"On the Bump" w/ Cole Thompson
Monday, May 9, 2011
Hello Gents' fans and welcome back to a summertime edition of "On the Bump". This was a roller coaster week in every aspect of the term. We finished school, but in order for that to happen, you must take exams. On the field, we had our ups and downs against Southern Utah as well.

We rolled back into Shreveport around 4:30 AM on Monday morning. It was a long night of travel as we returned from Fargo, North Dakota. Upon landing in Dallas around midnight, we learned that the United States had hunted down Osama Bin Laden. On the bus ride from DFW to Shreveport, we had lots of guys studying for exams, because some of our guys had to wake up in three hours for an 8 AM exam on Monday morning.

On the field, we were given Monday off. It was still a very busy day for the team as we hit the books hard. On Tuesday we had an optional batting practice for our hitters. A majority of our pitchers came out and threw some drills as well. It was nice to have an optional practice, because it gave our hitters a chance to sharpen their skills, but at the same time it gave guys a chance to study that really needed to finish strong in the classroom.

Wednesday was our intrasquad day, and we played well considering some of the guys had not picked up a baseball since Saturday. Sometimes its nice to get a little break because it gives you a chance to clear your head and re-evaluate your performance. For example, my fellow sophomore Matt Creamer had a few ups and downs at North Dakota State, but he really came back strong this past weekend against Southern Utah. He played clutch defense all weekend for us, as well as providing several timely hits. On Thursday we ran through our pick-off moves with our pitchers. The scouting reports indicated that Southern Utah liked to run, so we ran through our pick plays in order to neutralize their offense.

In game 1, we came out flat. I can honestly say that it was our worst game we had played in about 6 weeks. Our offense, defense, and pitching were all out of whack. On the mound, we didn't attack hitters enough. At the plate, our offense strayed from the approach that had made them successful over the last several series. However, one thing sets this game apart from other games we played like this earlier in the year. This game was the exception instead of the rule. In the past, we would allow a performance like this to set us back as a team for the whole weekend. Instead, we bounced back and competed.

Seth Lugo came out and set a solid tone for us in game 2 of the doubleheader. Lugo scattered 7 hits over 8 innings while striking out 13 hitters. We really needed a strong performance, and Lugo paced us to a very good performance as a team. Our offense returned to form, pounding out 13 hits in the nightcap. Mark Gillean, RJ Talamantes, Jeff Schaffert, Peter Rajkovich, and Marc Martinez all recorded multi-hit games for the good guys. We also ran the bases very well this game, stealing 6 bags. Fellow "BBB" member Kelby Langston threw a scoreless 9th inning to preserve an 8-3 victory. As I stated earlier, this team has come a long way since March. Two months ago, we would have let a poor game dictate our play for the rest of the weekend. However, we are a stronger team now and we each have faith in the guy next to us to do his part in order to help us win.

We had so much fun on Friday that we decided to come out and play 2 more games on Saturday. In game 1, we outhit the Thunderbirds 11-7, but ultimately lost the game by a score of 6-5. Starter Derek Dalzell did not have his best stuff, but he used his bulldog mentality to keep us in the game. He took a lead into the 7th inning, and struck out 6 hitters along the way. Like I said last week, Derek is the guy that we can rely on to eat up innings and give us a chance to win each time he takes the mound. JoAnthony Cantu (2 hits), Matt Creamer (2 hits), and RJ Talamantes (4 hits) sparked the offense for us. We played our style of baseball in game 1, but we just did not have the ball bounce our way in a close loss.

I started the final game of the series for us. It was my first start since the Friday night that we played Hawaii in March. I ended up throwing a complete game shutout, as we won 6-0. It felt good to get back out there and be successful. I struggled as a starter earlier in the year, and it was nice to earn a spot and help our team win. I really have to give credit to my defense, because a shutout is a team effort. I only struck out 3 hitters, so my defense had my back on the other 18 outs. If you weren't at the game on Saturday, you missed a highlight reel catch from centerfielder Peter Rajkovich. He went back and caught a ball while diving (full-extension) backwards onto the warning track in deep center. It makes pitching a lot easier when you have a defense making plays like that behind you. Offensively, Petey swung a hot stick in the game as well, going 3 for 3 with 2 runs and an RBI. Matt Creamer also went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI. Although we won 2 out of 4 games, we fell short of our goal (winning 3 out of 4).

We have 2 weekends left of conference games. Realistically, we need to win 7 out of our final 8 games in order to have a chance to reach the Summit League conference tournament. It is not out of the realm of possibility, and I believe we can go out there and do it. This week we will trek to Macomb, Illinois to take on the Western Illinois Leathernecks. They currently sit in a tie for 3rd place in conference, so we will have to bring our "A-game" to the yard in order to reach our goal.

Thanks for reading this week and we appreciate all the support we got this weekend at home. This week I asked several of the guys to answer a special question for "On the Bump". Seeing that yesterday was the 2nd Sunday in May, I figured I would dedicate the Q&A to a personal question in honor of Mother's Day. I asked: "how has your mother influenced your baseball career?" As you will see below, our mothers play a significant role in our development as a baseball player, student, and most importantly a good person, friend, and teammate. Thank you mothers for all of your hard work and it is greatly appreciated.

Derrick Hernandez - "My mom was always going out of her way to get the newest gear and made sure I was always playing no matter the cost or time. If she had not done that I probably would not be playing today. My mom is the best."

Trey Lavespere - "My mom kept me persistent about baseball. She supported me at all times."

Mark Gillean - "My mother has always been there for me, win or lose. She would supply me with Rice Krispie Treats and Capri Suns after my games. Happy Mother's Day and I love you mom."

Derek Dalzell - "She took me to practices and games when I was a kid."

Dan Lazarou - "I love you mom, thanks for always supporting me and being the best. See you soon, and happy Mother's Day."

Trey Guccione - "My mother was always the one to pick me up and make me feel better after a bad game. She would travel any way she had to just to be there and support me."

Jeff Schaffert - "My mom has been very supportive in every way... whether it be buying gear or coming to all my games... my mom has spent a lot of time at ball games and I truly appreciate it."

Kyle Mauch - "My mom is the one that took me to all of my games. She sat in the stands, rain or shine, home or away. So really she is the reason I am where I am today. She gave me to opportunity to keep playing the game."

Cole Thompson - "My mom always supported and encouraged me growing up. She drove me to practices, lessons, and games. She always wanted the best for me, and she sacrificed a lot of time and effort in order to help me succeed. She also encouraged me to excel in the classroom, which has really helped me balance the life of a student-athlete."