season. It was a pretty exciting week as we welcomed nationally ranked UT-Tyler to Shreveport for a three game series. Although the series did not go how we had hoped, we still learned a lot.

Once again, rainstorms altered our practice schedule for the week. It has rained more than usual in Shreveport this spring, but luckily we have only had one game rained out so far. During our short week of practice we mainly practiced under a “live batting practice” format. Basically, it was a scrimmage but with no base runners. By doing this, our pitchers were able to get good work in by facing live hitters, and at the same time our hitters got better by facing live pitching.

Friday’s game started out on a tough note as UT-Tyler struck first to take a 1-0 lead. Our offense answered back with a run of their own in the bottom of the first as Tyler Clakley’s RBI single drove home Matt Creamer, who started the inning off with a double. However, that would be the only run we would muster until the bottom of the sixth. UT-Tyler scored a single run in the second, third, and fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead. Unfortunately, they busted the game open in the top of the sixth with a three run inning. We scored a run in the bottom of the sixth to make it 7-2, but the deficit was too great to overcome. It was the first time we lost the opening game of a series since the Trinity series back in mid-February. That is a testament to how well Lance Nugent has thrown for us. We can always rely on Lance to go out and compete and give us a chance to win the first game of a series. Nugent battled through five innings on Friday, and kept us in the game. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he still battled for us. It was his first loss of the season, which also speaks to how well he has thrown this year. Nic Parrott threw a solid three innings of relief as well. Ryan Gasporra and Tyler Clakley, who each went two for four at the plate, led us offensively.

The first game on Saturday didn’t start much better, as UT-Tyler scored two runs in the first inning and two runs in the second inning. Interestingly, they scored all four of those runs with two outs. Credit UT-Tyler for clutch two-out hitting, but at the same time, I need to make better pitches with two outs and get our team back in the dugout and on the offensive side of the game. I just left the ball up in the strike zone a little bit too much and UT-Tyler did a good job of hitting mistakes. They are a good team and I know that I can’t get away with making so many bad pitches against a good hitting team. UT-Tyler scored four unearned runs in the third inning to take a 9-0 lead. As a team, we need to pitch better and play better defense, or else games like this will happen. Our offense answered back with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to make the score 9-2.

Jeff Schaffert’s RBI single scored Matt Creamer, and Kyle Morton scored later in the inning on a UT-Tyler error. Unfortunately, that was all the offense we could muster as UT-Tyler went on to win the game 13-2. It was an all around ugly game. Our pitching struggled, our defense wasn’t sharp, and our offense was held in check. Games like this happen, but it is a mess when all three facets of the game are not working at the same time. On the bright side, Trey Guccione and Trey Lavespere threw well in relief for us. We didn’t have any guys with a multi-hit game, and I am pretty sure that is the first time that has happened all season. However, that game was in the past so we knew we had to “flush it” and mentally prepare for the final game of our series.

In game three of the series, UT-Tyler struck first, as they scored two runs on a bloop single into shallow centerfield. Our offense bounced back and answered with a run in the bottom of the first inning as Matt Creamer scored on a Kyle Morton RBI single. We scored two more runs in the bottom of the third inning, as Ryan Gasporra scored on a Kyle Morton sacrifice fly, and Tyler Clakley scored on a Jeff Schaffert RBI single. UT-Tyler scored a run in the top of the fourth to tie the game at three, but we erupted for three runs on five hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 6-3 lead. Dan Lazarou scored on Ryan Gasporra’s RBI single, Craig Littleman scored on Tyler Clakley’s RBI single, and Ryan Gasporra scored on Kyle Morton’s RBI single. UT-Tyler threatened to take the lead in the top of the fifth, as they scored two runs to make the score 6-5. We knew it was make or break time, and we did not want to be swept at home. Nic Parrott threw a clutch 4 1/3 innings for us after throwing three innings the night before. In the bottom of the fifth, Jemari James scored on an RBI ground out by Craig Littleman to extend our lead to 7-5. Grady Flournoy held down their hitters through the middle innings and allowed our offense to extend their lead.

In the bottom of the sixth, Jeff Schaffert scored on an RBI double by Jemari James, and Jemari eventually scored on an RBI single by Marc Martinez. The score remained 9-5 until the bottom of the eighth, when our offense added three insurance runs to extend our lead to 12-5. Kyle Morton led off the inning with a home run, his eighth of the year. Marc Martinez’ sacrifice fly drove home Jeff Schaffert, and Dan Lazarou’s RBI scored Jemari James, who had another double in the inning. We held on to win 12-5, and we all felt much better about that game. Our pitching, offense, and defense played much better, and as a result we beat a nationally ranked team. Nic Parrott, Grady Flournoy, and Taylor Henry all pitched well. It was especially nice to see Taylor bounce back from the night before and shut down UT-Tyler for the last 2.1 innings. Our hitters did a great job as well, as they pounded out eighteen hits. Tyler Clakley, Kyle Morton, Jeff Schaffert, Jemari James, Marc Martinez, and Dan Lazarou all had multi-hit games. Marc Martinez led the attack as he went a perfect four for four at the plate with two RBI.

We really didn’t play well this weekend. We had an opportunity to prove our worth against a nationally ranked team at home and we did not perform up to our expectations in the first two games. We weren’t nervous; we just didn’t play our best baseball. It was disappointing because it was our chance to prove that we are a great team. I still believe we are a great team, but we need to win series like that to prove to the other teams around the conference that we are a force to be reckoned with.

This weekend we will head over to Dallas, Texas to take on UT-Dallas in a three game series. I am excited for this trip because I am from Plano (just north of Dallas), and it will be the first time I have had the chance to play a collegiate game in the Dallas area. UT-Dallas is having a great year and we know that we will need to raise our level of play from this past weekend if we expect to win this series.

We appreciate all the fans that came out to support us during our series with UT-Tyler over Easter weekend. We had a good crowd at all three games and it was a fun weekend even though things didn’t quite go our way. Check back next week to see how our series against conference leader UT-Dallas went. Go Gents!

On the Bump – April 3, 2012

On the Bump with Cole Thompson

Hello Gents’ fans and welcome back to another week of “On the Bump”. This is a busy but short week for us, as Easter weekend is on the horizon. We only have classes on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and then we are off for the rest of the week. However, it is far from an off-week on the baseball field, as we are preparing for a busy weekend with nationally ranked UT-Tyler. This week I will talk about our three game series with Mississippi College, and explain to you why we are not eligible to be ranked this year in the national polls. I know there has been a lot of confusion, so I will try my best to make it short and simple.

This past week was a little different because Coach Jolley hosted a Spring Break Baseball Camp for local Shreveport kids. When we weren’t in class, it was likely that you could find our players out at the field helping organize and run the camp. It was fun to get out there and share our baseball knowledge with young campers.

Our practice during the week was short, but intense and busy. We really hammered down on improving our defense, and our pitchers threw their bullpens to live hitters. It was the kind of week where we expose our weaknesses, but with the intent to better ourselves by strengthening the weakest parts of our game.

On Thursday afternoon we left for Mississippi College, which is in Clinton, Mississippi. It was about a three-hour bus ride, and we arrived at Mississippi College around 7 p.m. We took batting practice in their batting cages and our pitchers played catch in the outfield. One of the first things we noticed was that Mississippi College had great facilities and a nice field. After practice we headed over to a nice meal at Applebee’s, which we all enjoyed.

