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Archive for March, 2012

Building the Brand

I’m gonna go a little off topic here today. Normally I prattle on about some crazy game situation our guys got themselves into, or stat-geek numbers that probably only three people care about, but I feel compelled to share a new tangent this time. As anyone who has read this blog before knows, we are a new program here at SeattleU. This is our third year of existence after a roughly 30 year hiatus. With that comes a huge need for exposure and “selling the brand.” For our coaching and support staff, that means just about everything we do has that goal in mind. Whether we are out recruiting, working a camp, talking to the press, or blogging, we are constantly pushing the SeattleU brand. Getting people to take notice is perhaps the biggest priority we have. We are in a large metropolitan area, and one of only two Division I schools in the city, yet there are still people who are unaware that we are back at Division I or even that we have a baseball program again! We have to change that!

One of the challenges we face in this process is the balancing act we have between honoring and connecting with the past traditions here and the push to raise the profile of the new wave. Our old identity, when we were known as the Chieftains, is loaded with success and and alums chomping at the bit to reconnect. Our new identity, however, is built around a new name, the Redhawks, new conference affiliations and rivals, and a different, off-campus facility. How do we embrace the gems of our past, people like Eddie and Johnny O’Brien, the former two-sport stars at SeattleU who went on to become the first double brother double play combo in the big leagues, while at the same time selling this new name and brand? It’s an interesting and challenging task, but certainly an exciting one. For their part, our alumni base has been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic, donating time, money, and expertise to our myriad of projects, even if they do long a wee bit for the old Chieftain mascot to make a return.

Technology is one of the major ways we are attempting to push the SeattleU brand ahead. We don’t have a huge media or marketing budget (or even a small one to be honest) so we have to get creative with the avenues we reach out to our fans, both current and future. We have certainly jumped into the social media pool, though we are still learning the ropes. Twitter has been big for us. While I have my own personal account – @coachferg – I also co-tweet from our team account – @SU_Baseball – along with our play-by-play announcer Dan Giuliani. Giuliani also has his own personal account – @DanGiuliani – so in essence, we really have 3 accounts from which we can spread the gospel of Redhawk Baseball! Facebook is another outlet we are trying to grow. We have the standard litany of photos and news and what-not on our page, but we are also exploring ways to create even more interaction with our fans, through avenues such as embedded video players live-streaming our games, fan giveaways, and live auctions during broadcasts. Pinterest is yet another road we’re careening down, though I must admit it feels at this point like the steering wheel is disconnected. My wife turned me onto this site (she’s an addict) as well as one of our alums, who happens to be a social media guru. It looks to be a particularly effectual way to give people a sense of what our program stands for and the atmosphere we foster here. It’s also a great way to reach out to moms, who as all coaches know, are the bus drivers of the recruiting process. Pinterest’s current demographics are roughly 80% women, so we know we can reach that particular audience with our message of family, academics, and charity. I can almost guarantee you there will be more Pinterest stories in the future from me, so prepare yourself!

I mentioned our broadcasts, and they are quickly becoming the nexus of our efforts to expand our brand. We have already added a streaming video option to go along with our audio broadcasts, and as I mentioned, we are making those available on our Facebook page as well as our website. In addition we are working on an iPhone app that will allow fans to stream all of our audio broadcasts. All these things combined with a host of new promotional events planned for home games has us on the right track I think to building up the recognition for the SeattleU brand. Be on the look out folks! There’s more coming!

Travel Experiences

It has been weeks since my last post and I know that is sloppy but I now have one coherent thought to discuss. The start of the baseball season! A lot has happened since I last blogged, we took a trip down to South Carolina as well as a trip to New York. Our record stands at 5-2 but that does nothing to describe what has gone on for us Ravens.

I’ll be focusing this post on traveling and the things that us college guys do to entertain ourselves on 18 hour bus rides, or six hour shuttle runs. As you will find out the mode of transportation is vital in determining our source of entertainment. Our coach bus ride down to South Carolina was an overnight affair that consisted of movies, cards, the introduction of a few games(cavaleri, at least that’s how I think it’s spelled), password and mind numbing boredom.

