Hello Gents’ fans and welcome back to the first official “in-season” “On the Bump”. We split our games this past weekend and we were rained out on Sunday. During this edition of the blog I will highlight our trip to Dallas, break down our games, and talk about our upcoming week as we prepare to open conference play this coming weekend.
On Thursday afternoon we had a light practice before we packed up and headed 200 miles west to Dallas. Our practice was a little lackadaisical and that would prove to be a little foreshadowing for our game less than 24 hours later. Because Dallas was a rather short drive, we took three vans rather than a charter bus. I got to ride in Coach Jolley’s van and I have to believe we had the most fun out of any of the vans on the ride over to Dallas. It turns out that our hotel was less than a mile from my home in Plano so it was pretty cool to be so close to home. When we got to our hotel on Thursday night we were assigned our rooms and given a little bit of time to go find some food before curfew. My roommates for the trip were Grady Flournoy, Chase Clarke, and Trey Guccione. We held it down for the “BBB” in room 204.
Friday morning came awfully early as we had a 6:45 AM wake-up call for our 11 AM game. It was kind of weird knowing that it might be the last season that I ever get to wake up and participate in Opening Day. After a quick breakfast in the hotel lobby we headed out to McKinney for our matchup with East Texas Baptist University. I started on the mound for us and it was really fun to be back in the Dallas area and to pitch in my hometown. I had a lot of family friends and old friends come out to the game to support the Gents so thank you very much to everyone that came out to support the team this weekend.
I apologize in advance if I forget anyone’s accomplishments in my write-up. I typically have a play-by-play description of the game when I write these blogs, but I do not have access to those from this past weekend’s games. ETBU got on the board in the bottom of the first inning, but we answered back with three runs of our own in the top of the second inning. In the third inning we had a meltdown and ETBU put up five runs to take a 6-3 lead. A combination of hits, errors, and poor execution on our part led to the big inning. However, our team did not quit and we actually battled back to take an 8-6 lead going into the bottom of the eighth inning. Unfortunately, ETBU scored two in the eighth inning and one in the ninth to steal a 9-8 win from us. The game also ended on a controversial call, but the umpire had every right to make the call he did; it was just a tough way to lose the first game of the season.
Although we did not pull out the victory, there were several highlights on our end. Our relief pitchers Trey Guccione, Chase Clarke, and Taylor Henry did a solid job out of the bullpen. At the plate, we were led by Matt Creamer, Marc Martinez, Christian Sebastien, and Ben Schweinfurth, who all recorded multi-hit games for the Gents. Another silver lining is that I feel like we were not even close to reaching our offensive potential and we still put up eight runs and twelve hits. As for my start, I feel like I did a good job of filling up the strike zone and attacking the hitters. My only regret was that I did not execute on two pitches when I was ahead in the count during our long inning. This weekend’s games were non-conference though so in the end they ultimately do not affect our standings or interfere with our goal of winning a conference championship. Our biggest downfall was just mental mistakes in all aspects of the game. Granted it was the first game of the year, I still believe that we are a mature enough team to not make some of the mistakes we did. The most important things that we can take away from this weekend are what we did successfully, and we must determine how to improve upon the areas that we struggled with as a team. As long as we become better as a result of learning from our mistakes early in the season, we will continue to improve as individuals and as a team.