Friday was a great day because we did not have a morning practice or a wake-up call for an early game. Since we didn’t play until 6 p.m., we were able to sleep until about 10 a.m. and then go grab breakfast in the hotel lobby. You could tell that our offense was well rested, as they erupted for five runs in the top of the first inning of game one. Ryan Gasporra doubled to start the rally, and Tyler Clakley knocked him in with a two run homer to right field. Next, Kyle Morton smoked a double to right field, and scored on an RBI single by Jeff Schaffert. Jemari James capped off the inning with a two run bomb to right field that hit off the top of the scoreboard at Mississippi College. Mississippi College scored a single run in the first and second innings to make the score 5-2, but we answered with another run in the third inning on an RBI double by Marc Martinez, which drove in Jeff Schaffert.

Lance Nugent held the Mississippi College bats in check over the next few innings, as we took our 6-2 lead into the sixth inning. Our bats put the game out of reach in the sixth inning, as we put up four more runs. We took advantage of an error by Mississippi College to score a run, and then Ryan Gasporra put the nail in the coffin by hitting a three run home run to the opposite field, which drove in Craig Littleman and Matt Creamer. Mississippi College scored a run in the eighth inning and two runs in the ninth, but it was not enough to overcome our lead. We won 10-5, and Lance Nugent earned his sixth win of the year. Nugent did a great job of fighting for eight innings and making sure that we kept our big lead. He attacked hitters and forced them to string hits together in order to beat us. Our defense was a little off in the ninth inning, but besides that we played a good game defensively. At the plate, Ryan Gasporra, Tyler Clakley, Kyle Morton, Jeff Schaffert, and Jemari James all had multi-hit games. That is the meat of our batting order, so I would say it’s a great day offensively when they all have multi-hit games.

Our offense stayed hot in game two of the series as Ryan Gasporra and Kyle Morton hit solo home runs in the first inning to give us a 2-0 lead. However, Mississippi College answered back with three runs in the bottom of the first inning. I will take blame for that, because I started off the inning by hitting a batter, walking a batter, and then trying to get an out at third on a bunt when I should have thrown to first base and made the easy play. Our offense picked me up though and scored four runs in the second inning. Craig Littleman hit a sacrifice fly to score Jemari James, and then Ryan Gasporra smoked a two RBI triple to right field. Tyler Clakley wrapped up the scoring with an RBI single that scored Gasporra. I settled into the game on the mound and the score was still 6-3 going into the sixth inning. Dan Lazarou added a sacrifice fly to score Jemari James and extend our lead to 7-3.

Unfortunately, Mississippi College scored four runs in the sixth inning to tie the game. They strung a few hits together and capitalized on an error, and as a result they tied the game. I was disappointed that I was unable to hold off their rally, but that’s baseball. Some days the ball finds defenders, and some days the ball finds holes. Grady Flournoy came on in relief and was able to get us out of the inning. Grady has done a good job of pitching since coming off of his knee and elbow injuries. Our offense answered back strong as Tyler Clakley blasted a two run homer to put us up 9-7. Keep in mind this was the seven inning game, so we were three outs away from winning. However, Mississippi College rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh to steal a 10-9 win. Losses like that hurt badly, especially when we lead by as many as four runs late in the game. It was especially frustrating because we worked on playing defense with a two run lead earlier in the week in practice. But like I said, that’s baseball. Sometimes you win the close games, and sometimes you lose them.

Game three of the series was a little different, as freshman Taylor Henry made his first start of the season. Taylor has thrown a lot in relief for us this year, but we needed him to make a key start for us. Interestingly, he also pitched in relief in the first two games of the series against Mississippi College. The game remained scoreless until the third inning when our offense came through for five runs on seven hits. Matt Creamer got the rally going with a single, and he scored on a Ryan Gasporra two run homer, his third home run of the weekend. Consecutive singles by Tyler Clakley, Kyle Morton, Jeff Schaffert, Jemari James, and Marc Martinez led to our next three runs. It was really impressive to see our offense knock out seven consecutive hits in the inning. We scored again in the fourth inning when Matt Creamer scored on a wild pitch. We extended our lead to 7-0 in the fifth inning when a Matt Creamer RBI single scored Dan Lazarou, who led off the inning with a single. Mississippi College scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut our lead to 7-2, but our offense answered back with a single run in the sixth and seventh inning to push it back to a 9-2 lead.

Jemari James singled home Kyle Morton in the sixth inning, and a Ryan Gasporra RBI groundout scored Matt Creamer in the seventh inning. Mississippi College made it close in the seventh inning when they scored three runs, but Nic Parrott came in and slammed the door on their rally. We tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth inning when Dan Lazarou and Marc Martinez scored on a two RBI double by Matt Creamer, and Tyler Clakley’s RBI single eventually scored Creamer. We won by a final score of 12-5 and won the series two games to one. We received a great effort from our hitters, who pounded out sixteen hits in the game. Also, Taylor Henry was great in his start as he pitched five innings and only allowed one earned run. Matt Creamer led our offensive attack as he went 5-for-5 at the plate with three RBI and four stolen bases. Tyler Clakley, Jeff Schaffert, Jemari James, and Marc Martinez also had multi-hit games for us. Also, Craig Littleman played a key role in our offense as he got two sacrifice bunts down.

All in all, it was a pretty good weekend. Although we would have really liked to win all three games, we played well against a good team on the road. Our offense really swung the bats well, as we scored 31 runs in three games, and we cranked out seven home runs on the weekend.

Now, I will answer a question that has not really been fully addressed to our fan base. People have been asking, “Why aren’t we ranked since we have a record of 20-7?”, “Why is our conference record 0-0?”, “Why are we not eligible for the conference tournament or national tournament at the end of the season?”. I will do my best in this next paragraph to explain as clearly and briefly as possible the answers to these questions. We are in our first full year as a Division III program, therefore we are not eligible to be ranked or play in the post-season. This is not an American Southwest Conference (ASC) or D3baseball.com rule, this is an NCAA rule. We are going through a “re-classifying” period. As a result, we are not allowed to be ranked in the national polls or win the conference this year. However, when we move to the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) next year, we will be eligible to win the conference tournament. Even though we are not eligible to win any big “prize” this year, we are still playing hard. We play for our teammates, our coaches, our pride, our athletic program, our four seniors, and ourselves. Although the media likes to paint us as a “Full D1” team, we only have 4 guys on baseball scholarship. Some of our best hitters and pitchers are not on any type of athletic scholarship (like every other DIII team). But rules are rules and we are still in the “in-between” stages of switching Divisions. Regardless of the media attention we receive (or lack thereof), we aim to win every game. There is no question in my mind that our team is strong willed and we will not quit as the season goes on. My hope is that our younger guys, who are not currently playing as much, buy into the system and choose to continue to work hard and develop their skills in practice and JV games. The younger guys are the future of our program, and by the time they are upperclassmen the program will be nearing full Division III stature.