I’ll begin with explaining the game of cavaleri. It’s Medeival at best, the goal of the game is to start at the front of the bus and make your way to the back of the bus. The part of this game that makes is that every other teammate on the bus is attempting to stop you from touching the back wall. Why? Because the reward is a nice dinner from each and every bus mate. Over the course of the day freshman were dog piled, sophomores thrust to the ceiling, and juniors well they’re too salty to make an attempt. I should add though that in my history of bus trips(4 years) only one man has successfully made it to the back of the bus. That man is Doug Elliot, a red-shirt junior at the time, he was smart enough to bring enough snacks and deserts on the bus to fully occupy everyone of us starving ball players to proudly yell cavaleri and make it high-stepping to the back of the bus untouched by 34 sets of arms.

My favorite rides occur when we use the shuttles as our form of transportation. These shuttles fit up to 14 players and provide a much more personal atmosphere than the spread out coach buses. Why is this my favorite ride? Because it provides the perfect set-up for a game we play called “Mafia”. This game deserves a well drawn out explanation. It requires roughly 12 men to play and 1 narrator. The game consists of 3 mafia members, 1 cop, 1 doctor, and the rest of the players serve as townspeople. The goal of the game is for the mafia members to move from the minority to the majority and they do this by lying and deceiving like Fletcher Reede. The game is played in rounds with everyone putting their heads down in between the rounds for the Mafia to murder one unlucky soul, the cop to seek out Mafia members, and the doctor to choose a person to save from certain death. After each special role has made their act everyone raises their heads and opens their eyes to listen to the narrator describe a gruesome murder orchestrated by the Mafia. After the story is told the round is open to debate as to which participant should be voted out of the game.

My explanation of Mafia may be confusing but the point is this game may get more rowdy than cavaleri, bringing out the best in peoples acting ability as well as the worst in ones character. My sophomore year I was fooled in the last round by a fake hamstring cramp  by our starting third baseman Mike Olt. Obviously I haven’t let that one go….I hope you enjoyed this post a little more and I’m going to work on obtaining footage of these wonderful games and other happenings that our team is able to drum up.

Rating Reaction – Week 4

The top three in the rankings remained the same and I don’t have a single gripe with anot of them.  #1 Florida was like the Fat Boys’ 1987 album and were “Crushin”. The Gators beat FAU 16-1, Florida A&M 15-2 and swept Florida Gulf Coast over the weekend. #2 Stanford shutout St. Mary’s and won a close series two games to one over Rice. #3 South Carolina won all four of their contests, allowing only a single run in each of the games.  Their wins were over UNC Asheville andPrinceton.

There was some minor moving and shaking in positions four though thirteen, and again, I think the voters were right on target.  Shockingly I don’t think I’d move a single team.  If I were to position the teams on my own there would likely be a couple teams flip flopped, but the level of competition is so close it would just be nitpicking.

#4 North Carolina moved into the top five following their win over Davidson and road sweep of Clemson.  #5 Arkansas swept Binghamton and #6 Florida State won two games over UCF and three move at Duke.

#7 Rice dropped a few rungs on the rankings ladder after going 2-3 last week. In their favor, they lost a one run game to a red hot TexasState club and narrowly lost a tight series on the road to Stanford.

#8 Texas A&M had a predictable lopsided win over Prairie View A&M and won the opener in their series with Cal State Fullerton, however the Aggies lost the series to CSF which cause them to fall a few spots.

#9 Arizona moved into the top ten after winning five games against the likes of  UC Davis andEastern Michigan. Not impressive wins by any means, but I’ve felt that the Wildcats are a top ten team from the get-go, so I’m not gonna complain with the rise.

#10 Cal State Fullerton only had a .500 week, but moved up a spot based on their series win over Texas A&M (the Titans a midweek loss over USC).  #11 Miami also crept up a couple spots after sweeping BostonCollege.

#12 Arizona State dropped two spots after losing a game to Texas Tech and winnings their series over Long BeachState two games to one.

