Monday, March 26, 2012
Hello everyone and welcome back to another week of “On the Bump.” Once again, heavy rain changed our plans for the week. We were unable to practice on Tuesday, and our game against Louisiana Tech was postponed on Wednesday. However, we had beautiful weather this weekend for our three-game series with the University of the Ozarks.


On Monday, our JV team travelled to Texarkana for a doubleheader. As a result, our varsity team was on our own to hit in the cages and the pitchers long-tossed and ran. Our JV team is fortunate to play every week because it gives guys a chance to play in games that don’t get the opportunity to play on the weekends.

Unfortunately, it poured rain in Shreveport all day Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. We had to cancel practice on Tuesday, and our game at Louisiana Tech was cancelled on Wednesday. We are trying to find a make-up date that works for both teams, so stay tuned for updates about a possible future game time. Thursday was a light practice as we prepared for the Ozarks Eagles. We took a light batting practice and made sure the field was cleaned up and ready to go.


Friday was excellent weather as we began our three game series with the University of the Ozarks. We struck first as Jemari James delivered a two-RBI single in the bottom of the first inning. Dan Lazarou led off the second inning with a single, and he scored on a Craig Littleman double. Craig eventually scored on a Ryan Gasporra RBI single, and Tyler Clakley scored on an error with two outs. We led 5-0 after two innings, and we felt like we had the game under control. Lance Nugent was effective for us, even though he didn’t have his best stuff. He battled through 6 1/3 innings and only allowed one run. Sometimes as a pitcher, you don’t have your best stuff, but you still have to give your team a chance to win. Lance did a great job of that and battled for us.


We busted the game open in the bottom of the sixth inning, as we erupted for seven runs on five hits. Kyle Morton started the scoring with an RBI double that scored Ryan Gasporra. Tyler Clakley scored on a wild pitch, and Jemari James drove in Morton with an RBI single. Jeff Schaffert scored on an error, and Craig Littleman drove home Jemari James on a sacrifice fly. Matt Creamer wrapped up the scoring for the inning by delivering a two-RBI single to right field that scored Dan Lazarou and Marc Martinez. The University of the Ozarks scored their lone run in the top of the seventh, but we answered with another run in the bottom of the seventh to extend our lead to 13-1. Kyle Morton got the inning going with a double, and Jeff Schaffert drove him in with an RBI single.


Our young relievers threw well at the end of the game, as Trey Lavespere, Kamden Haglund, and Trey Guccione all threw well over the last three innings to shut down the Ozarks offense. Also, some of our younger guys got a chance to pinch-hit and play defense in the late innings of the game. It is important that we bust games open like that because it gives our young freshman a chance to get some experience. All of our guys work hard in practice and JV games, so it is nice to see them rewarded with some playing time in conference games. Offensively, Ryan Gasporra, Kyle Morton, Jeff Schaffert, Jemari James, and Dan Lazarou all delivered multi-hit games for us. James drove in three runs, while Tyler Clakley scored three runs.


In game two of the series, our offense came out firing on all cylinders once again. We put up four runs in the first inning and took the early momentum away from the Eagles. Matt Creamer led off the inning for us and was hit by a pitch. He stole second, and scored on a Ryan Gasporra single. Jeff Schaffert drove Gasporra in with an RBI single, and Dan Lazarou drove in Kyle Morton and Jeff Schaffert with a two-RBI single.


I started on the mound for us, and focused on filling up the strike zone. My back had been hurting all week, so I was little concerned as to how well it would hold up over the course of the game. Fortunately, our trainer Stephanie did a great job of taking care of it all week and it felt pretty good for the most part throughout the game. I held the Eagles scoreless through the first three innings, but they scratched out a run in the top of the fourth. In the bottom of the fifth, back-to-back RBI singles by Jeff Schaffert and Jemari James scored Ryan Gasporra and Tyler Clakley, which extended our lead to 6-1. That ended up being the final score, as we clinched the series victory.


I threw all seven innings and struck out eight batters. However, I consider the bigger achievement to be zero walks. Coach Stephens really hates walks and falling behind in the count, and we have been putting a bigger emphasis on that facet of the game over the past few weeks. Jeff Schaffert led our offensive attack, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Also, we played an errorless game in the field, which always helps our cause. Our defense is improving each week, and I look forward to more errorless games in our future.


Ozarks struck first in game three, as they took a 1-0 lead after two innings. Craig Littleman led off the third inning with a double, and he eventually scored on Ryan Gasporra’s sacrifice fly. However, the Eagles answered with another run to take a 2-1 lead after four innings. They added another run in the top of the fifth inning, but Craig Littleman answered back with his first home run of the season to make it 3-2. Kyle Morton added an RBI single to score Ryan Gasporra to knot the game at three. The score stayed tied at three until the ninth inning, when the Eagles busted the game open, scoring five runs. Kyle Morton crushed a home run in the bottom of the ninth, but it was not enough as we fell 8-4.


Chase Clarke started and competed for 3 1/3 innings. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win. Grady Flournoy threw a solid 2 2/3 innings in relief, striking out four while only allowing one run. Taylor Henry threw well for two innings, but the Eagles bats came alive in the final frame. Kyle Morton, Marc Martinez, and Craig Littleman paced our offense with multi-hit games.


Yes, we won the series, but we were still disappointed. I believe we were the better team, but every team has a chance to win on any given day. We didn’t execute in the last game and the Eagles took advantage of our mistakes in the last inning resulting in a tough loss.


On the bright side, we have won all five of our conference series this year. We look to continue that streak against Mississippi College next week as we head east for our next series. They are one of the better teams in our half of the conference, so we know we will have to elevate our level of play if we expect to win.


Thanks to all of our fans for coming out to the ballpark this past weekend. We appreciated the support and it was nice to have a good crowd out at the games in the great weather. Stop by next week to hear how our series with Mississippi College went. Until next week, go Gents!