Archive for March, 2012
Hello!!!! It almost seems like I have been in a mid-season slump with my blogging. I do wish I would write more often, but honestly, by the end of my day I am too drained to do anything other than eat and go to bed. I do have some pretty good things that have been on my mind throughout the past 3 weeks. Our squad is 22-8, ranked anywhere between 4th-11th in the respected ranking. CBL has us ranked 4th, much appreciated, but doesn’t really mean a lot to the guys on the team. I think being ranked 1st last year was a great accomplishment, but being ranked #1 at the end of the year was much sweeter!
Justin Bennett digging deep for the team.
Clever, I know. But April is the time of the season where you either make a difference, or start planning for next year. Play your way into a regional, or force yourself to win the conference to get into a regional. Our goal, as always, has been to host the regional again. We are still in a good position, we obviously need to take care of business down the stretch. We have 18 games left, we need at least 15 wins for a realistic chance to host, with a little help from whoever is playing North Alabama. We just need to play our “Argo Ball” and let the chips fall where they may.
What do I mean by “April Tools”?
Leadership? That’s part of it. Coach told us today, “Leadership is doing your part to make everyone better”. I am a leader. Am I a stud on the field, HECK NO! 99% chance I don’t throw an inning this year, I don’t deserve it. I haven’t done anything good enough to get on the field. Does that mean I sit like a bump on a log at the end of the dugout trying to find someone to pity me? HECK NO! I do whatever I can to HELP my teammates get better because they are the ones that are going to help put another ring on my finger. There are plenty of ways to do that. How have I done it? I hit fungos to my infielders. If they want extra work, I wouldn’t hesitate to hit balls until my hands bleed.
Recently our team has had trouble hitting curve balls or sliders. A pitching machine is great practice, having a consistent slider coming in every time, but as all hitters know, when you KNOW a slider is coming you take a different approach. So, I have been down in the cages throwing BP mix to anyone who wants to do something different than hitting off a tee. I don’t tell them what is coming, either fastball or slider. I’m not contributing on the field, why not throw to the hitters to help them recognize a slider? It’s amazing that even from 45 feet away, NOT knowing what is coming can completely fool a hitter. After a few rounds, they start picking it up, they start making adjustments. THEY ARE GETTING BETTER! What did I mention about leadership above… “Leadership is doing your part to make everybody better”.
Leadership is letting Jake Stephens use your glove, then dominating!
Make a difference, do something everyday that you can look back and say, “I helped him get better today”. Maybe you can’t hit fungos or throw BP… You can watch your fellow pitchers, remind them what your coach has been telling them to work on. Yesterday, Eric Sloan was pitching in an intersquad game. He did a good job, but with a runner on 2nd his tempo was slower to the plate. If there was a fast runner on base, they could have walked into 3rd. Sorry Sloaner! ha It was something I recognized, and something I know Coach Jeffcoat has talked to him about. When I told him, he appreciated the critique and worked on it today.
I’m just giving my input on what I do. Be a leader, use each practice to help someone get better! Be unselfish, be uncommon!
The Argos welcome Delta State to Pensacola this weekend. We can’t look past any game, or any series. Game 1 is the most important game until we get to game 2. The series is at home, and I’m excited to see how our team comes out to compete against a great team. Our goal is to host, what are we going to do to make that a reality? I’ll let you know after this weekend!
Wish us luck!
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New Argo Pregame Pump Up!
The #1 Gators won two of three standing room only games at Carolina as they bested the Gamecocks in a rematch of last year’s championship series. With the wins UF has now captured 32 of its last 36 series. U of F seems to be on a championship collision course with #2 Stanford who won two of three against USC. The softhanded Cardinal had a .976 fielding percentage and 15 errors over the first 17 games, but seven of eight runs in the Trojan’s victory were unearned, as Stanford committed six errors.
#3 Arkansas, #4 Florida State and #5 North Carolina each remained in their respective positions from the week before despite losing a game. The Razorbacks took two of three fromMississippiState, FSU had a pair of wins over a reeling Stetson and won two of three overWakeForest and the ‘Heels won their series over NC State.
#6 Miami moved up a spot to the six position vacated by the fallen #9 South Carolina Gamecocks who drop three rungs. It seems like a raw deal to drop USC three spots because they didn’t win their series over Gators. I don’t think anyone outside of Columbia, SC believed Carolina was going to win two over the Gators. #7 Texas A&M also moved up one position in lieu of USC after sweeping Pepperdine.
