"On the Bump" w/ Cole Thompson
Monday, March 14, 2011
Hey y'all welcome back to "On the Bump" and your Centenary baseball headquarters. This past week was Mardi Gras break for Centenary, so it was a week full of baseball, and no school. It was another week full of highs and lows for our squad. We played well some days, we underachieved a few times, but we also grew closer as a team.

Monday was one of those darker days for us during the week. We came out ready to get a solid practice in before travelling to Texas A&M on Tuesday. However, one freak accident completely changed the mood of the team during the day. During bunt defense, senior pitcher/captain/leader Justin Kraft seriously injured himself while performing a drill we have practiced hundreds of times. We could tell right away it was pretty serious, and we all hurt for Kraft. You never want to see such an injury happen to anyone, but especially to a team leader during his senior season. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with a broken tibia and fibula, disaligned ankle, and a torn ligament in his ankle. He is done for the year, which leaves a big hole in our pitching staff to be filled. There is no easy way to replace a guy like Kraft in our rotation. We could always count on him to go out and compete and pitch deep into the game for us. But like I said before, injuries happen to every team. It is just another chance for our younger guys to step up and be a big-time player for us.

Since Kraft will not be playing anymore this year, I just wanted to give you an idea of how much he accomplished in his time at Centenary. He finishes his senior year with 240.2 innings pitched at Centenary, which is good for 3rd all-time in the Centenary record book. He very likely would have broken the all-time record of 295.1 innings pitched had he remained healthy. Also, he finished tied for 5th all-time in games started with 36. He definitely would have shattered the current record of 40 games. Finally, he finished his career with 194 strikeouts, good for 4th in the record books at Centenary. Kraft had a very good chance to catch the all-time leader, good friend Boone Whiting, who holds the record with 247 career strikeouts. Needless to say, Justin Kraft has meant a lot to this program. He was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team in 2008, the same year he tied the school record for wins in a season (9). When not on the mound, you can usually find Kraft helping our younger pitchers with the finer details of pitching, as well as working with them on mechanics and off-speed pitches. To give you an idea of what kind of teammate he is, I look back to early March during last season. I had been struggling early in the year, and we had just finished a 3 game weekend series with Gonzaga. I did not pitch in the series, and I was disappointed that I did not get a chance. Kraft, who had just started on Saturday, stayed an extra hour with me after our final game on Sunday to catch drills for me and help me fix the flaws in my mechanics. I do not know many guys that would do that, and it meant a lot to me that he was willing to help a guy way lower on the totem-pole of the pitching staff get better. To me, that is the definition of a team leader.

Tuesday morning we headed out for a mid-week game against #14 Texas A&M. All the guys were pretty excited to get out and compete against the 14th ranked team in the country, as well as a Big 12 powerhouse. For all but 7 of our guys, it was the biggest stage that our team had played on. To go to Texas A&M with so many freshmen and guys new to the Division 1 level of baseball was a fun challenge for us. It was a great atmosphere, facility, and an all around great day for baseball. We faced a proven, high-level Division 1 pitcher, A&M's Ross Stripling. Our offense struggled in the game, only recording 5 hits. However, a bright spot came when junior Zachary Christ banged a double off the wall with 2 runners on base. It was our first extra base hit of the year with multiple runners on base, which is something that we can build on. Sometimes, you just have to get the monkey off your back to kick-start the offense, and I believe Zach gave our offense a little momentum going into the weekend. Defensively, we simply made too many errors. It's rough because I see our guys make these plays day in and day out at practice, but we just didn't take it onto the field on Tuesday night. It may have been the big crowd, atmosphere, or simply an off day, but I know that we can play defensively much better than we did on Tuesday night. On the mound, we actually pitched it ok. I know that sounds like an oxymoron in a blowout game, but we stuck to our game plan as a staff. We threw 7 guys (myself, 5 freshmen, and a junior college transfer) and we only walked 2 batters the whole game. As a staff, we talk about attacking the strike zone early and I was glad to see our guys pound the strike zone in front of a large crowd. All in all, we did not play great, but I know we will take the experience of playing in front of 2,500+ people and use that to our advantage later in the season. Also, the Texas A&M fans were great. It was a really fun environment to play in and I loved hearing their fans chant my name as I pitched in the first inning. I don't know if I have ever had as much fun pitching during a game as I did on Tuesday. The atmosphere just got my adrenaline pumping and helped me focus up, but at the same time it was still great to soak up the experience of pitching in your home state against a nationally ranked team. I would also like to give a shout-out to all my friends and family that came to see the game. It was great to see y'all and I really appreciated the support. Thanks Audrey, Dan, Franny, James, Katie, Brittany, and Caroline for coming out.