I also wanted to give a quick shout out to all the former Centenary Gents baseball players in professional baseball right now. Six guys that were on the team my freshman year are now working their way up the ranks in the Minor Leagues. Dakota Robinson and Stephen Tromblee are pitchers who play for the Los Angeles Angels organization. Dakota is in High-A playing for the Inland Empire 66’ers, while Tromblee is in Low-A playing for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Alex Todd is a shortstop that plays for the Houston Astros organization and he is beginning the season in Low-A for the Lexington Legends. Boone Whiting is now playing in High-A for the Palm Beach Cardinals, a minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Seth Lugo, a pitcher in the New York Mets organization, is coming back from an injury and he will start the spring season in Extended Spring Training. Jimmy Hoyt spent a portion of Spring Training with the Oakland A’s, but an injury forced the A’s to cut him near the end of camp. However, Jimmy is trying out for a few teams in Arizona and will hopefully make a team in the next few weeks. You can go to milb.com and track their progress as their seasons progress.

This week we are preparing for a big series with UT-Tyler. They are ranked #23 in the nation, and they are a perennial power in this conference. They have earned the respect of all the teams in the region with their success, so we know they will be a tough opponent. We are looking forward to the challenge and it should be a great series this weekend in Shreveport.

Thanks for stopping by to check out the blog this week and come by next week to hear about our series with UT-Tyler. Go Gents!

On the Bump – March 25, 2012

Blog: On the Bump w/ Cole Thompson

Hello everyone and welcome back to another week of “On the Bump”. Once again heavy rain changed our plans for the week. We were unable to practice on Tuesday, and our game against Louisiana Tech was postponed on Wednesday. However, we had beautiful weather this weekend for our three game series with the University of the Ozarks.

On Monday our JV team travelled to Texarkana for a doubleheader. As a result, our Varsity team was on our own to hit in the cages and the pitchers long-tossed and ran. Our JV team is fortunate to play every week because it gives guys a chance to play in games that don’t get the opportunity to play on the weekends.

Unfortunately, it poured rain in Shreveport all day Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. We had to cancel practice on Tuesday, and our game at Louisiana Tech was cancelled on Wednesday. We are trying to find a make-up date that works for both teams, so stay tuned for updates about a possible future game time. Thursday was a light practice as we prepared for the Ozarks Eagles. We took a light batting practice and made sure the field was cleaned up and ready to go.

Friday was excellent weather as we began our three game series with the University of the Ozarks. We struck first as Jemari James delivered a two-RBI single in the bottom of the first inning. Dan Lazarou led off the second inning with a single, and he scored on a Craig Littleman double. Craig eventually scored on a Ryan Gasporra RBI single, and Tyler Clakley scored on an error with two outs. We led 5-0 after two innings, and we felt like we had the game under control. Lance Nugent was effective for us, even though he didn’t have his best stuff. He battled through 6 1/3 innings and only allowed one run. Sometimes as a pitcher you don’t have your best stuff, but you still have to give your team a chance to win. Lance did a great job of that and battled for us.

We busted the game open in the bottom of the sixth inning, as we erupted for seven runs on five hits. Kyle Morton started the scoring with an RBI double that scored Ryan Gasporra. Tyler Clakley scored on a wild pitch, and Jemari James drove in Morton with an RBI single. Jeff Schaffert scored on an error, and Craig Littleman drove home Jemari James on a sacrifice fly. Matt Creamer wrapped up the scoring for the inning by delivering a two-RBI single to right field that scored Dan Lazarou and Marc Martinez. The University of the Ozarks scored their lone run in the top of the seventh, but we answered with another run in the bottom of the seventh to extend our lead to 13-1. Kyle Morton got the inning going with a double, and Jeff Schaffert drove him in with an RBI single.

Our young relievers threw well at the end of the game, as Trey Lavespere, Kamden Haglund, and Trey Guccione all threw well over the last three innings to shut down the University of the Ozarks offense. Also, some of our younger guys got a chance to pinch-hit and play defense in the late innings of the game. It is important that we bust games open like that because it gives our young freshman a chance to get some experience. All of our guys work hard in practice and JV games, so it is nice to see them rewarded with some playing time in conference games. Offensively, Ryan Gasporra, Kyle Morton, Jeff Schaffert, Jemari James, and Dan Lazarou all delivered multi-hit games for us. James drove in three runs, while Tyler Clakley scored three runs.

In game two of the series our offense came out firing on all cylinders once again. We put up four runs in the first inning and took the early momentum away from the Eagles. Matt Creamer led off the inning for us and was hit by a pitch. He stole second, and scored on a Ryan Gasporra single. Jeff Schaffert drove Gasporra in with an RBI single, and Dan Lazarou drove in Kyle Morton and Jeff Schaffert with a two-RBI single.

I started on the mound for us, and focused on filling up the strike zone. My back had been hurting all week, so I was little concerned as to how well it would hold up over the course of the game. Fortunately, our trainer Stephanie did a great job of taking care of it all week and it felt pretty good for the most part throughout the game. I held the Eagles scoreless through the first three innings, but they scratched out a run in the top of the fourth. In the bottom of the fifth, back-to-back RBI singles by Jeff Schaffert and Jemari James scored Ryan Gasporra and Tyler Clakley, which extended our lead to 6-1. That ended up being the final score, as we clinched the series victory.

I threw all seven innings and struck out eight batters. However, I consider the bigger achievement to be zero walks. Coach Stephens really hates walks and falling behind in the count, and we have been putting a bigger emphasis on that facet of the game over the past few weeks. Jeff Schaffert led our offensive attack, going 2-for-3 with two RBI. Also, we played an errorless game in the field, which always helps our cause. Our defense is improving each week, and I look forward to more errorless games in our future.

The University of the Ozarks struck first in game three, as they took a 1-0 lead after two innings. Craig Littleman led off the third inning with a double, and he eventually scored on Ryan Gasporra’s sacrifice fly. However, the Eagles answered with another run to take a 2-1 lead after four innings. They added another run in the top of the fifth inning, but Craig Littleman answered back with his first home run of the season to make it 3-2. Kyle Morton added an RBI single to score Ryan Gasporra to knot the game at three. The score stayed tied at three until the ninth inning, when the Eagles busted the game open, scoring five runs. Kyle Morton crushed a home run in the bottom of the ninth, but it was not enough as we fell 8-4.

Chase Clarke started and competed for 3 1/3 innings. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win. Grady Flournoy threw a solid 2 2/3 innings in relief, striking out four while only allowing one run. Taylor Henry threw well for two innings, but the Eagles bats came alive in the final frame. Kyle Morton, Marc Martinez, and Craig Littleman paced our offense with multi-hit games.

Yes, we won the series, but we were still disappointed. I believe we were the better team, but every team has a chance to win on any given day. We didn’t execute in the last game and the Eagles took advantage of our mistakes in the last inning resulting in a tough loss.

On the bright side, we have won all five of our conference series this year. We look to continue that streak against Mississippi College next week as we head east for our next series. They are one of the better teams in our half of the conference, so we know we will have to elevate our level of play if we expect to win.

Thanks to all of our fans for coming out to the ballpark this past weekend. We appreciated the support and it was nice to have a good crowd out at the games in the great weather. Stop by next week to hear how our series with Mississippi College went. Until next week, go Gents!

On the Bump – March 20, 2012

Hello Gents fans and welcome back to yet another busy week of baseball. We played four games this past week, and they were all great games. We played a tough mid-week game against Grambling, and three games this weekend against conference opponent Louisiana College. This week I will tell you about all four games, and talk about our upcoming games against Louisiana Tech and University of the Ozarks.