#8 UCLA moved up three positions after winning the first two of three withWashingtonState. The Bruins lost the last game of the series which was Monday. Had the rankings been complied after the loss I doubt UCLA would have moved into the top ten. I certainly wouldn’t have put them there. I’m a bit shocked that the Bruins are listed at six in a different poll. They had the series win overArizona St, but other than that they haven’t done much to impress. I’ve felt Georgia had been overrated from the jump so I wouldn’t hand that series sweep on mom’s fridge if I was them.
Rounding out the top ten is #10 Kentucky who lost their first game of the year when they took two of three fromTennessee. I saw the Wildcats are ranked #2 in a different poll. I’m assuming that’s the coach’s rankings. That’s a bit generous don’t you think? I wouldn’t take the ‘Cats over any team in the top ten and would pick a handful of other clubs including Rice, LSU and Fullerton. Don’t get me wrong, I thinkKentucky is a great team, I’m just not ready to put them among the elite yet. Number ten is good spot for them. The Wildcats are awesome on the basepaths, stealing 28 of 34 and have also dominated in the field with a .980 fielding percentage.
#11 Rice had a loss to Lamar and won two of three over Memphis which dropped them two spots. #12 Cal State Fullerton went two the opposite direction when they won two of three over Oral Roberts.
#13 Arizona fell out of the top ten after losing two games to a surprisingly spry New Mexico State, but they did win two of three over #18 Oregon State to keep from falling too far down the rankings.
I still have some weird hunch #14 LSU is going to make it back toOmaha this season. Maybe its because I used to have a bromantic crush on Ben McDonald when I was growing up. I don’t know. Nevertheless, the Tigers fell two places losing a series atAuburn. For what its worth, both of the losses were by a single run and one of them was in extra innings. Big showdown for the Bayou Bengals this week when they hostArkansas. I expect LSU to take two of three.
#15 Arizona State moved up three spots after winning a series overCal. I had big hopes forCal going into the season, but they’ve been knocked out of the rankings. Perhaps ASU wasn’t the better team, but wanted it more since they can’t get to the postseason.
I’m still not drinking the #16 UCF Kool-Aid. When it comes to ConferenceUSA teams, I’d pick ECU over the Knights. Which is dumb because UCF just took two of three from the Pirates. The games were inOrlando however, so that kinda makes the 2-1 win UCF had in the opener a push. UCF doesn’t play another team in the top thirty until the last series of the season so I expect them to compete for a regional hosting position, but they’ll need to win that last series over the Owls and finish in the top two in the C-USA tournament to have a chance.
#17 Louisville had a crushing 20-0 win overOhioState last week. They also sweptCincinnati. Nevertheless I still feel U of L is very overrated. It’s a small sample size, but the Cardinals are 1-3 in four games against ranked teams this year. Their wins have been compiled against the likes ofOakland, Eastern Illinois and Ball State. Meh.
#18 Georgia lost two of three at unranked Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs are overrated, the Commodores are underrated.
I don’t like #20 Oregon being ranked in top 20. Not the top 30 either. Haven’t all season. Last week they one two of three overUtah. They playTexasState twice and have three against Arizona State. I fully expect the Ducks to come away with a single win this week.
What’s wrong with #21 Georgia Tech? They lost a game to instate rivalGeorgia and then lost two of three toBostonCollege. I thought their bats were better than that.
#22 Ole Miss had a bitter 10-0 loss to Southern Miss and won two of three atAlabama. I’ve been thinking all year the Rebels were a team better positioned in the 30-40 range. I’m sticking with that, but hope I’m wrong because I’m anxiously awaiting a Mississippi invasion of Omaha.
#23 Texas has only seven homeruns this season. Not known for their hitting, but seriously… They narrowly won a series overKansasState last week.
#24 Oklahoma had two wins over Air Force and won a series over Texas Tech. For that they moved up three spots?
#25 Purdue is number one in the College Baseball Lineup midmajor rankings. If you don’t think the Big Ten is not a mid major in college baseball you’re uninformed. I’m probably wrong, but I don’t think a Big 10 team has made it to the College World Series since Barry Larkin played atMichigan. Two of three overOhioState last week.
There were on the cusp of falling out of the rankings, but #26 Virginia moved up four spots after sweeping Clemson. No way the Cavs make it back to Omaha this year. They are rebuilding. Watch this week’s series with #27 NC State. Whichever team loses the series will get knocked out of the rankings. The Pack are barely hanging on after losing a ECU and a series at North Carolina.