#13 LSU had a pair of shutouts to start the week, victimizing Tulane and Michigan, but did lose their week finale to Notre Dame. Nonetheless, the Tigers did move two spots up in the rankings.

The first team I don’t agree with in the rankings, is #14 UCLA.  They jumped up six spots in the rankings after sweeping #18 Georgia, who was ranked #13 at the start of the week. I had the Bruins at #19 to start the season and still feel a position around #20 is where they should be.  They benefited from sweeping the Bulldogs who, once again, I feel are highly overrated.  I had them at #27 to start the season, and felt that was generous. They had no business being in the top fifteen.

#15 Georgia Tech fell out of the top ten after losing a series to North Carolina St. The Yellow Jackets also dropped a game to Georgia State to start the week. A drop to #15 is deserving based on those results, but I think GT has the juice to rebound and move back up. They simply have too much firepower to keep down.

#16 Ole Miss slid another three spots after wholloping UT-Martin and sweepingHouston. The Rebels have beaten everyone on their schedule, but the opposition hasn’t been that impressive as of yet.  OnceMississippi starts SEC play I doubt they’ll stay in the top 30, let along the top 20.

#17 Oklahoma took two games from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, lost a game to Connecticut, defeated West Virginia an Oregon and dropped a game to Oregon State in a busy week. That is about what I would expect from the Sooners.  OU is a great team, but they have some major holes and inexperience.  When they are clicking on all cylinders they can be a CWS team, but when they’re not they have very susceptible. The same thing can be said for #19 Oregon State. Their results were similar to OU, beatingWest Virginia andIllinois, lost toConnecticut and had the aforementioned win over the Sooners. Being in the top twenty seems a little generous for both these teams, but there isn’t anyone I’d clamor to have placed ahead of them.

I have little doubt that #20 Oregon will not be in the top thirty when the season is over.  Not sure how they got in the top twenty. Not believing the hype.  If they couldn’t do it last year with all the talent they had I don’t know why they are going to fare any better this season. One reason I expect UO to drop is because they haven’t played teams like #21 Cal yet. Last week the Golden Bears narrowly defeated Creighton and split a four game series with Nebraska.  I expected better fromCal, but I’m not going to bet my life on them making it back to the CWS.

#22 UCF moved down one spot in the rankings after losing two games to Florida State and sweepingMassachusetts.  Both losses to the Seminoles were by a single run which is better than I expected.  I didn’t expect the Knights to be a CWS contender to start the season, instead favoring Rice and ECU in Conference USA, but I’m more than wiling to admit that I was wrong.  I like the moxie of the Knights and hope they continue to contend.

#23 Clemson was swept at home by North Carolina and has a record under .500, but still remain in the top 30.  I’m cool with that. They’ve had a dilly of a schedule and I’m confident their pitching staff will lead them deep into the postseason once again.

#24 Kentucky enters the rankings as they are undefeated; however they haven’t played anyone worth mentioning yet. Their best win is actually against USC Upstate who only has one loss so far. Last weekUK beat Tennessee Tech, Marshall and Canisius.  The mid 20’s is appropriate for the Wildcats.  Even though they haven’t played anyone great, or even good, so far, they are 16-0 to start the season.

Last week I wrote, #25 Louisville, would “play Oral Roberts,Alabama and East Carolina.  The week after they have two with Ole Miss. I expect the Cardinals to win no more than two of those five games.” I prediction I am sticking with.  The Cardinals lost to Alabama and ECU and beat Oral Roberts. U of L is not a top thirty team.

Another team undeserving of being ranked is #26 Virginia. I was willing to give the Cavs a flyer before the season, and put them at #23. I think it’s a matter of time before UVA falls out.  Last week they won two of three over Virginia Tech and also had a win over James Madison. Florida State and Clemson are coming up in the next couple of weeks and I don’t expect the Cavs to make it through the end of the month in the top 30.

#27 USC is a third team in a row I don’t feel deserves to be ranked in the top 30.  They did have a win over Cal State Fullerton and swept Cal State Bakersfield, but I’m not convinced.  I’m willing to bet they will be out and in the “Receiving Votes” category before the end of the month.