We started off the week with a home game against Grambling on Tuesday. It was supposed to be played at Grambling, but heavy rain over the weekend resulted in their field being unplayable. The game started out a little rough, as our starting pitcher was only able to record one out. However, Nic Parrott came on in relief and minimized the damage. However, we were down 2-0 after the top of the first inning. Tyler Clakley got the inning going with a two out double, and he eventually scored on a Jeff Schaffert RBI single. Unfortunately, that was all the offense we would get for awhile as Grambling led 4-1 after the top of the fourth inning. We were flat and the energy level was very low up to this point. After the top of the fourth inning I huddled our bench players (non-starters and pitchers) together and told them that we have to pick up the energy level and pick up the intensity.

Low and behold, we scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jemari James got the scoring started, as he stroked an RBI single to right that scored Tyler Clakley. Dan Lazarou tacked on two more runs with a two-RBI double that scored Jemari James and Jeff Schaffert. Craig Littleman added an RBI single and Matt Creamer added a sacrifice fly to complete the scoring for the inning. Grambling added a run in the top of the fifth, but we answered with an RBI groundout by Jeff Schaffert to extend the lead to 7-5. Grambling scratched across another run in the sixth inning, and the score stayed at 7-6 until the bottom of the seventh inning. With two outs, Dan Lazarou ripped an RBI single to right to score Jeff Schaffert, and Craig Littleman followed that up with a clutch RBI triple to score Dan. Grambling scored a run in the eighth and ninth innings, but Kyle Morton cancelled out their runs by blasting a two run home run to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning. In the end, we won 11-8. It was not a pretty game, but we got the job done. We struggled a little defensively, which was obvious by the “5” in our error column.

On the bright side, we knocked out 15 hits offensively. On the mound, Nic Parrott threw well in relief and earned the win. Taylor Henry closed out the last three innings for us and earned the save as a result of his efforts. Another bright spot was Grady Flournoy’s return to our pitching lineup this week. Grady had Tommy John surgery (the last phrase you want to hear as a pitcher) last year, so it was great to add him back into the equation. At the plate, Jemari James and Dan Lazarou led our offensive attack. James went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Lazarou went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Tyler Clakley, Kyle Morton, Jeff Schaffert, and Craig Littleman all had multi-hit games as well. In the end, we still beat a Division I team while playing far from our highest level. While our level of play disappointed us, we were glad to come out on top. In fact, Grambling is no slouch of a program. This past weekend they defeated the #5 ranked team in the country, the Rice Owls.

 

On Wednesday we had an intersquad scrimmage, however, I did not get the chance to stick around and watch most of it. At the beginning of practice, our shortstop, Matt Creamer, was practicing fielding ground balls, and a ball took a bad hop. The ball skipped over his glove and caught him right around his left eye. I took him to the hospital, where he received a few stitches to go along with a nice sized bruise/swelling around his eye. Matt’s parents met us there and they were glad that the damage was not worse. I enjoyed his dad’s comment that “he must have had good form” in order for the ball to hop up in the face. Yes, he was in front of the ball and kept his head down (perfect form), unfortunately, the ball took a bad hop. But, you have to love dads, always finding a positive in the situation!

Thursday was a light practice, because we always take it a little easier the day before a game. On Friday, we left for Louisiana College, which is located in Pineville, Louisiana. It was only about an hour and a half drive, so we took several vans instead of a bus. Most of the pitchers rode in Coach Stephen’s van and we had a fun time jamming some classic music and preparing for the game.

Our offense got started early on Friday night as Matt Creamer led off the game with a single, and he eventually scored on a Jeff Schaffert sacrifice fly. We added two runs in the top of the third inning. Jeff Schaffert drove in a run with an RBI double, and Marc Martinez eventually knocked Jeff in with an RBI single. Lance Nugent started on the mound for us and was great. I know he was excited for the game because he grew up in Colfax, which is just outside of Pineville. He pitched great, as he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. The score remained 3-0 until the eighth inning, when both teams scratched out a run. Marc Martinez led off the inning with a single, and he eventually scored on a wild pitch. The final score was 4-1, as Lance Nugent earned his fourth win of the season, and Taylor Henry closed out the final 1 2/3 innings for us. Lance threw 7 1/3 innings, striking out six, while allowing four hits. Matt Creamer, Jeff Schaffert, and Marc Martinez all had multi-hit games for us. I jokingly told Matt’s dad that he needed to take a ball to the eye every week, because he swung the bat really well this weekend. We played better than the score indicated, but we still need to finish stronger and put the game away when we have the opportunity.

After the game on Friday night, we had the opportunity to enjoy a nice dinner at Trey Lavespere’s grandparents’ home. It was an excellent meal, and our team really appreciated the hospitality that his family showed. Also, his “little” brother, Gabe, makes some great desserts. College students rarely get to enjoy a home-cooked meal, so we really appreciated the time and effort they put into the dinner to make sure we enjoyed ourselves. Thank you again for the great dinner, hospitality, and support.

I started game two of the series for us, and Louisiana College threw their best pitcher, who is statistically the best pitcher in the conference (his ERA is under 1). This was a seven-inning game, so we knew it was important to gain momentum early. The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when Louisiana College knocked in two runs to take a 2-0 lead. However, our offense answered back as Jemari James scored on a fielder’s choice to pull us within one run. The score remained 2-1 until the top of the seventh, which would be our last at-bat of the game if we failed to score a run. Dan Lazarou got things going with a one out single. He eventually stole second, and scored on a ball that trickled into right field. The play at the plate was extremely close, but Dan executed an excellent and evasive headfirst slide to score just before he was tagged. We eventually went to extra innings, where we scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning. A Jeff Schaffert single drove in both Tyler Clakley and Kyle Morton to give us a 4-2 lead. However, Louisiana College managed to score two runs in the bottom of the eighth to force another extra inning. Interestingly, they scored two runs without a base hit. They took advantage of our mistakes and we paid for it. We could have pouted over our misfortunes, but our team is stronger than that.

Dan Lazarou led off the top of the ninth with a home run to give us a 5-4 lead. I will talk later in the blog about why Dan was so successful this weekend, so stay tuned for that. Tyler Clakley added an RBI single that scored Craig Littleman, and Kyle Morton eventually added an RBI sacrifice fly that scored Ryan Gasporra. Grady Flournoy, who pitched out of a jam in the eighth, closed out the ninth and we ended up winning 7-5. We didn’t play great, but I was very proud of our team for battling back multiple times and eventually winning the game. I would say that my start was okay for our team. I battled, competed, and gave our team a chance to win, but I would have liked to have not allowed two runs. Nic Parrott threw well in relief, and Grady Flournoy earned his first collegiate win. As I stated earlier, Grady had elbow surgery about a year ago, so you always feel extremely happy for guys that bounce back from adversity like that. At the plate, Tyler Clakley, who went 3-for-4, and Dan Lazarou, who went 2-for-3, led us offensively. Dan was really successful all week because he put in the time and effort. Multiple times this week I saw Dan up at the field two to three hours before practice working on his hitting. He really committed to getting better, and as a result good things happened. By no means am I saying our other guys don’t put in the extra work, but I specifically saw Dan put in several extra hours of work this week. After each hit he recorded this weekend, I specifically thought that his play was a direct result of the hard work he put in during the week.