New to the rankings are #28 Baylor, #29 San Diego and #30 Coastal Carolina. I don’t have a whole lot to say about any of these clubs other than I’m surprised to see USD and CCU make the list. Personally, I’d take their conference foes Gonzaga and Liberty before them. Baylor is decent, but didn’t do much to earn their spot last week. They had wins over Texas Tech, Sam Houston State and Kansas.
National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association
2012 Division II polls: March 27
ATLANTIC REGION TOP 10
Rk School (#1 votes) W-L Pts. Prev.
1. West Chester, Pa. (9) 16-1 125 3
2. Seton Hill, Pa. (2) 18-6 110 2
3. Mercyhurst, Pa. (2) 17-7 102 1
4. Kutztown, Pa. 18-5 90 5
5. East Stroudsburg, Pa. 17-6 85 4
6. Shippensburg, Pa. 18-11 69 7
7. California, Pa. 14-12 43 8
8. Winston-Salem St., N.C. 20-15 25 9
9. Shepherd, W. Va. 14-10 24 RV
T10. Gannon, Pa. 14-10 16 NR
Dropped out: #6 Millersville, Pa.; #10 Charleston, W. Va.
Also receiving votes: Millersville, Pa. (12-12) 13 points; PittJohnstown, Pa. (13-11) 4 points; Charleston, W. Va. (12-11) 2
points; West Virginia Wesleyan (12-12) 2 points; Concord, W.
Va. (12-15) 1 point; Virginia State (13-11) 1 point.
CENTRAL REGION TOP 10
Rk School (#1 votes) W-L Pts. Prev.
1. St. Cloud State (7) 18-5 79 1
2. Minnesota State (1) 13-3 72 3
3. Colorado Mesa 19-7 64 4
4. New Mexico Highlands 18-7 47 2
5. Colorado State-Pueblo 15-11 44 9
6. Wayne State, Neb. 12-6 44 6
7. Augustana, S.D. 9-6 32 7
8. Southwest Minn. State 10-5 22 8
9. Bemidji State, Minn. 10-8 21 RV
10. Winona State, Minn. 6-9 7 10
Dropped out: #5 Concordia, Minn.
Also receiving votes: Concordia, Minn. (9-7) 6 points;
Nebraska Kearney (9-15) 3 points; Upper Iowa (7-10) 1 point.
EAST REGION TOP 10
Rk School (#1 votes) W-L Pts. Prev.
1. So. New Hampshire (9) 21-2 90 1
2. LeMoyne, N.Y. 16-4-1 77 3
3. So. Connecticut State 17-6 75 2
4. Stonehill, Mass. 14-8 51 6
5. Franklin Pierce, N.H. 12-9 47 4
6. St. Thomas Aquinas, N.Y. 15-8 42 7
7. UMass Lowell 12-7-1 39 8
8. New Haven, Conn. 11-5 30 10
9. Wilmington, Del. 12-9 25 5
10. Adelphi, N.Y. 9-8 9 9
Dropped out: None.
Also received votes: Bloomfield, N.J. (11-9) 3 points; Nyack,
N.Y. (12-7) 3 points; Dowling, N.Y. (12-10) 2 points; Pace, N.Y.
(9-10) 2 points.
MIDWEST REGION TOP 10
Rk School (#1 votes) W-L Pts. Prev.
1. Missouri S&T (8) 15-4 80 2
2. Grand Valley State, Mich. 11-7 66 1
3. Wayne State, Mich. 12-5 66 4
4, Southern Indiana 13-8 57 3
5. Drury, Mo. 12-8 47 5
6. Northwood, MIch. 11-4 44 6
7. Lewis, Mo. 12-6 27 7
8. Northern Kentucky 13-9 24 10
9. Ashland, Ohio 10-8 13 8
10. Quincy, Ill. 12-8 12 RV
Dropped out: #9 Rockhurst, Mo.
Also receiving votes: Rockhurst, Mo. (10-9) 2 points; Kentucky
Wesleyan (12-8) 1 point; Bellarmine, Ky. (12-7) 1 point.
SOUTH REGION TOP 10
Rk School (#1 votes) W-L Pts. Prev.