We got back to Shreveport a little before 4 am on Wednesday morning. As a result we received an off day on Wednesday. Several of the guys used the off day to get into the training room and take care of a few bumps and bruises, while others went out and fished. I took advantage of the off day to go to Kelby Langston's house along with Peter Rajkovich and enjoyed a home cooked meal courtesy of Kelby's parents in Ruston, Louisiana. It was really nice to get a home cooked meal, something you don't really appreciate until you venture off to college.

Thursday morning we came out and had a pretty solid practice. One thing we all know is that a good day starts with a good breakfast, and we had some nice home cooked breakfasts all week. Since the cafeteria was closed for Mardi Gras break, the coaching staff took it upon themselves to cook us breakfast each morning this past week. Just for the record, coach Stephens makes some delicious pancakes. Also, coach Diaz and coach Jolley made some pretty solid eggs and bacon as well. Coach Diaz and coach Stephens even grilled us hotdogs and hamburgers on Monday night. I don't know how many coaching staffs in America cook and grill for their team over Spring Break, but our coaches did a great job and it's pretty cool that they took time out of their day to prepare food for us.

Friday we headed out for the first of 3 games against the Grambling Tigers. Friday wasn't a great game for us as we fell short to the Tigers 7-3. I started for us and threw okay. I kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win, but I was not satisfied with my performance. I fell behind in too many counts and that is a recipe for disaster. I know that I can do much better and I will build off of this start to pitch better in my starts from here out. I threw 5.2 innings and Sam Martin came in behind me and threw a solid 2.1 innings. Offensively, we had 8 hits but we didn't string them together and we failed to execute our game plan offensively. On the whole, we had a lot of room to improve every facet of our game heading in to Saturday's double-header.

Saturday was a breakthrough day for our offense. We scored 18 runs on 26 hits scattered over 16 innings of baseball. However, we split the doubleheader, winning 9-7 in Game 1 then dropping Game 2 by a score of 10-9. One thing we did well on the day was making sure we played hard until the last pitch. In Game 1, we were down 5-1 after 4 innings. A 3-run homer by Marc Martinez sparked our rally in the top of the 5th inning. Freshman RJ Talamantes also sparked our offense, going 4 for 5 with an RBI. Starter Seth Lugo struggled to find the zone early, but he came back strong and threw a solid 7 innings for us while striking out 11 Grambling hitters. Also, junior Zachary Christ came in and recorded his first collegiate save.

In Game 2, we started off in a hole, trailing 9-1 after 2.0 innings. We could have easily mailed it in and taken a drubbing similar to our bad games against SFA and Texas A&M. Instead, we slowly chipped away scoring 2,3, and 3 runs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings respectively. The comeback was aided by homeruns from Kyle Morton and Seth Lugo. We managed to tie the game at 9 after the 6th inning, but we ultimately lost in the 8th inning on a walk-off error. We lost this game because our pitching staff walked 9 batters during the game. This is out of the norm for our staff, and we cannot expect to give our team a chance to win when we hand out so many free passes to 1st base. While we are never satisfied with defeat, it was very encouraging to see our team fight back from 6-1 and 9-1 deficits during the day. Also, catcher Jeff Schaffert extended his hitting streak to 9 games.

There are a few individual efforts that I would like to recognize on the weekend. We mixed up our starting lineup this weekend, and our coaches gave several guys a chance to prove they belonged in the lineup. Some failed, some played average, and some exceeded expectations. Two guys that really showed up offensively for us were Laetten Galbraith and Kyle Mauch. These guys had not been everyday guys in our lineup until Saturday, but with the results they posted, it will be hard to keep them out of the lineup. Laetten went 6 for 8 at the plate on Saturday, driving in 4 runs, several of which occurred in key situations throughout the day. He also came in during the bottom of the 7th in Game 2 to pitch for us. The game-winning run was on 3rd as the bases were loaded with 1 out. He induced a groundball from the Grambling 3-hole hitter and we rolled up a 6-3 double play to take the game into extra innings. Kyle Mauch went 4 for 7 with the stick and provided a spark to our lineup. It truly gives the team a huge boost to have guys come off the bench and play a key role in our success that day.