Our offense started out hot in the series finale, as Jeff Schaffert crushed a home run to left in the top of the second inning to give us a 1-0 lead. Kyle Morton added a three run homer in the third inning to extend our lead to 4-0. However, Louisiana College answered with four runs of their own to knot the game at four apiece after three innings. We scored one in the top of the fourth, as Matt Creamer drove in Craig Littleman, who singled with two outs to start the rally. Unfortunately, Louisiana College roared back with three more runs to take a 7-5 lead. Our big mistake came when their All-American shortstop Jordan Marks deposited a 0-2 pitch over the wall for a two-run home run. As a pitching staff, we have to be better than that and make better pitches, especially when the count is in our favor and we are facing their best hitter. The score remained 7-5 going into the final inning (7th inning). We erupted for four runs in the top of the seventh to take a 9-7 lead. We capitalized on their defensive mistakes, and came up with some clutch hits. Ryan Gasporra started the inning with a single, and he eventually scored on a Jeff Schaffert RBI single. Jemari James drove in two runs with an RBI double. Unfortunately, Louisiana College strung together four consecutive hits in the bottom half of the inning to salvage a 10-9 victory. We were disappointed to lose the game because we battled hard to get back in the game. On the bright side, Dustin Dalton made his first appearance on the mound and threw well for 1 1/3 innings. Matt Creamer, Jeff Schaffert, and Jemari James all had a multi-hit game for us offensively.

Louisiana College wasn’t a bad team, and I expect them to contend for a playoff spot on the East side of the ASC. However, I believe we should have won all three games. We are a good team, and we still need to fix a few things before we can call ourselves a “great” team. In a way, I think the loss was good for us because it reminded us that we are not invincible. We have been playing really well since mid-February, but I think this series served as a reminder that we can’t just walk into the ballpark and expect to win. Teams really want to beat us, and we realize we have a target on our backs. It is up to us to rise to the challenge each day and bring our “A Game” to the field each game as well.

On Sunday I got to experience some of Louisiana’s finest cuisine, boiled crawfish. Trey Lavespere, Lance Nugent, Marc Martinez, Kamden Haglund, and myself ventured over to Bossier City and ate at Crawfish Palace for dinner. If you are looking for crawfish in the Shreveport/Bossier area, I highly recommend Crawfish Palace. Kamden is from San Diego, California, so it was fun to let him experience a little bit of our southern culture.

This week, we play at Louisiana Tech on Wednesday, and host the University of the Ozarks for three games this weekend. Heavy rain is forecasted for Tuesday and Wednesday, so stay tuned for updates about our game at Louisiana Tech. Follow us on twitter @CentGents to receive the latest updates about games, weather reports, and more. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see a lot of maroon at Shehee Stadium this weekend for our conference series with the University of the Ozarks. Until next week, Go Gents!

On the Bump – March 12, 2012

Hello everyone and welcome back to another week in the life of a Centenary baseball student-athlete. It’s been a hectic week with practices, a mid-week game against Louisiana Tech, and a weekend series with East Texas Baptist. Also, Mother Nature was not very cooperative this week, which made the weekend that much busier. All in all, it was a great week for Centenary baseball. I will explain to you why it was a great week for us in this edition of “On the Bump”.

After our series in Abilene last weekend, we followed it up with a mid-week game on Tuesday against Division 1 Louisiana Tech. We try our best to treat every game equally, but our guys were a little more amped up for this game than your typical mid-week game. Sophomore Nic Parrott got the start on the mound for us, his first start of the season. Louisiana Tech got to him early, as their leadoff hitter deposited the first pitch over the left field wall for a home run, and then the 2 hole hit a double off the wall. Nic managed to work out of the inning, but we trailed 2-0 after the top of the 1st. Last year, I think our team might have folded and been discouraged by the early deficit. However, this team is mentally tough and they accepted the challenge. We scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st. A Ryan Gasporra RBI double, and a Jemari James 2 RBI double highlighted our offense in the 1st inning. Parrot threw a 3 up, 3 down top of the 2nd inning to help swing the momentum our way, and our offense erupted for 5 runs in the bottom of the 2nd. Matt Creamer, Ryan Gasporra (double), Jeff Schaffert (2 RBI double), and Jemari James (double) each delivered RBI hits in the inning. The score remained 8-2 until the 5th inning, when the Bulldogs scratched across a run. I remember thinking at this point, “we need to answer back with a run ASAP and not let them take our momentum.” Low and behold, Marc Martinez delivered with a home run in the bottom of the 5th to answer back, and give us a 9-3 lead. That was a key point in the game because Tech left the bases loaded in the top of the 5th, and momentum was slowly starting to turn back their way. We scored 5 more in the bottom of the 6th to stretch our lead to 14-3. A Jemari James 2 RBI double once again highlighted the inning. Louisiana Tech threatened in the top of the 7th, scoring 3 runs and loading the bases with 2 outs, but freshman Taylor Henry took over for Nic Parrott and forced a groundout to escape the jam. Louisiana Tech scored 2 more in the 8th, but it was not enough as the final score was 14-8. It was a great win for our program, but at the same time it was just another game. We have the utmost respect for Louisiana Tech, and we respect the fact that they are a quality team. Anything can happen on any given day, and that is what makes baseball great. We travel to Ruston on March 20th (a Wednesday), and I know it will be another quality baseball game. In my opinion, there were a few key reasons we won the game. First, Nic Parrott bounced back really well on the mound. He could have folded and been rattled by the success of their first 2 hitters, but instead he settled in and pitched into the 7th inning for us. He hadn’t pitched in about 3 weeks, so it was great to see him bounce back and have a quality outing. Second, our defense played better than they have all year. Matt Creamer, Craig Littleman, Marc Martinez, and Kyle Morton all made key plays in the infield. We made about 5 plays in situations where we had previously been inconsistent this season, and that was key for us. My final key point is that our hitters did a phenomenal job. Matt Creamer (3 for 6 with 3 runs, a double, and 1 RBI), Ryan Gasporra (4 for 6 with 3 runs, 2 doubles, and 1 RBI), Kyle Morton (2 for 4, 3 runs), Jemari James (4 for 5 with 1 run, 3 doubles, and 5 RBI) really came through huge for us. Specifically, I was really proud of Jemari James. His season started off a little slow, but over the past week he has really started to click and swing the bat well. What we accomplished Tuesday was great, as a team and as a school. We did something that everyone said was impossible, we fought and competed at the Division 1 level. It was a great win, but like I said earlier, we play them again so we cannot hang our hat on that one game. Also, thanks to everyone who came out to the game. The attendance was great, even though I would venture to say that about 65% of the crowd was Louisiana Tech fans. Regardless of which team the fans were cheering for, it is always fun to play in front of bigger crowds.

 

We came back out on Wednesday and had a quality practice. However, Thursday’s practice was hampered by rain, and we were forced to hit in the cages and our pitchers played catch in the soggy outfield. The weather also affected our weekend series with East Texas Baptist, as we were forced to push our games back to Saturday and Sunday (conference games are typically Friday and Saturday). We ended up playing 2 games on Saturday, and Sunday’s series finale was rained out. It is unknown if or when we will make up the series finale with ETBU, but it could possibly be made up as a mid-week game later in the season.