1. North Alabama (5) 23-7 68 1
2. Tampa, Fla. (2) 22-5 63 2
3. West Florida 22-8 53 T3
4. Lynn, Fla. 20-8 46 6
5. Delta State, Miss. 17-7 42 T3
6. Nova Southeastern, Fla. 17-5 41 5
7. Rollins, Fla. 18-8 18 8
8. Florida Tech 17-12 17 7
9. West Georgia 17-11 12 10
10. Valdosta State, Ga. 15-9 11 RV
Dropped out: #9 Saint Leo.
Also receiving votes: Saint Leo, Fla. (18-11) 7 points; Barry,
Fla. (14-11) 4 points; Benedict, S.C. (16-4) 3 points.
SOUTH CENTRAL REGION TOP 10
Rk School (#1 votes) W-L Pts. Prev.
1. St. Mary’s, Texas (5) 25-5 59 2
2. Angelo State, Texas 21-7 41 3
3. Central Missouri (1) 17-5 40 1
T4. Emporia State, Kans. 14-7 35 T4
T4. West Texas A&M 19-5 35 T4
6. Texas A&M-Kingsville 15-7 27 6
7. St. Edward’s, Texas 18-6 26 10
8. Missouri Western 15-7 13 RV
9. Southeastern Oklahoma 17-9 11 RV
T10. Southwestern Oklahoma 16-8 9 RV
T10. Southern Arkansas 18-10 9 RV
Dropped out: #7 Harding, Ark.; #8 Newman, Kans.; #9
Also receiving votes: Newman, Kans. (17-10), Missouri
Southern (17-7), Washburn, Kans. (12-7), Harding, Ark. (18-
11), East Central, Okla. (20-12).
SOUTHEAST REGION TOP 10
Rk School (#1 votes) W-L Pts. Prev.
1. Tusculum, Tenn. (4) 27-5 99 2
2. Catawba, N.C. (3) 26-7 97 1
3. Mount Olive, N.C. (3) 23-6 86 5
4. USC Aiken 22-8 74 4
5. Lander, S.C. 23-8 73 3
6. Armstrong Atlantic, Ga. 20-7 51 7
7. Columbus State, Ga. 20-11 32 9
8. Belmont Abbey, N.C. 23-12 30 8
9. Flagler, Fla. 18-10 17 6
10. UNC Pembroke 20-10 12 RV
Dropped out: #10 North Greenville, S.C.
Also receiving votes: North Greenville, S.C. (20-11) 11 points;
Francis Marion, S.C. (20-11) 9 points; Georgia College (17-11)
7 points; Wingate, N.C., (22-14) 4 points; Young Harris, Ga.
(21-8) 3 points.
WEST REGION TOP 10
Rk School (#1 votes) W-L Pts. Prev.
1. Chico State, Calf. (6) 22-7 69 1
2. Cal Baptist (1) 25-6 63 2
3. Western Oregon 18-7 56 4
4. Sonoma State, Calif. 15-9 41 7
5. Hawaii Pacific 17-5 40 5
T6. Cal Poly Pomona 17-10 36 3
T6. Dixie State, Utah 18-8 36 6
T8. Cal State San Bernardino 12-9 12 9
T8. Cal State Stanislaus 15-11 12 NR
10. UC San Diego 14-14 9 10
Dropped out: #8 Cal State Monterey Bay.
Others receiving votes: Northwest Nazarene, Idaho (15-11)
6 points; San Francisco State, Calif. (11-12) 4 points; Cal State
Monterey Bay (15-15) 1 point.
National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association
2012 Division II polls: March 27
NATIONAL TOP 25
Rk School (#1 votes) W-L Pts. Prev.
1. North Alabama (3) 23-7 329 4
2. St. Mary’s, Texas (7) 25-5 328 T2
3. Tusculum, Tenn. (2) 27-5 306 9
4. Tampa, Fla. 22-5 300 6
5. St. Cloud State, Minn. 18-5 269 8
6. Chico State, Calif. (1) 22-7 268 5
7. Southern New Hampshire (1) 21-2 265 7
8. West Chester, Pa. 16-1 242 23
9. Catawba, N.C. 26-7 225 T2
10. Angelo State, Texas 21-7 214 16
11. West Florida 22-8 209 15
T12. Missouri S&T 15-4 179 21
T13. Cal Baptist 25-6 179 13
14. Central Missouri 17-5 152 1
15. Minnesota State 13-3 151 22
16. Mount Olive, N.C. 23-6 127 RV
17. Seton Hill, Pa. 18-6 103 17
18. Lynn, Fla. 20-8 96 RV
19. LeMoyne, N.Y. 16-4-1 94 RV
20. Grand Valley State, Mich. 11-7 68 10
T21. USC Aiken 22-8 62 NR
T21. Western Oregon 18-7 62 RV
23. Delta State, Miss. 17-7 61 T11
24. Mercyhurst, Pa. 17-7 50 T11
25. Lander, S.C. 23-8 38 19
Dropped out: #14 Southern Connecticut State, #18
New Mexico Highlands; #20 Cal Poly Pomona; #24 Nova
Southeastern, Fla.; #25 Southern Indiana.
