"On the Bump" w/ Cole Thompson
Monday, February 21, 2011
Welcome back to "On the Bump" and our first in-season installment of the blog.

Our week of practice definitely had highs and lows. Some days we come out bounding with energy, some days we come out flat and underachieve. Unfortunately, these highs and lows would appear in our games on Saturday.

We scrimmaged 3 innings on Tuesday and Wednesday. Each day we simulated the situations as being the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. College baseball games are pretty similar to a heavyweight-boxing match. In the first 3 innings, the teams come out trying to get a feel for what to expect the rest of the game from the opposing pitchers and coaches. The middle innings consist of both teams getting after it and trying to gain control of the game. However, the last 3 innings are where games are won. Unlike any other sport, baseball does not allow you to just sit on the ball and run out the clock. Basketball teams can run a 4-corners offense and football teams can milk the clock; baseball teams have to attack the opposition the whole 9 innings if they want to win. The final 3 innings of a baseball game really turn into a brawl where the team with the "go-get-it" mentality typically prevails. Our pitchers did a great job of defending against late inning scenarios, while at the same time our hitters executed their bunts and situational hitting well.

Thursday and Friday were our lighter practices this week. On these kinds of days we prepare for our opponents and talk about what strategies they like to use in certain situations. We normally have scouting reports on our opponents, but we didn't really know much about Louisiana College going in to our double-header Saturday. We did know that they were 6-1 and demanded our full respect if we hoped to win.

Finally it was game time on Saturday and the weather could not have been any better. It was sunny and in the mid-70's. Just to preface my future game summaries: I will always point out our highs and lows. I will name individuals that performed well and contributed to our success in the game. I will never single out individuals for any mistakes, but I will point out if we struggled on the mound, at the plate, or in the field. I know I can be biased sometimes as a pitcher but I will do my best to give as fair an analysis as possible.

In Game 1, Seth Lugo started for us on the mound. Lugo didn't have his best stuff, but he kept the Louisiana College hitters at bay allowing only 2 hits over 5 innings of work while striking out 3. As a team, we compiled 8 hits, with freshmen Marc Martinez and Peter Rajkovich both collecting multi-hit games. Peter Rajkovich scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 5th on a Louisiana College error. I pitched the last 2 innings to collect the save as we started out the year with a win. Our biggest play of the game came from senior Derek Dalzell. "Daz" was mainly a pitcher last year, but this year he is patrolling the outfield for us as well. In the top of the 5th Derek made a full extension, back-handed, diving catch in left field to keep the score knotted at 0-0. If he had not made the play, we would have been facing a 2-0 deficit and a much different approach to the final innings. It felt good to get a win because we want to prove that we are going to be competitive this year and make a serious run at the top of the Summit League standings.

Game 2 was a different story for us. We had 8 hits as a team but we failed to string hits together or move runners over when we needed situational hitting. I know our guys will improve on that facet of the game throughout the year so I am not worried about it. At weekends end, we had 6 out of 9 starters hitting .333 or better so I know that the results will come along shortly. Returners Jeff Schaffert and Derek Dalzell paced us with 2 hits a piece in game 2. Senior Justin Kraft started for us and threw 5 solid innings, pitching well enough to give us a chance to win. He was relieved by freshman Grady Flournoy who threw 3 innings of solid relief for us as he only surrendered 1 hit. We had a few untimely errors, but I did find one positive out of our mistakes. Guys that made errors stepped up and made the next play they attempted. In baseball, an error is a big rally starter so it is essential to stop the bleeding right away and not allow the game to "snowball" out of hand. I was proud of our guys for bouncing back and competing hard. In the end, we lost 4-2 and fell to 1-1 on the season. One unnoticed statistic that I am sure many missed was the performance by sophomore Matt Creamer. At a glance it appears Matt went 0-1 at the plate this weekend. However, Matty laid down 3 key sacrifice bunts for us on Saturday. These are the little things that will make our club successful.

All in all the weekend was full of ups and downs, just like our practices during the week. I know that we will work hard these next 2 weeks to prepare for Stephen F. Austin on March 4th. The team was a little disappointed to finish 1-1 on the weekend but it's not the end of the world. We use non-conference games to prepare for conference, so we have 6 more weeks to clean up our game in preparation for Summit League competition. Our team goal is to make it to the Summit League conference tournament. We can prepare to reach our goal right now, but the true quest does not start until April 8th when we take on Oral Roberts. It was good for us to get out and get the jitters out and see our guys get their first at-bats, appearances, and college baseball experience this weekend.

As I stated earlier, we don't play again until March 4th when we meet up with Stephen F. Austin. Check back next week to read how we begin preparing for SFA and what we do to correct our mistakes from the past weekend. Also, thanks to everyone that came out to support us on Saturday. It always gives you that extra boost of energy playing in front of a good home crowd and I know all the guys really appreciate the support. Until next week, go Gents.

This week I interviewed freshmen Grady Flournoy and Peter Rajkovich. Grady and Peter both had successful weekends against Louisiana College. Grady attacked the strike zone constantly in game 2, while Peter scored our only run in our game 1 victory.

Grady Flournoy - Freshman/Shreveport, Louisiana
Q: What is your major?
A: Political Science

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

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

Q: Favorite TV show?
A: Pawn Stars

Q: Who is your dream girl?
A: Jennifer Aniston

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: Either playing baseball or practicing law

Q: Favorite movie?
A: Anchorman

Q: What are your walkout songs this year?
A: "I'm back" - T.I. and "Fly From the Inside" - Shinedown

Q: What is your dream vacation?
A: Trip to Figi

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: "Half the lies they tell me aren't true." - Yogi Berra or
"I can't prove it, but I can say it." - Stephen Colbert

Q: What is something most people don't know about you?
A: I learned how to water ski when I was five

Q: Why did you pick your jersey number?
A: I've always worn 16

Q: What is your most embarrassing moment?
A: I try not to get embarrassed

Q: If you could have dinner with any 3 people in history, who would they be?
A: Earnest Hemmingway, Mark Twain, and Stephen Colbert


Peter Rajkovich - Freshman/Linden, California
Q: What is your major?
A: undecided

Q: You must always have _________ on road trips?
A: iPod & Pillow

Q: Favorite professional sports team?
A: San Francisco Giants

Q: Favorite TV show?
A: Baseball Tonight

Q: Who is your dream girl?
A: Erin Andrews

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: Either playing or coaching baseball

Q: Favorite movie?
A: Super Troopers & Friday

Q: What are your walkout songs this year?
A: "Worth Dying For" by Rise Against and "Drop That" by Nifty

Q: What is your dream vacation?
A: Trip to Europe with my whole Family

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: "Byeeeeeeeeeeee"

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

Q: Why did you pick your jersey number?
A: it was given to me

Q: What is your most embarrassing moment?
A: pooping my pants in a full body skeleton costume on Halloween when I was 10

Q: If you could have dinner with any 3 people in history, who would they be?
A: My Father, Grandfather, and Willie Mays