Game 1 started off with Lance Nugent on the mound for the Gents. Lance has been a workhorse for us all year, but he ran into a little trouble in the first inning. ETBU scored 3 in the first inning, but our offense responded with 3 runs of their own. RBI singles from Tyler Clakley and Jeff Schaffert sparked the big inning for us. The game would remain tied at 3 over the next 6 innings (this was the 7 inning game for the weekend), until the 8th inning. Once again, freshman Taylor Henry entered the game for us and escaped a jam, leaving the go-ahead run for ETBU on 3rd base. In the bottom of the inning, Matt Creamer drove home Dan Lazarou, who had been hit by a pitch, with the game winning double. It wasn’t a pretty win, but once again we proved that we can win a close game and finish strong, even when we aren’t at the top of our game. After the first inning, Lance was solid on the mound for us, as he did not allow another run and struck out 6 over 7.1 innings. Taylor Henry was strong in relief and earned the win for us. Matt Creamer played another solid game defensively at shortstop, and Tyler Clakley added another outfield assist to his name, gunning down a runner from right field.

I started “on the bump” for us in game 2 of the day, which was also a 7 inning game. It was a 7 inning game because the previous game, which was supposed to be a 7 inning game, went to extra innings. Due to conference rules, the next game (which was supposed to be a 9 inning game) automatically became a 7 inning game. ETBU struck first, scoring 1 run in the top of the 2nd. Although we fell behind early, our offense once again bounced back and struck right back. We scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 2nd, and 2 in the bottom of the 3rd to take a 5-1 lead. Craig Littleman and Matt Creamer (2 RBI) provided RBI singles in the 2nd inning to provide the 3 runs. In the 3rd, Littleman and Creamer once again tag teamed to score the 2 runs, as Craig drove in a run via a sacrifice fly, and Matty Ice delivered another RBI single. I was able to coast through the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th innings due to great defense. I filled up the strike zone, and just let them put the ball in play to my defense. Matty Creamer made some great plays at shortstop, and the rest of our defense played great as well. We didn’t make any errors defensively, and as a result we had the game under control from the 2nd inning on. We tacked on 3 more runs in the 5th inning to extend our lead to 8-1. Timmy Chhor, who was making his Centenary debut, executed a double steal perfectly and stole home. A Matt Creamer RBI single (yes, another RBI hit for Creamer on the day) and a Ryan Gasporra RBI double closed out the scoring for the day. We ended up winning 8-1, and sweeping the doubleheader from East Texas Baptist. I threw a complete game, striking out 3 and walking 1. I felt confident out there and I have to give credit to our catcher Jeff Schaffert for calling a good game, as well as throwing out a would-be base stealer. Offensively, we were led by Matt Creamer, who went 3 for 4 with 4 RBI. Jemari James also went 2 for 3 in the second game of the doubleheader.

All in all it was a good day at the ballpark for the Gents. Conference games are very important, so it was great to take 2 games from a team on our half of the ASC. We were ready to play on Sunday, but the rain did not allow us to hit the field. Next on the agenda for us is a Tuesday game against Grambling. Grambling is another D1 team, so we know that we will have to play very well in order to compete with them. I always like playing Grambling because I recorded my first collegiate victory as a freshman against them. After that, we have a weekend series against Louisiana College. LC has played pretty well this year, so we will be looking forward to a solid weekend series with the Wildcats.

On Sunday afternoon about 8 of our guys headed over to the field in the pouring rain to participate in a “tarp slide”. Basically, the full infield tarp acts as a gigantic slip n’ slide when it rains. Needless to say, the Sunday storm brought plenty of rain. We enjoyed getting out in the storm and just acting like kids on the tarp. This brings me to my final point this week. Our team chemistry has improved drastically since the beginning of the year. We started off the year with a bunch of new faces, and it took awhile for everyone to get comfortable around their new teammates. Over the last 2 or 3 weeks I have really noticed that our team is truly “gelling” and coming together. All the guys have fun together, and you can really tell that everyone is enjoying their time at the field, on the road, or just around campus with the team. Team chemistry is extremely important to a team’s success, and I believe that our improvement in team chemistry definitely has something to do with the results we are putting up on the field.

On a side note, I would like to thank our athletic trainers, Ellen and Stephanie, for always putting in the time to take care of our guys. We play more games a year than most sports, so our guys are always in the trainer’s room getting steam, ice, heat, or any other type of therapy. I would also like to congratulate Ellen on the birth of her son last week. We appreciate all the work they do to insure that we are in peak playing condition come game day.

Thanks for stopping by to hear about another week of Centenary baseball. Come on by next week to hear about our mid-week game with Grambling, as well as our series with ASC foe Louisiana College. Go Gents!

On the Bump – March 6, 2012

Hello Ladies and Gents and welcome back to another week of “On the Bump”. This week we travelled 6 hours west across Interstate 20 to play a 3 game series with Hardin-Simmons. In this edition of the blog I will talk about our travels to West Texas, our 3 game series with Hardin-Simmons, and our preparation for our game today against Louisiana Tech.

We practiced in Shreveport on Wednesday before heading out to West Texas. However, it rained all morning on Wednesday so our practice plan was limited to ground balls in the infield since we had put the full field tarp on the previous night. We left on Thursday afternoon around 4 PM for Abilene, Texas. We watched Green Lantern, The Mechanic, and Never Back Down on the bus ride. We also stopped for dinner in south Dallas at Denny’s. We arrived in Abilene around 11 PM and settled in for the night. I roomed with Taylor Henry again on the road trip. It was about the same as our rooming situation in San Antonio, except we didn’t really get to freestyle and rap any in Abilene.

We woke up Friday morning at 7:45 AM for breakfast. Typically, I am not a fan of waking up early at all, but this breakfast was definitely a cause for getting out of bed. We stayed at a Hilton, and their breakfast buffet was awesome. We could also order French toast or an Omelet from the grill. After breakfast we headed over to Hardin-Simmons for practice at 10 AM. We ran, stretched, and threw and then took about an hour’s worth of batting practice. Like I said a few weeks ago, we like to practice before a game when we go on the road so that our players get used to the field and surroundings at a ballpark that we visit. After practice we chilled at the hotel and walked around the surrounding areas looking for some lunch.

Game 1 started off with the 2nd batter of the game, Ryan Gasporra, cranking a home run to right field. However, Hardin-Simmons answered with 2 unearned runs off Lance Nugent in the top of the first to take a 2-1 lead. The score stayed 2-1 until the top of the 3rd, when we scratched across 5 runs in the top of the 3rd. Dan Lazarou started off the inning, and was moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt by Matt Creamer. A groundout moved him to third, and then a Tyler Clakley single drove him in. After that, we proceeded to score 4 more runs with 2 outs, with hits coming from Kyle Morton and Jemari James. The score stayed at 6-2 until the Cowboys scored 2 more runs in the top of the 6th to make the score 6-4. However, we answered back and scored 4 runs of our own to take a 10-4 lead. Jemari James keyed the rally with a 2 run single, and Marc Martinez also provided an RBI single. Hardin-Simmons threatened to make it close in the bottom of the 8th, but Taylor Henry entered the game and escaped a bases loaded jam, leaving the score at 10-5. We tacked on another run in the top of the 9th, courtesy of a Tyler Clakley double. The score would end with us on top, 11-5. We received a great start from Lance Nugent, who went 7.2 innings, striking out 11, and only walking 1. Taylor Henry, Trey Guccione, and Peyton Stover all threw well in relief to help close out the game. At the plate, Ryan Gasporra and Tyler Clakley each went 2 for 5, while Jemari James led the offensive charge, going 4 for 5 with a double and a triple. We played OK, but I know we could have played better. We were kind of stagnant in the middle innings, and I would have liked to see us put the game away early rather than in the 8th inning. It is tough to complain after a win, but we aspire to play a high level of baseball, so there is always something to improve on.