Also receiving votes: Southern Connecticut State (17-6) 32
points; Nova Southeastern, Fla. (17-5) 30 points; Colorado
Mesa (19-7) 28 points; Emporia State, Kans. (14-7) 21 points;
West Texas A&M (19-5) 14 points; Armstrong Atlantic, Ga.
(20-7) 10 points; Wayne State, Mich. (12-5) 9 points; Sonoma
State, Calif. (15-9) 9 points; Hawaii Pacific (17-5) 6 points;
Kutztown, Pa. (18-5) 6 points; East Stroudsburg, Pa. (17-6) 5
points; New Mexico Highlands (18-7) 1 point.
2012 Division I Baseball Attendance
Compiled by Tami Cutler, Wichita State Athletic Media Relation
By Average (min. 1,200)
School Avg. Total #
1. LSU 10,361 196,874 19
2. Arkansas 7,740 147,074 19
3. South Carolina 7,392 133,071 18
4. Ole Miss 7,012 119,217 17
5. Mississippi State 5,979 101,652 17
6. Texas 5,952 53,572 9
7. Clemson 4,647 65,061 14
8. TCU 4,546 40,921 9
9. Florida State 4,516 67,744 15
10. Texas A&M 4,201 88,229 21
11. Florida 3,696 66,545 18
12. Southern Miss 3,502 49,038 14
13. Alabama 3,451 51,775 15
14. Rice 3,266 48,998 15
15. Hawaii 3,184 57,325 18
16. Nebraska 2,950 47,212 16
17. Virginia 2,896 46,336 16
18. East Carolina 2,885 40,394 14
19. Tulane 2,803 50,463 18
20. Texas Tech 2,795 44,720 16
21. Auburn 2,793 47,491 17
22. Miami, Fla. 2,717 48,921 18
23. Baylor 2,688 45,705 17
24. Wichita State 2,616 41,859 16
25. Stanford 2,332 25,656 11
26. Louisiana-Lafayette 2,211 26,539 12
27. Vanderbilt 2,128 34,063 16
28. Arizona 1,887 35,859 19
29. Georgia 1,857 39,013 21
30. Fresno State 1,788 30,398 17
31. Tennessee 1,764 28,229 16
32. Arizona State 1,757 22,843 13
33. Cal State Fullerton 1,699 23,792 14
34. Louisiana-Monroe 1,670 26,733 16
35. Oregon State 1,648 9,888 6
36. Creighton 1,630 6,520 4
37. New Mexico 1,590 25,444 16
38. Texas State 1,478 16,268 11
39. Kentucky 1,473 26,521 18
40. Oregon 1,469 14,690 10
41. UCF 1,451 31,940 22
42. Georgia Southern 1,404 16,857 12
43. South Alabama 1,319 13,187 10
44. Georgia Tech 1,318 14,499 11
45. Troy 1,296 12,967 10
46. Long Beach State 1,216 13,380 11
PSAC Standings as of March 27:
Slippery Rock 3-5
Lock Haven 3-5
West Chester 4-0
East Stroudsburg 3-1
I first want to apologize for the lack of postings the past couple of weeks… the grind of the season sometimes saps my energy, as well as a hectic travel schedule. Our season has been a bit of a roller coaster and right now we are on a down swing. The way the game humbles you is what makes baseball so unique and different than the other major sports. The game has a way of breaking you down before it lets you build back up.
Before we started the UC San Diego and Chico State back to back road trips, we were nationally ranked for this first time and excited to hit the road and prove our worth against the traditional powers in our conference. By all accounts, we held our own. We lost a very tough series against UCSD but believed a couple of the games were there for the taking. The Chico State series got pushed back into early last week because of the rain. We jumped out 2 games to 0 and was up 3-0 in the 3rd inning of Game 3. We were thinking in our minds that we might have a chance to sweep the road series, then 1 bad inning happened and we dropped the next two games. Splitting on the road with Chico is still a desirable result, so we felt good about our position in the standings and our upcoming schedule.