#28 Purdue only has one loss this year and absolutely hammered MurrayState last week.  Good to see a Big 10 team in here.  Before the season I would have expectedMichiganState to be here instead of the Boilermakers, but PU is much of a surprise. If they climb higher than 20 they will be overranked however.

#29 TCU and #30 Texas are having a tough go.  They are a combined 12-14 and have slid down the rankings from the jump.  Based on the their results they are appropriately ranked.  Based on their talent, they are way underperforming.

 

Just another Tuesday in Tucson

It is Tuesday, March 6, 2012 in Tucson, Arizona at roughly 5:30p.m. Somewhere at the Kino Sports Park, the Concordia Golden Bears are taking on the Jamestown Jimmies in a college baseball game. With the Golden Bears down 6-3 in the top of the ninth, senior left-hander Cody Wilcoxson enters the game to pitch.

Wilcoxson walked the only batter he faced in his first outing, so this is probably a test appearance to see how he handles himself out there this season. See how he handles the elements, the unknown of the game. See how he handles the unexpected.

Alright, that is enough third person typing about myself. I take the mound, throw my warm-up pitches and get ready for my second appearance of the year.

Strike one. Alright, I’m in the zone. Let’s roll through this inning and get the boys off the field and win it in the bottom of the ninth. Nothing like a good pirated win. I come set with the next pitch. I kick my leg high and drive towards the plate. A fastball on the outer half of the plate. The hitter swings and hits it on the ground toward short. Our shortstop fields it coming in and makes an off balance throw. E6. Well, if they wanted to see how I would handle myself out here, this is a good opportunity.

I come set to face the next hitter. I eye the runner at first. Kick my leg, drive towards the plate. Ball one. Shake it off. I come set again. Look to first. Look home. Look to first. Slide step to home. Strike one. Back on track, a ground ball double play would look real nice right here. I come set again. Slide step. Strike two. Did I say double play? I meant strike out. I come set for my fourth pitch with the batter down 1-2. I kick my leg high and snap off a slider. It starts down the middle of the plate and breaks towards the inside corner. Ball two. Mr. Umpire, debatable, I’d say that was strike three. I’m trying to make a good impression here. Whatever. Here comes another slider. I get my sign, knowing the catcher will call for another slider. I come set. This time I eye up the runner for three seconds before my leg kick. The runner breaks for second. I snap off the slider. The batter takes a giant cut. Swing and a miss. Strike three.

Our third baseman argues that the hitter interfered with the catcher’s ability to throw the runner out at second. I turn and watch Lippy as he aims his argument at the field umpire. When I finally wheel around towards home plate to retrieve the ball to face the next hitter I see the umpire down on a knee. Is this guy Tebowing? Everyone can see his face turning white as our trainer and coaches come to his aid. They lay him on his back. What just happened? We all look at each other not knowing what to do. We can hear bits and pieces of the conversation going on. He is diabetic. His blood sugar must be low.

The coaches give him some water and pop tarts. But, he doesn’t seem to be getting any better. They call 9-1-1. Our coaches and trainer are attending to the umpire as we all clear off the field and into the dugout. It seems like an eternity, but Tucson Fire first responders finally appear at the field. They rush to his aid. As they start to poke, prod, and prepare him to be moved it becomes glaringly obvious, this guy might have low blood sugar, but he is also having a heart attack.

He is finally taken away on a stretcher after a delay of almost a half an hour. I have the opportunity to warm-up again, and they bring in a replacement umpire so we can finish the game with a two-man crew.

After almost 45 minutes, the game resumes, but it definitely has a different feeling now.

I come set to throw the first pitch. I check the runner at second. I throw a fastball on the outer half and the left-handed hitter slaps it through the hole between third base and shortstop. Runners on first and third and one out. Sounds familiar. The next hitter hits a 0-1 slider weakly towards center field. I rush behind the plate to back up the throw to home. Larpy catches it, crow hops, and fires a strike to home plate. The throw hits the glove with the runner still a few steps away. Dead to rights. Jared lunges to tag the runner, who makes an awkward attempt to leap over him.  Jared sticks his mitt right into the runners stomach. Safe. What? Safe? He tagged him five feet from the plate. I still don’t even think he has touched the plate.