We started off game 2 of the series hot, scoring runs on a Kyle Morton single and a Jeff Schaffert double. Game 2 of the series was a 7-inning game, so we knew it was important to take control early. Chase Clarke started on the mound and was magnificent. He carried a no-hitter into the 5th inning, and he ended up throwing 4.2 innings of shutout ball for us. We are lucky he threw well, because after the 1st inning the Hardin-Simmons pitcher put our bats on lock down as well. It was 2-0 in our favor heading into the 7th, and we added 2 more runs (all with 2 outs) in the 7th. Both runs scored via a Tyler Clakley double. Taylor Henry threw the last 2.1 innings, earning the save while only allowing 1 hit. Our pitching and defense did a great job of earning our first shutout of the year. At the plate, Tyler Clakley led the offense attack by going 2 for 4 with 2 RBI.

 

Game 3 started off once again with our offense striking early. A Tyler Clakley RBI single drove home Matt Creamer, who led off the game with a base hit. However, we loaded the bases with 1 out and failed to score, which would prove later to be treacherous. I started on the mound for us, and allowed an unearned run to score off of an errant pick off throw, which tied the game at 1. We pulled in front in the 3rd on an RBI groundout by Jeff Schaffert, but Hardin-Simmons scratched a run across in the 4th to once again tie the game. The game remained tied at 2 until the wheels fell off for us in the 7th. The bottom of the 7th began with an error, and the runner moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt. I allowed 2 singles after that, and then was taken out of the game with us trailing 3-2. We got a quick out and it appeared that we would get out of the inning only trailing by 1, but Hardin-Simmons had other plans. 2 infield singles and a grand slam later, we were down 9-2. It is crazy that a tie game broke open that fast, but that’s baseball. It is a great game, but sometimes it can be cruel. The inning finished with us trailing 10-2, and the game finished with the final score being 10-4. I am proud of our guys for fighting until the last out, as we scored 2 runs in the 9th. Freshman Nick Gobert had his first collegiate hit in the inning, a double to right field. The crazy statistic of the game is that out of Hardin-Simmons 10 runs, only 1 was earned. To summarize that last sentence, our defense and pitching cost us the game. We made 2 crucial errors, and our pitching was unable to pitch over the errors. Last week I talked about our pitchers “pitching over” errors, but this week we were unable to get out of the inning without any damage. Although I struck out 8 while only walking 1 batter, I know that I could have made 2 better pitches in that fateful inning that could have turned things around for us as well. In baseball you must have a short-term memory. You can never ride your highs too long, and you do not want to hang your head after a tough game. I know that our defense and bullpen will bounce back from the tough game and perform better next time. I believe in my teammates, because I know they believe in me as well.

In the end we still left Abilene winning 2 out of 3 for the series. While it was great to win a road series, I know the guys were disappointed to have our 7 game win streak snapped. Hardin-Simmons was one of the better teams on that side of the Conference, so in that aspect it was nice to know we could win a series against a quality team while playing nowhere near our best brand of baseball. We headed back to Shreveport after the game, arriving around 1:30 AM on Sunday morning.

 

Today (Tuesday) we will take on Louisiana Tech. It is one of 3 games against Division 1 opponents this season, so I know our guys are pumped up for the game. I would be lying to you if I told you that it was just a normal game. A lot of our guys have not gotten to play against Division 1 teams (we played a D1 schedule the last 2 years), so they are excited to see how they compare against the highest level of amateur baseball in America. Not to mention that several of our players know some of the players for Louisiana Tech. However, our goal is to treat it like any other game. Yes, Louisiana Tech beat a NCAA powerhouse program last week when they defeated Vanderbilt 9-3, but we just need to play our game. Once the first pitch is thrown, it is just another baseball game. We will not win unless we execute at the plate, on the mound, and in the field. It would be great if we could get a big crowd over to Shehee Stadium for the 6 PM start time.

This weekend we open ASC East (our half of the conference) play against East Texas Baptist. However, stay posted on the game times because a lot of rain is in the forecast this weekend for the Shreveport area. Follow us on Twitter @CentGents to receive the latest news, scores, and rain delay updates.

Stop by next week to hear how our game with Louisiana Tech went, as well as our 3 game series against East Texas Baptist. Thanks for stopping by to read the blog. Go Gents!

 

On the Bump – February 28, 2012

Hello everyone and welcome back to the post-Mardi Gras break edition of “On the Bump”. We are slowly getting back into the flow of going to classes again after a relaxing week off from school. This week we will take a look at how we spent our spare time over the break, how we played in our 3 game series against McMurry, and briefly discuss our upcoming series with ASC opponent Hardin-Simmons.

It was great to have the past week off from school. The time off gave all of our guys a chance to rest, relax, and just focus on baseball for a week. We started practiced at 2:30 in the afternoon each day of the break, which is about 3 hours earlier than our practice time when school is in session. The 2:30 PM practice time was great because it gave us a chance to sleep in a little bit, and then the practices would finish around 6 at the latest. Another reason I loved the break was that the school cafeteria was closed; therefore the coaches fed us lunch and dinner each day. We typically had sandwiches for lunch, and for dinner we either ate somewhere in town or enjoyed burgers and hot dogs cooked and prepared by the coaching staff.

As for the actual practices, things went fairly smooth. You could definitely tell that the energy level was a little higher than normal. I think this is definitely attributed to the fact that we did not have classes and homework hanging over our heads. One thing that we need to improve on is our depth. Our second team struggled in our scrimmages with their defense a little bit. I know they are young, but you are only as good as your weakest link. If a starter is injured or unable to play, we need those guys to be able to jump into the lineup and produce immediately. Our pitchers did a better job of attacking the strike zone and challenging hitters in our midweek scrimmage. The number of walks likely decreased because Coach Stephens (our pitching coach) told us that we would have to run 10 poles for every walk we had.

