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On the Bump – April 17, 2012

On the Bump with Cole Thompson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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