Everyone is screaming at the umpire who can’t make a simple call right before his eyes. Guess we are back to a normal baseball game. Now I’m mad. We should have been out of this inning a solid hour ago.

Strike one. Strike two. Ball one. Fastball fouled off into the dugout off the shoulder of an assistant coach. “Should’ve been out of this before someone get’s hurt, blue,” comes from the dugout. Fastball, 82-by-you, strike three. Inning over.

How is that for an audition? An hour-long inning that included a heart attack, a clearly blown call, and a scorching line drive into the dugout, oh, and two strikeouts, just saying.

I’m assuming that is a standard Tuesday in Tucson.

We found out the next morning that our umpire had to be revived twice on his way to the hospital, had open heart surgery to add more stints to the five he already had in his heart, and was placed into an induced coma. I have not heard any news since.

We left the trip 6-2 having dealt with more than our fair share of ‘stuff.” As our coach said to us on the first day of the trip, “Succeeding in baseball is mostly about how well you handle all the ‘stuff’ this game throws at you.” So good, so far.

See you Thursday in the Metrodome.

-Go Golden Bears-

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!

Fun in the Sun !

The Penn State Greater Allegheny baseball program wrapped a successful week at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL. This was the first year at the facility, and our program came away very impressed. Everything associated with the Vero Beach Sports Village was 1st class. In a strange twist, Peter O’Malley, Hideo Nomo,and Chan Ho Park were spending time at the facility for various reasons.

Were finished the week 6-4 overall (5-4 Varsity/ 1-0 JV).  This was the most challenging southern schedule we have played to date, and our young men met it with full force! For the first time our program was able to defeat perennial USCAA power Apprentice, and we also were able to take 3 of 4 from 2011 USCAA World Series participant Rochester College (MI). On our day off we spent the day at the New York Mets Spring Training facility where I was able to meet up with former teammate Ryan Ellis. Ryan is currently the High A manager in the Mets system. It was great to catch up with him, and to have him address our team.  Below are the recaps from each day in Vero Beach, FL !

Sunday March 4

http://psugaathletics.com/sports/bsb/2011-12/releases/201203040f62g2

Monday March 5

http://psugaathletics.com/sports/bsb/2011-12/releases/201203058t9lno

Tuesday March 6

http://psugaathletics.com/sports/bsb/2011-12/releases/20120306wqjw0f

Thursday March 8

http://psugaathletics.com/sports/bsb/2011-12/releases/201203081v7efg

Friday March 9

http://psugaathletics.com/sports/bsb/2011-12/releases/20120309qudfdc

Saturday March 10

http://psugaathletics.com/sports/bsb/2011-12/releases/20120311rkzxvc  —- Always great to ride 18 hours in a bus after a WIN !

We are back in action on Friday and Saturday, when we play host to USCAA foes Southern Virginia and SUNY Canton.

Rating Reaction – Week 3

The top nine teams in the NCBWA rankings all remained unchanged.  #1 Florida trailed Miami, 5-3 in the ninth inning Sunday and was down to its final two outs when the Gators rallied for five runs to earn the sweep over the ‘Canes. Even if the Gators hadn’t swept Miami, they still would have held the top spot as #2 Stanford, #3 South Carolina and #4 Rice also lost a game last week. The Cardinal took two of three atFresnoState, the Gamecocks won a hard fought series over Clemson and Rice dropped a contest toTexas but did earning wins overHouston,Texas Tech andTennessee.

#5 Texas A&M tallied five more wins to their total by taking two from Northwestern State and three from Michigan State. #8 Florida State and #9 Georgia Tech were also undefeated on the week, with the Seminoles sweeping Maine and the Jackets winning all three contests overRutgers. Another week of perfection by A&M or Seminoles could give them grounds to make a small surge in the rankings as the Aggies host Cal State Fullerton and FSU has a pair of midweek contests on the road against UCF and travels once again over the weekend to play Duke and their All American Marcus Stroman.