On Saturday we had another early morning as we took on Louisiana College at noon. Layton Tromba took the mound for the first time as a Gent and he did an excellent job on the mound. He held Louisiana College scoreless through the first four innings which allowed us to jump out to an early 4-0 lead. We struck for one run in the first inning when Ryan Gasporra and Tyler Clakley hit back-to-back doubles to draw first blood. In the second inning, Jemari James and Craig Littleman started off the inning with consecutive hits, and they eventually scored on a fielder’s choice and an RBI single by Matt Creamer. Another RBI by Matt Creamer in the fourth inning extended our lead to 4-0. However, we nearly got snake bit again by the big inning as Louisiana College scored six runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-4 lead. Once again a combination of hits, errors, and mental mistakes led to the big inning. The Wildcats tacked one more on in the sixth inning to stretch the lead to 7-4. This time it was our team’s turn to make a comeback and battle back from adversity. We entered the eighth inning down 7-4, but that was quickly erased by a Tyler Clakley triple and a Christian Sebastien single as we edged closer and cut their lead to two runs. Jemari James singled to put two runners on base, and then freshman Ben Schweinfurth came up clutch with a double to plate both runs and tie the game. A Louisiana College error followed by a Matt Creamer single extended our lead to 9-7 and it was a lead we would not relinquish. Freshman Paul Arcement made his collegiate debut in the ninth inning, earning the save while recording two strikeouts to secure our first win of the young season.
Layton Tromba did a great job of keeping the Louisiana College hitters off balance during his start. However, the Louisiana College hitters also did a good job of working the count, but Layton had an answer for every batter and persevered. Freshman Holden “Patches” Novak came in and worked a solid 1.1 innings in his collegiate debut. Grady Flournoy, who earned the win, threw a solid 2.1 innings of relief and looked as good as I have ever seen him on the mound. I was also proud of Paul for coming into a tight game and closing the door for us during his debut. At the plate we were led by Matt Creamer, Tyler Clakley, Jemari James, and Ben Schweinfurth.
As a whole, I was happy and frustrated by our play this weekend. We played far from our potential, but we were still competitive in both games. I believe that we have a very high ceiling as a team; we just have to continue to work hard every day in order to maximize our potential. We had a few uncharacteristic mistakes in each facet of the game that I did not expect to happen, but I also believe that we will learn from those mistakes and they will not happen again. Furthermore, I was really, really proud of all of our younger guys this weekend. We had several guys that did not have much or any collegiate experience prior to this weekend step up and make big plays for us. It was really encouraging to see that because they will only get better as they get more repetitions and game experience.
Another unique thing about playing on the road is that we began to form an even tighter bond as a team. I truly saw our team come together, on and off the field, to become more of a unit. Whether it’s hanging out in the hotel rooms, encouraging others during a game, or just enjoying each other’s company at dinner, our guys became better friends and teammates this weekend. Our team is a group of young men brought together who all aspire to win a conference championship. It is a unique bond that is tough to describe, but baseball was fun this weekend, and whenever the game is fun it makes the experience that much better.
As a senior, I caught myself a few times stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture. It made me happy to see our younger guys enjoying success and beginning to understand the brotherhood and camaraderie that occurs during a college baseball season. I am jealous that they all have two or three more years of the experience, and I really hope that they all soak up every minute of it because the time flies by.
Our game on Sunday was rained out because of a heavy overnight rainstorm in the Dallas area. Ironically, the nicest weather all weekend occurred on Sunday. We took a team trip to the outlet mall in Allen and enjoyed lunch at In N’ Out Burger before we headed back to Shreveport. I know it made our west coast guys happy to eat In N’ Out Burger.
Overall, I would consider the weekend a success even though we left with a 1-1 record. Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather be 2-0, but sometimes you learn more from the agony and pain of defeat. I feel like we will learn from our mistakes and that we will avoid the big inning defensively in the future.
This week we play a doubleheader on Wednesday against Jarvis Christian before we head to Georgetown, Texas for our first conference weekend against Southwestern. I do not know a lot about Southwestern, but they were picked third in the coaches’ SCAC Preseason Poll. Also, their new head coach came from Hendrix, who we played last season. Hendrix was a well-coached and well-disciplined team so I believe it is safe to say that we will see more of the same from Southwestern.
Thank you to everyone who came out to McKinney and supported us this weekend. Drop by next week to hear about our doubleheader with Jarvis Christian and our weekend series with Southwestern. Until next week, Go Gents!