We started off game 1 of the series on Friday night with Lance Nugent on the mound. I know that one of Lance’s coaches from back home passed away during the week, so this game had some extra meaning to it for Lance because he wanted to dedicate it to him. The game started off a little shaky as McMurry hit back-to-back doubles to start the game and take a 1-0 lead. In the top of the 2nd, McMurry struck for 2 unearned runs to extend their lead to 3-0. After the 2nd inning, Lance put the McMurry bats on lockdown. We snuck a run across in the bottom of the 2nd as Jemari James scored on a Nic Parrott double. Ryan Gasporra led off the bottom of the 3rd with a triple, and he scored a few pitches later on a wild pitch. Nugent threw a 1-2-3 top of the 4th, which swung more momentum in our direction, and we took the lead for good by scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the 4th. Singles by Marc Martinez and Nic Parrott allowed a ground-rule double by Matt Creamer to plate 1, and a RBI groundout by Ryan Gasporra gave us a 4-3 lead. Tyler Clakley singled home Creamer, and we never really looked back from that point. We tacked on another run in the bottom of the 8th on a Ryan Gasporra double to make it 6-3, and that was the final score. Nugent threw a complete game for us, while striking out 10. He could have folded after they scored 3 in the first 2 innings, but instead he battled and kept us in the game. At the plate, Matt Creamer, Ryan Gasporra, Tyler Clakley, Marc Martinez, and Nic Parrott had multi-hit games for us. I found several positives from the opening game with McMurry. One, Nic Parrott played very well in centerfield and at the plate while filling in for an injured player. Parrott did not get many “reps” with the starters throughout the fall, as he was one of our better pitchers. However, he did an excellent job of filling in for a player when we needed him. As I said earlier, we are only as good as our weakest link. In this case, Parrott came through clutch when we needed him. He could have used excuses or been discouraged by not practicing much with the starters, but he fought hard and earned himself a spot and he took advantage of the opportunity. Another thing I enjoyed was Lance Nugent’s performance on the mound. Lance is a senior pitcher for us, but this is his first year to play for Centenary. He played at 2 Junior Colleges before playing at LSU-Shreveport, and eventually joining us at Centenary. He has been through some adversity in his personal life the past year, including the passing of his old high school coach in the past week. However, he has always shown up with a great attitude and a team first mentality. On Friday night, he proved to everyone in attendance and who follows Centenary baseball that he can make a big impact for our team on the mound. I know it meant a lot to him, especially considering the fact that he did not get to play last spring. He has been waiting about 2 years to prove that he can pitch at that level, so I know Friday’s game meant a lot to Lance. I asked Lance what the game meant to him, and he replied, “I went out and performed the best that I know how. My high school pitching coach, Terry Matthews, passed away Friday. He played a very important role in my personal life and baseball career. He played 13 years in the Major Leagues and I knew he was there helping me pitch on Friday. I am glad I was given the opportunity to continue my baseball career at Centenary and fight for my dream”.

We came out on Saturday ready to play 2 games against McMurry. We knew the series was far from over, because the series could be won or lost on Saturday regardless of the outcome of Friday night’s game. The first game would be a 7 inning game, followed by a 9 inning game in the nightcap of the doubleheader. The first game on Saturday started out awesome, as Chase Clarke threw a scoreless first inning. We proceeded to load the bases with no outs in the bottom half of the inning. However, we were only able to scratch out 1 run. We knew we needed to score more than 1, but nobody knew we would not score again until the 6th inning. It just goes to show that we really need to capitalize when opposing pitchers walk hitters and give us free base runners. McMurry scored 1 in the 3rd inning, and the score was 1-1 going into the 5th inning. In the top of the 5th, McMurry loaded the bases with no outs. At this point, freshman Peyton Stover was on the mound for us. He induced a sharply hit ground ball to 3rd base, which Marc Martinez did a great job of “bodying up” on. By “bodying up” the ball, I mean he basically sacrificed his body and allowed the hard hit ball to bounce off him so that he could make a play. He picked the ball up, and threw the runner out at home. With 1 out and the bases still loaded, we called on freshman lefty Taylor Henry to get us out of the jam. On his first pitch, he induced a 4-6-3 double play ball to allow us to escape the inning unscathed. Like I said last week, some of our freshman pitchers are growing up fast by being thrown into big situations. Unfortunately, McMurry executed a suicide squeeze in the top of the 6th to take a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the 6th, our bats woke up as Kyle Morton led off the inning with a double, Jeff Schaffert walked, and then Jemari James moved the runners over with his second successful sacrifice bunt of the game. A strikeout brought Craig Littleman to the plate with 2 outs and runners at second and third. He smacked a single into centerfield, scoring 2 runs to put us ahead 3-2. However, McMurry once again proved that they would not go away easily as they tied the game at 3 in the top of the 7th. Matt Creamer singled with 1 out to start our rally in the bottom of the 7th, then Ryan Gasporra doubled which put runners on second and third. Tyler Clakley came up big once again; driving a pitch off the wall in centerfield and providing us with a walk-off 4-3 win. Unlike our previous series against Trinity, we battled back and finished strong. I know we didn’t play great the first 6 innings, but great teams always find a way to win in the end. At the plate, Matt Creamer led us with 2 hits, while Jemari James played a key role by laying down 2 sacrifice bunts. On the mound, freshmen Chase Clarke, Peyton Stover, and Taylor Henry used a combined effort to keep us in the game.

We took the momentum from the first game of the doubleheader and carried it right over to game 2. I started on the mound for us. My goal was to do whatever I possibly could to help our team earn a series sweep. The top of the 1st was a little slippery as an error allowed McMurry to place runners at 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. However, I struck out the batter to end the inning. After the game, coach Stephens pointed out that this was a key point in the game because I pitched over the mistake by our defense. He said that sometimes a pitcher has to “pick up” his defense because they pick up the pitchers a lot with their great defense and potent bats. Matt Creamer started off the bottom of the 1st with a walk, and Ryan Gasporra quickly made his way to first base after a hit by pitch. Kyle Morton made the pitcher pay for his mistakes, by launching a 3 run homer to deep right center. We tacked on 4 more runs in the second inning, highlighted by a Tyler Clakley 3 run bomb to right field. Ryan Gasporra also blasted a home run in the 4th inning. In fact, our offense brought the big boy bats for game 3 of the series as they scored in every single inning. After 5 innings, the score was 10-2 in our favor. We tacked on 5 more runs in the bottom of the 6th and eventually won after 7 innings via the mercy rule, 15-2. I finished the game with 10 strikeouts, while pitching all 7 innings. I will say that pitching is a lot easier when you know that your offense is going to put up big numbers for you like that. It allowed me to really attack the hitters and pound the strike zone. I also had some great defense behind me, as a Jeff Schaffert to Matt Creamer to Ryan Gasporra relay system nailed a runner at home as he tried to score on a ball hit to left field. One thing that stood out to me about the final game of the series was that every single one of our starters recorded a hit. Marc Martinez went 2 for 4 with 2 doubles and 3 RBI, while Nic Parrott went 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI as well. Matt Creamer and Jemari James also had doubles, while Gasporra, Clakley, and Morton all had home runs. Also, freshman Christian Sebastien made his Centenary debut and contributed with a hard hit groundball for an RBI.

Overall, I was happy with the series. We started off conference play with a sweep, and our bats really came alive in the final game. McMurry is historically a very good team in the ASC, so I think we started out on a good note. However, next week we travel to Abilene to take on Hardin-Simmons. They were selected to finish 2nd on their side of the conference in the pre-season poll, so we know we can’t take them lightly. Also, we have a home game next Tuesday against Divison 1 Louisiana Tech. It is our only home game against a D1 opponent this season, so I hope we get a great turnout. Stop by next week to hear about our trek into West Texas as we take on Hardin-Simmons. Thanks to everyone who came out this weekend to support us! Go Gents!

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