Despite losing a game to St. Mary’s and unremarkable wins over St. Louis, NIU and Winthop (the win over WU was kinda impressive; it was a 17-2 shellacking ) #10 Arizona State moved into the top ten. The move came at the expense of now #14 Miami who had the previously mentioned losses to Florida.  Personally I think the ‘Canes got hosed with the dump in the rankings.  Sure it hard to justify not slipping a team down the rankings a few notches after getting swept, but Miami was competitive in the series with the unanimous top ranked team. Nevertheless,Miami should have taken one of those games, especially considering they were played on their home field.

#11 Cal State Fullerton climbed a few rungs in the rankings (previously #15) following their win over Loyola Marymount and a series sweep overUtahValley. This move up was more of a product of teams previously ahead of them having disappointing weeks.

#12 Arizona had an unremarkable sweep of Harvard.  ‘Zona pitchers only allowed four runs in the series with the Bulldogs, but I would expect that from the talented U of A pitching staff.

 #13 Georgia lost a game to Western Carolina and another to Western Illinois. As I’ve stated every week, the Bulldogs are way too high in the rankings.  Not sure why they are this high and secondly, why they only go down one spot after losing a pair of games to unranked teams at home.

The #15 LSU Tigers seem to have rebounded from their series loss to Appalachian State.  At least the offense has.  The Tigers put up double digit runs three times last week in wins over Grambling, McNeese St andDartmouth. It is concerning that the staff did allow ten runs twice, but the games were still lopsided midweek wins.  I think I have a great feeling about this team and I think LSU will be back inOmaha this spring.

My doubts about #16 Oklahoma continue to fester.  Last week the Sooners had a loss to UT Arlington, but did sweep New Mexico.  I unquestionably would put OU behind #17 Clemson, who lost their rivalry series withSouth Carolina. The Tigers stretched the first game into extra innings before losing, dropped the second game and game back for a one run win in the finale. If the Tigers can will their series with week with North Carolina, I’d expect them to be ranked in the low teens where I though they should be preseason.

Befuddled is the word I would use to describe my feeling on #18 Oregon. After their disappointing seasons the last two years based on lofty preseason expectations, I’m not ready to jump on the Duck’s bandwagon despite their 10-1 start.  I think the voters should be apprehensive too.  There is not enough experienced, proven talent on the team to warrant a positioning that high, especially based on last year’s results and talent losses. Why they moved five spots after three one-run wins overLong BeachState is very confusing to me.

Another team I’m not ready to put in the top 20, is #19 Ole Miss. I want them to do well because I’d love to see Rebel Nation invade Omaha in the CWS, but I don’t think this is going to be their year. Last week the Rebels defeated Memphis,JacksonState and won a series over Miami (OH). None of those wins really impressed me much. It won’t be until the end of the month when they host Florida that they will be tested heavily.  Until they notch some big wins, and I’m talking about opponent, not score, I’d peg the Rebels around the 30-35 range.

#20 UCLA swept Sacramento State with wins over Baylor anLong BeachState.  A good week for the appropriately ranked Bruins.

I’m high on #21 UCF, but not top twenty high. I think the Knights should close out the rankings in the 28-32 range.  Last week they beat USF, Bethune Cookman and sweptSiena. Those were all games they should win. Beating upcoming Florida State is a whole different matter.

Like their Beaver State brother Oregon, I think #22 Oregon State is overrated.  Last week they beat Winthrop,St. Louis and NIU and lost to St. Mary’s. This weekend they’ll playIllinois,Connecticut andOklahoma.  The Beavers could easily sweep the weekend, but I won’t be impressed.  If the Beavers can win their upcoming series withCal andArizona, then I’ll put them in the top twenty. Until then I consider them rankings filler.

Since the start I’ve felt #23 Louisville was way overrated.  The coaches have the Cards at #14 which is outrageous. I think they must feel some obligation to put a Big East team high in the rankings. Last week the club won two of three over a good Pepperdine club. This week they play Oral Roberts,Alabama andEast Carolina.  The week after they have two with Ole Miss. I expect the Cardinals to win no more than two of those five games.