Sunday was another off day for us, giving us a chance to set our clocks forward for Daylight Savings and get organized for the upcoming week. We will practice Monday-Wednesday before heading out for Hawaii on Thursday morning in preparation for our 4 game series with the University of Hawaii. While we are all extremely excited to go to Hawaii, we are taking the mentality that this is a business trip and not a vacation. Hawaii is a very solid team, as they were picked to win the WAC according to the preseason coaches' poll. We know that if we come out looking to enjoy our time at the beach, we will get it handed to us by Hawaii so we must remain focused the whole trip. Also, Kyle Mauch will be providing a daily video blog of our trip to Hawaii so be sure to check back here each day to catch up on the daily events as we travel to the Islands.

One interesting thing you may have noticed if you attended the Grambling series was that our hitters signaled to the dugout after a hit. For those of you wondering what they were doing, I have brought in senior captain Derek Dalzell to explain their new signs. "Jeff Schaffert and myself were sitting in our living room one night after practice and talking about things to get our team motivated. For the past two weeks at practice we had been going over the idea of throwing signals to our players on the field for offensive accomplishments (kind of like the Texas Rangers last season with the Claw and Antlers). So as we were sitting on our coach and watching the Georgia vs. Alabama baseball game on T.V. we saw a guy rope a double off the wall. As he was standing on second base, he did the shakeweight motion. Jeff and I started to crack up and immediately thought, that's it! That is what we are going to do to get some excitement out of our team. Since we had a power sign for extra base hits (shakeweight) we figured we needed a speed sign too for plays such as a stolen base or legging out a single. It didn't take long for me at all to think of the old-school Nike pumps that were on shoes. So from that moment on we determined that every extra base hit, the dugout would give the shakeweight motion to the hitter and he would give it back. Same for the pumping of the shoes with a speed play. And that-Ladies and Gents is how the year of the Shakeweight and Pumps began." It would be great if our fans could join in on the action, so feel free to give the shakeweight or pumps sign if you feel the time is right.

This week I will be interviewing 2 of our freshmen that stepped up their game this weekend. Freshmen Marc Martinez and Laetten Galbraith stepped up for us at the plate and on the mound and contributed to our success this weekend. Now, you will get the chance to meet the guys that helped fuel our success.


Marc Martinez - Freshman/Austin, Texas
Q: What is your major?
A: Business

Q: You must always have _________ on road trips?
A: Ipod/Iphone

Q: Favorite professional sports team?
A: Boston Red Sox

Q: Favorite TV show?
A: Baseball Tonight

Q: Who is your dream girl?
A: Amber Heard

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: Hopefully playing baseball

Q: Favorite movie?
A: Top Gun and The Sandlot

Q: What are your walkout songs this year?
A: "Nike boots" by Wale and "Pledge Allegiance to the Swag" by T.I

Q: What is your dream vacation?
A: Fenway Park for a Red Sox vs. Yankees series

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: "Go big or go home" and "Cowboy Up"

Q: What is something most people don't know about you?
A: I am color blind

Q: Why did you pick your jersey number?
A: Because I want to play the game the way Roberto Clemente did

Q: What is your most embarrassing moment?
A: Thinking elephants were pink until my senior year in high school

Q: If you could have dinner with any 3 people in history, who would they be?
A: God, Ted Williams and Roberto Clemente

Laetten Galbraith - Freshman/Shreveport, Louisiana
Q: What is your major?
A: Biology

Q: You must always have _________ on road trips?
A: Pillow and phone

Q: Favorite professional sports team?
A: Atlanta Braves

Q: Favorite TV show?
A: NCIS

Q: Who is your dream girl?
A: Jessica Alba

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: Hopefully happily married with a kid or two leading a pleasant life

Q: Favorite movie?
A: Pearl Harbor and the Fast and Furious'

Q: What are your walkout songs this year?
A:Go getta- Lil Wayne, Yeah you know- T.I

Q: What is your dream vacation?
A: cruise to the Bahamas

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: Baseball is like church, many attend, but few understand

Q: What is something most people don't know about you?
A: I didn't start pitching until high school

Q: Why did you pick your jersey number?
A: Because 7 was already taken

Q: What is your most embarrassing moment?
A: breaking my collar bone, because I was being a typical BA and tackled a blow up Santa...

Q: If you could have dinner with any 3 people in history, who would they be?
A: Jesus, Chipper Jones, Bobby Cox