PREVIEW: Gents at Grambling for Three-Game Set, Friday and Saturday
Thursday, March 10, 2011
SHREVEPORT-The Centenary baseball team will travel to Grambling for a three-game weekend series, beginning Friday evening at 6 pm, followed by a double-header on Saturday at 1 pm.

The Gents (2-4) are coming off a tough loss at No. 14 Texas A&M on Tuesday evening in College Station, Texas.

Centenary and Grambling met a year ago when the Gents swept the four-game series in Shreveport. The Tigers hold a 25-20 edge over Centenary all-time. However, the Gents are 7-1 over Grambling in the last five years. RHP Cole Thompson picked up his first collegiate win out of the pen in a 6-5 victory over the Tigers a year ago.

Junior Zachary Christ delivered a double off the left center wall at Texas A&M on Tuesday evening to put the Gents on board in the top of the seventh. The righty's double was his first hit of his Centenary career, which missed escaping the yard by a few feet. Christ finished the night 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.

Junior leader behind the dish, Jeff Schaffert extends his hitting streak to six games as he has recorded at least one knock in all six games this season. Schaff currently leads the team with a .389 average with seven hits in 18 at-bats. The righty has driven in two and has a .389 slugging percentage.

Seth Lugo has recorded a hit in every game he has seen a plate appearance. The junior has had an at-bat in 4-of-the-6 games this season and has tallied a hit in each of the contests for a four-game streak. When Lugo isn't playing center field or hitting, he is pitching as the Gents' ace.

Junior Kyle Morton may have been hitless until his last at-bat in the series opener with SFA, but the lefty came through in the clutch when he cranked a 3-2 pitch with two outs over the right field wall for a solo shot to break up a 3-3 tie. Morton finished the game 1-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. The solo shot was Morton's first home run and hit as a Centenary Gent.

In the second game of the three-game set with SFA, the ending wasn't ideal for Centenary as it dropped the contest at SFA, 22-2. However, 23 Gents saw action in the contest, including 14 hitters and 9 pitchers. For most of the team that welcomed back just six letterwinners from a year ago, saw their first action as a DI college athlete. A few shining moments stood out as freshmen Mark Gillean and Derrick Hernandez each tallied their first hit, while junior Zachary Christ, freshman Sam Martin and sophomore Kelby Langston each threw 1.0 inning in relief, holding SFA hitless.

Mike Diaz enters his first year as a head coach for the Centenary baseball team. The former assistant begins his seventh year with the Gents, but first as the leader of the squad. While at Centenary, Diaz has helped guide the Gents to a 171-155 record, garnering multiple 30-win seasons. He has also helped coach Centenary to six straight conference tournament appearances, while finishing runner up twice. As the recruiting coordinator, Diaz was fortunate to bring in and work with four All-Americans, 25 All-Conference players, including the 2010 Summit League Pitcher of the Year in Boone Whiting, and several All-Louisiana Sports Writers Association selections. Also under his direction, eight players have signed professional contracts, two of which came last season.

Centenary wrapped up the 2010 season with a third-place regular season finish in The Summit League, posting an overall record of 28-26 and a 17-9 mark in league play. The Gents fell in the conference tournament to Oral Roberts and Oakland, but produced many highlights throughout the season, including a series split against No. 1 Oral Roberts and No. 2 SDSU and a sweep of NDSU. Two players were drafted in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft as RHP Boone Whiting and LHP Dakota Robinson each signed contracts.

Justin Kraft and Derek Dalzell are the only two seniors on Centenary's roster this season. Both have played a huge role in the Gents' success over the last three years. Kraft, a right-hander pitcher is from Yakima, Wash. and Dalzell, a two-way guy is a three-year letterwinner from Bay City, Mich.
• Justin Kraft: 4-5, 6.82 ERA, 12 GS, 2 CG, 60.2 IP, 47 SO (2010)
• Derek Dalzell: 4-2, 4.58 ERA, 24 AP, 35.1 IP, 21 SO

Both have been a part of a very successful Gents program and will be looked upon to lead this very young squad as it heads into their final year of NCAA DI.

Centenary's returners include Kraft, Dalzell, junior catcher Jeff Schaffert and junior RHP Seth Lugo and sophomores Cole Thompson and Matt Creamer. All six made a contribution on the field a year ago. Also returning to the program is pitching coach Jason Stephens, who guided two players into the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Of the 27 rostered players, Centenary welcomes 21 newcomers to the squad, including 16 freshmen. Hailing from California, Texas and Louisiana, the 16 young guns will have to play an integral role on this year's squad. Five transfers will see action this season in juniors Dan Lazarou, Zach Christ and Kyle Morton as well as sophomores Kyle Mauch and Kelby Langston. The five will immediately become role players in the outfield, infield and on the mound this season.

Seth Lugo, Centenary's only returning Summit League award winner a year ago is back and at it again. The right-handed thrower hails from Bossier City, La. and was named Second Team All-Summit League after posting a 2-3 record with two saves last season. He compiled a 4.75 ERA, made seven game starts, throwing 41.2 IP and collecting 34 strikeouts. In Summit League play only, he finished with a 2-1 record and a 3.34 ERA. He managed to hold league hitters to an opponent low-.216 average over the year.

LUGO RECOGNIZED BY COLLEGE BASEBALL INSIDER recently published its 2011 Summit League Preview, which highlights top players and coaches from around the league prior to Opening Day. Junior righty Seth Lugo was selected as "The Most Underrated Pitcher" in the League. For full release.

As the only starting returner from last year, junior catcher Jeff Schaffert has a lot to control, including an entire new defense as he will play once again behind the dish. Schaffert will catch a fairly experienced staff, which includes two seniors, a junior All-Leaguer and a sophomore. The Midland, Mich. native played in 51 of the 54 contests behind the plate last season, hitting .202 and driving in 27

Road Warriors...sure, why not? Centenary will play 17 straight games on the road after seeing the first three at home. The Gents will begin at SFA on March 5 and finish at ORU on April 10. 25 games total away from Shehee Stadium, including a four-game set in Hawaii, two-three game sets at Grambling and UT-Pan Am and Summit League play at ORU, NDSU and WIU.

Centenary will takes its game to Hawaii for five days when the Gents are set to play the University of Hawaii, March 17-21 in Honolulu. Centenary hosted Hawaii last season at Shehee Stadium for a single, mid-week game, falling 5-2. Jeff Schaffert recorded a hit, while Derek Dalzell threw one shutout inning.

Centenary will play its final year of NCAA DI and in The Summit League, before transitioning to full DIII status and to the American Southwest Conference next season.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Cole Thompson will be blogging all season long with "On the Bump." The blogs are released every Monday morning. For full coverage, visit or click on the "On the Bump" banner near the bottom of the homepage for all archived blogs.

Following the three-game set at Grambling, Centenary will travel to Hawai'i for four games beginning Friday, March 18-Monday, March 22.