#24 Cal had a perfect week with wins over San Francisco and Lehigh. I’m picking the Bears to come in second in the Pac-12 so I’m anticipating some big weeks ahead when they return toNebraska to face the Huskers and the week after when they host OregonState.

The #25 Longhorns are 4-7 after dropping games to Tennessee and Arkansas.  They did however defeat Rice.  They should get back to .500 this weekend when they face Loyola Marymount.  The Longhorns offense has been woeful this season.  So far UT is batting .216.  The usually stout pitching staff isn’t doing so great either as Texas has a 4.20 ERA after having one of the lowest in the nation last year.  UT isn’t the only school in Texas not living up to expectations.  #26 TCU is also hovering around .500.  The Frogs had a loss to Texas State and won two of three overOklahomaState last week. Once the Frogs start their Mountain West schedule the wins will start piling up again.

#27 Virginia officially doesn’t belong in the top 30 anymore. They got my nod to be in the top 25 in the preseason based on their recent history.  But it appears they have simply lost too much to be a force this season. Last week they dropped games to Liberty,WrightState and Seton Hall. WrightState and Seton Hall don’t even have wining records. The Flames are more deserving to be in the rankings than the Cavaliers.

I’m not crazy with #28 Baylor being in the rankings either.  I’d color them more of a top 40 team.  Last week they lost two home games to Lamar, although they did take a pair from UC Irvine who I do like and picked as a middle of the rankings club in the preseason.

#29 Gonzaga is one of the few remaining teams without a loss.  A place in the late 20’s is deserving, but I’d put them more around the 20-25 range. The Zags had wins overLouisiana, UT-San Antonio andKansaslast week.  All respectable wins.

Lastly, #30 Maryland closes out the rankings.  The Terps have earned their spot, but I highly doubt they will be there when the season closes. Last week they swept four games from Manhattan. I can’t seeMaryland keeping it going once they enter ACC play this week with contests atWakeForest.

Week 4

Week Four Blog
CB Lineup

Millersville University

A lot has happened since I have last wrote…

Saturday, March 3rd took us to California University of Pennsylvania to take on a traditionally very solid PSAC West opponent. Coach Conte always has his team ready to compete! Brooks Rothschild turned in another very good performance on the bump, throwing a complete game and giving up one earned. Offensively, we woke up, throwing a 9 on the board.

Game 2 was a different story. Mike McMonagle had a tough outing, not getting out of the first inning before 6 runs had crossed the plate. Kyle Petty turned in a great performance on the bump for Cal, tossing a complete game shutout. Looking back at the day, I was pleased with our performance across the board, for 13 out of 14 innings. Our arms put zeros on the board for 12 of 14 innings. Game two, we got beat… it happens sometimes.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 took us to Philadelphia University for a single game. Philadelphia beat us 7-6 in a close game. The loss marked the 2nd time in two years that our program has lost two consecutive games (N. Georgia in our opening series in ’11). Our consistency has been a product of good pitching, great defense and a phenomenal mental approach by our club. It’s the same old equation that wins over and over at every level. When it comes to our current club—it’s the same thing that we need to get rolling in the present. The last thing that we need to do is begin searching for answers.

In my first entry, I wrote a lot about adversity. I am again looking forward to assessing how our club reacts to the current adversity. Since September, we have talked about what our approach is going to be when it finally does go bad for a couple games. Well, here we are—our first losing streak in a year. I am looking forward to the first pitch on Friday—after all, that is the only thing that our club can control. When we are able to focus a pitch at a time, we will be right where we want to be.

Thanks for reading,

Jon Shehan
Millersville University

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!

 

What does it take?

Greetings baseball and Argonaut followers!!!

