On the Bump with Cole Thompson
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Easter Gents fans and welcome back to the 13th edition of “On the Bump” this season. It was a pretty exciting week as we welcomed nationally-ranked UT-Tyler to Shreveport for a three-game series. Although the series did not go how we had hoped, we still learned a lot.

Once again, rainstorms altered our practice schedule for the week. It has rained more than usual in Shreveport this spring, but luckily we have only had one game rained out so far. During our short week of practice, we mainly practiced under a “live batting practice” format. Basically, it was a scrimmage but with no base runners. By doing this, our pitchers were able to get good work in by facing live hitters, and at the same time our hitters got better by facing live pitching.

Friday’s game started out on a tough note as UT-Tyler struck first to take a 1-0 lead. Our offense answered back with a run of its own in the bottom of the first as Tyler Clakley’s RBI single drove home Matt Creamer, who started the inning off with a double. However, that would be the only run we would muster until the bottom of the sixth. UT-Tyler scored a single run in the second, third, and fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead. Unfortunately, they busted the game open in the top of the sixth with a three-run inning. We scored a run in the bottom of the sixth to make it 7-2, but the deficit was too great to overcome. It was the first time we lost the opening game of a series since the Trinity series back in mid-February. That is a testament to how well Lance Nugent has thrown for us. We can always rely on Lance to go out and compete and give us a chance to win the first game of a series. Nugent battled through five innings on Friday, and kept us in the game. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he still battled for us. It was his first loss of the season, which also speaks to how well he has thrown this year. Nic Parrott threw a solid three innings of relief as well.  Ryan Gasporra and Tyler Clakley, who each went 2-for-4 at the plate, led us offensively.

The first game on Saturday didn’t start much better as UT-Tyler scored two runs in the first inning and two runs in the second inning. Interestingly, they scored all four of those runs with two outs. Credit UT-Tyler for clutch two-out hitting, but at the same time, I need to make better pitches with two outs and get our team back in the dugout and on the offensive side of the game. I just left the ball up in the strike zone a little bit too much and UT-Tyler did a good job of hitting mistakes. They are a good team and I know that I can’t get away with making so many bad pitches against a good hitting team. UT-Tyler scored four unearned runs in the third inning to take a 9-0 lead. As a team, we need to pitch better and play better defense, or else games like this will happen. Our offense answered back with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to make the score 9-2.

Jeff Schaffert’s RBI single scored Matt Creamer, and Kyle Morton scored later in the inning on a UT-Tyler error. Unfortunately, that was all the offense we could muster as UT-Tyler went on to win the game 13-2. It was an all-around ugly game. Our pitching struggled, our defense wasn’t sharp, and our offense was held in check. Games like this happen, but it is a mess when all three facets of the game are not working at the same time. On the bright side, Trey Guccione and Trey Lavespere threw well in relief for us. We didn’t have any guys with a multi-hit game, and I am pretty sure that is the first time that has happened all season. However, that game was in the past so we knew we had to “flush it” and mentally prepare for the final game of our series.

In game three of the series, UT-Tyler struck first, as they scored two runs on a bloop single into shallow centerfield. Our offense bounced back and answered with a run in the bottom of the first inning as Matt Creamer scored on a Kyle Morton RBI single. We scored two more runs in the bottom of the third inning, as Ryan Gasporra scored on a Kyle Morton sacrifice fly, and Tyler Clakley scored on a Jeff Schaffert RBI single. UT-Tyler scored a run in the top of the fourth to tie the game at three, but we erupted for three runs on five hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 6-3 lead. Dan Lazarou scored on Ryan Gasporra’s RBI single, Craig Littleman scored on Tyler Clakley’s RBI single, and Ryan Gasporra scored on Kyle Morton’s RBI single. UT-Tyler threatened to take the lead in the top of the fifth, as they scored two runs to make the score 6-5. We knew it was make or break time, and we did not want to be swept at home. Nic Parrott threw a clutch 4 1/3 innings for us after throwing three innings the night before. In the bottom of the fifth, Jemari James scored on an RBI ground out by Craig Littleman to extend our lead to 7-5. Grady Flournoy held down their hitters through the middle innings and allowed our offense to extend their lead.

In the bottom of the sixth, Jeff Schaffert scored on an RBI double by Jemari James, and Jemari eventually scored on an RBI single by Marc Martinez. The score remained 9-5 until the bottom of the eighth, when our offense added three insurance runs to extend our lead to 12-5. Kyle Morton led off the inning with a home run, his eighth of the year. Marc Martinez’ sacrifice fly drove home Jeff Schaffert, and Dan Lazarou’s RBI scored Jemari James, who had another double in the inning. We held on to win 12-5, and we all felt much better about that game. Our pitching, offense, and defense played much better, and as a result we beat a nationally-ranked team. Nic Parrott, Grady Flournoy, and Taylor Henry all pitched well. It was especially nice to see Taylor bounce back from the night before and shut down UT-Tyler for the last 2 1/3 innings. Our hitters did a great job as well, as they pounded out eighteen hits. Tyler Clakley, Kyle Morton, Jeff Schaffert, Jemari James, Marc Martinez, and Dan Lazarou all had multi-hit games. Marc Martinez led the attack as he went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs.

We really didn’t play well this weekend. We had an opportunity to prove our worth against a nationally-ranked team at home and we did not perform up to our expectations in the first two games. We weren’t nervous, we just didn’t play our best baseball. It was disappointing because it was our chance to prove that we are a great team. I still believe we are a great team, but we need to win series like that to prove to the other teams around the conference that we are a force to be reckoned with.

This weekend we will head over to Dallas, Texas, to take on UT-Dallas in a three- game series. I am excited for this trip because I am from Plano (just north of Dallas), and it will be the first time I have had the chance to play a collegiate game in the Dallas area. UT-Dallas is having a great year and we know that we will need to raise our level of play from this past weekend if we expect to win this series.

We appreciate all the fans that came out to support us during our series with UT-Tyler over Easter weekend. We had a good crowd at all three games and it was a fun weekend even though things didn’t quite go our way. Check back next week to see how our series against conference leader UT-Dallas went. Go Gents!