With only two days before our series with CSU Stanislaus, the short week proved to be an issue for our tired team. We played the worst baseball of the past two years and was swept by a red-hot Stanislaus squad that thoroughly outplayed us. On Monday of last week we were in the middle of Game 3 against Chico thinking about a sweep and how we were going to take control of our standings in conference, and then on Sunday we are licking our wounds and wondering what happened to that team. The past 6 days have proven the fragility of life in our rugged conference and you have to prepare and play your best baseball everyday to have a chance.
We still believe in our players and we are in this for the long haul. We need to refocus, reenergize, prepare better, and become a tougher group. We will do those things. The game of baseball has given us a punch to the gut, but we are confident our guys are ready to get back up and fight back. We play an upstart Cal State East Bay squad that will prove to be a challenge. If we take care of business and play the baseball we are capable of, we hope to find ourselves right back in the mix at this time next week.
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!
Week Five and Six Blog
If you have been following our season, we are midway through our Shippensburg series, which is the second of 6 conference series that we play in the PSAC. Currently, we are 12-10 (2-4 PSAC) and have been on a little bit of a skid as of late. Its been an interesting year and even with the fact that we are not playing up to everyone else’s expectations, we have two things going for us right now: we are healthy and we still have a very good team. No, we have not played up to our potential. Confidence is down right now and things have not gone our way in many situations. We have not exactly put ourselves in situations to win, either. But heck, that is baseball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes it rains. Being a fifth year head coach, I am continuing to learn. And, like the last four seasons, I look at this season, so far, as another checkpoint or evaluation point that provides data on where we need to get better. Tonight, I am not giving up; I am looking for ways to build confidence and improve our program—we are going to get over this hurdle, just like we have gotten over hurdles that have been much higher over the past five years.
The toughest part of coaching a group that is under achieving is to let go. My goal and our staff’s goal, is to build confidence in any way, shape of form that we can, day in and day out.. Letting go of control is one of the hardest things we, as head coaches, have to do. We want to do it for them and we know we cannot. So when they screw up, which they always will do, eventually, we over coach and say things like, “catch the ball” and, “you shoulda hit that pitch” and, “throw strikes.” At which point, our players say in their heads, “Thanks coach; I was trying to drop it, swing and miss or walk that guy.” We want to tell them what they did wrong, making the sting of their failure, even worse. There is a difference between the dialogue above and teaching. Teaching provides helpful information. There is a difference between the above and, “here is how to improve.” We tell teammates to pick up their teammates, but we forget to do it as coaches. We dwell on failure, just as we harp on our kids not to. At this point, I committing myself to teaching—when we fail, I am going to be the first to say “So what.” Then I am going to teach.
We revisited our goals tonight and they have not changed. They are just as high as they were at the beginning of the season, just as high as they were when the last pitch of last season was thrown and most importantly, I still have confidence in our kids to get the job done. I believe in our kids, our staff and our process. Again, the pieces of the puzzle are healthy—the only question is if and when we stop under achieving and begin playing the Marauder way.
Here are a few positives from today’s double-header. Dan Johnson, a guy who deals with physical adversity day in and day out in his life, hit a HR and a triple that with a throwing error, turned into a little league homerun. He finished the double header with 3 more knocks, which should push his average over .340. His Quality Plate Appearance Percentage (the only offensive stat that I really actually care about) is through the roof right now, telling me that he could be hitting a lot better than .340. The kid has been flat our productive. The triple he hit today was definitely the most memorable play of the season thus far. I am a sucker for guys who play hard day in and day out. This kids does. Dan Johnson has established himself as a hard-nosed kid who isn’t flashy but gets it done daily and he does it with grit. He’s a guy our team should feed off of. Brooks Rothschild, coming into today’s game, was 5-0. He lost today, but has been lights out week after week. He is now 17-3 in the past two seasons. No flash, no 90 mph fastballs or filthy breaking balls, just grit.
Just like every other challenge that our program has faced over the past four years, we will figure out how to overcome our slow start this season, which has now bled into mid-season. Everyone knows the old cliché: its not how you start, its how you finish. I will add to that: who cares how you start or how you finish? The only thing we control is tomorrow’s first pitch and then when that is over, we need to focus on winning the following one. We have about 5600 more pitches to go. The downhill race to the post season has now begun.
Thanks for reading,
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!
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