There is so much to get into this post because its been a solid 2 weeks since my last post.  There have been some ups and downs for the Argo Baseball team in the last few weeks.  Beginning from the top, the UWF Baseball team faced now top-ranked Tampa 2 weeks ago in the first annual GSC/SSC Baseball Crossover.  It was definitely a game that both teams had circled on their schedule!  I think both teams have a strong understanding that there is a good chance that this years regional host could very well be either one of us.  This was the only shot we had at them to have a head-to-head battle.  Unfortunately, the cookie didn’t crumble quite the way we wanted.  We dropped the uninspiring game 10-7.  Although we fought hard, ultimately we got down by too much, too early.

Ryan Day reading to my 5th grade class

We bounced back quite well, basically dominating Barry University 13-1.  We had our way with every aspect of the game, and it was a great team effort.  We hit 3 bombs in the first three innings, which probably was an Argonaut first.  It was pretty cool to witness, especially considering the way we had lost the night before.  Following Barry was 2 mid-week games against Miles College.  We took care of business, winning both games with little stress.  Now came the weekend, the conference opener against GSC new comer University of New Orleans.

After being rained out on Saturday, we played a double header on Sunday.  After taking the first game in scary 10-9 fashion, we followed the win with a disgraceful 12-3 lose.  It has been quite a while since we suffered a lose like this one.  To give you an idea of how long its been, it was the last time I played a game in the outfield.  It was a brutal 18-0 lose to North Georgia 3 years ago.  Not a good one… Coach Jeffcoat doesn’t tolerate losing, especially at home.

Fr. Mike Tomlison *photo by Chris Nelson

Even though there is a bad taste in our mouths following this weekend, there is always a positive to everything.  The Argonaut bats are coming to life, and some hitters have been mashing the ball!  For starters, Josh Huggins has been coming up clutch with big hit after big hit!  Currently Hugbear is batting .333 with 6 2b, 3 HR, and 14 RBI.   Other Argo’s swinging a hot stick are FR. Mike Tomilson (.440, 3 2b, 6 RBI) and Dustin Saulmon(.357, 4 2b, 1 3b, 1HR, 10 RBI).  They have come up big for us, at the plate and on the bases.  This week will be a big for the team, with a pair of mid-week games again nationally ranked Columbus State, and and weekend series at GSC rival North Alabama, who is also ranked.  If we could come out with 5 wins this week, I think it would boost the team right back in the discussion of hosting a regional, and I think it would really prove to this years team that WE ARE GOOD ENOUGH!  Last year, it took 2 big series wins over Delta State, and Florida Southern to really get us into a groove and gave us a certain confidence that we could hang with the “big boys”.  Well, now its time to put up or shut up… because these 5 games could certainly make or break our chances of hosting.

HugBear *photo by Chris Nelson

A quick update on my pitching progress for anyone who is thinking, “what have you been doing lately?”.  Well, I’m still waiting for my opportunity, and it’s just like it was last year.  I’m not a usual guy out of the bullpen, but I’m always ready to take the ball, and always try my best to stay prepared, just in case!  I got my debut against Columbus State last year, so maybe they’ll have a big time scouting report on me and all their hitters will tremble as I walk to the mound.  (Oops, I just woke up)

The attitude on the team is good, however, there is definitely a weird mojo floating around.  We all see the potential of what we have out there, but it’s taking a little longer than expected to put it all together.  An encouraging way to look at it is, we don’t have our best stuff right now, and are still 13-3.  So it could DEFINITELY be worse!

I hope everybody had a great March 2nd, (Dr. Seuss’ Birthday).  I had my roommates Ryan Day and Justin Bennett along with Ryan’s girlfriend Argo Soccer Superstar Lindsay Foy come read to my 5th grade class, and finished up the day with the movie “Horton Hears a Who”.  A great day, and from a teachers perspective, I definitely love days when I can play a movie!

Wish us luck this week!!!  We are going to need it!

As always, follow me on Twitter: http://bit.ly/TWITTERPHILLYBERT36

Check out or latest YouTube video of our bat ceremony before the Florida Southern series 3 weeks ago. ( http://bit.ly/wnuOAi )

Jordan Delorenzo looking good!

THANKS!

Philip Ebert 36

GO ARGOS!

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