On the bump with Cole Thompson
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hello Gents’ fans and welcome back to “On the Bump”.  I apologize for the blog being a little late; it has been a long week academically and I had to take care of that first. As most of y’all know, we played a very tough series against the University of Dallas this past week, and it will not get any easier for us at the #6 nationally ranked Trinity Tigers roll into Shreveport this upcoming weekend.

In the week leading up to our series against Dallas our practices were very hit or miss. We had a crisp practice on Tuesday, but Wednesday’s scrimmage was long, cold, and far from our best. Our pitchers and defense did okay, but our hitters were a little off with their timing and approach. Fortunately, it was just a scrimmage so it allowed our coaches to work with the hitters and correct our mistakes. Thursday and Friday were much smoother and it gave our team some confidence heading into the weekend.

The first game on Saturday was definitely a pitcher’s duel, as Layton Tromba went out and threw really well for us. Unfortunately, we lost 2-1. Both teams recorded six hits, but we went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Our approaches were better, but we did not execute our situational hitting very well. On a positive note, I know we are absolutely capable of situational hitting, so I am not too worried about it at this point. Dallas scored both of their runs on a chopper that took a bad hop and rolled into the outfield. It was not a very fun way to lose a game, but sometimes you have to lose a few close ones in order to realize that you can’t just go through the motions and expect to win. Offensively, Jemari James went 2-for-3 while Tyler Clakley recorded two walks.

Game two on Saturday ultimately ended in our favor, as we squeaked out a 4-3 win in extra innings over the Crusaders. It was another long, dramatic affair, but this time we prevailed. Ryan Gasporra jumpstarted our offense when he hit his first homerun of the year in the bottom of the first inning. On the mound, freshman Paul Arcement provided us with a solid start as he went five innings while allowing one run and striking out four batters. Sophomore Taylor Henry was “lights out” in relief, as he worked the final five innings of the game, allowing one run while striking out seven. We entered the eighth inning trailing 3-2, but Craig Littleman quickly changed that with an RBI double that scored Nic Parrott. In the bottom of the tenth, Louis Gonzalez hit a slow roller to shortstop, and an ensuing throwing error allowed Christian Sebastien to score the winning run. It was truly a team win – our pitching was solid, our defense played well, and our offense delivered when we needed them to come through. Did we play up to our potential? No. But it is nice to see that we can find a way to win a ballgame when we do not have our “A-game”. We did have 12 hits, led by Kiefer Moore (3), Ryan Gasporra (2), and Craig LIttleman (2). I think there were a few times we could have broken the game open, but I am still proud of our team for fighting until the very end. It was a long, cold day at the ballpark so it was big to win game two of the series.

Sunday’s game was more of the same, as we once again prevailed in our last at-bat, winning 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th inning. For the second day in a row Ryan Gasporra got our offense going with a homerun, this time a two-run long ball that drove home Matt Creamer. Kiefer Moore extended our lead to 3-0 in the second inning with an RBI single, but Dallas answered with two runs in the third inning. The score remained 3-2 in our favor throughout a majority of the game. I started on the mound for us, and my job as a starting pitcher is to go deep into the game and give our team a chance to win the game. It was a battle, but I ended up pitching into the eighth inning and left the game in a 3-3 tie. Grady Flournoy recorded the last out of the eighth inning and gave us a little bit of momentum. I finished with 7 2/3 innings and six strikeouts. Chase Clarke came in to pitch in a crucial situation in the ninth inning, as he inherited runners on first and second base with no outs. Chase pitched out of the situation without allowing a runner to reach third base and the game carried on into the bottom of the ninth. I was really proud of Chase because he has really matured a lot. He has been clutch for us in several situations already this year, and it was huge for us that he quieted their rally in the ninth inning. In the bottom of the ninth, Jemari James led off the inning with a triple into the right field corner. It was a long run for Jemari to reach third base, but once he reached third he noticed that the relay throw from the outfield sailed over the third baseman. The throwing error allowed Jemari to dash home and secure our 4-3 win. It wasn’t exactly “beautiful”, but we managed to win the series 2-1. As I said earlier, it is a positive sign to see that we can compete when we do not have our best stuff. We did not play bad, but there are definitely some areas that we can improve on this week during practice. Tyler Clakley, Jemari James, and Kiefer Moore each had multi-hit games to lead our offense.

Dallas was definitely a solid test for us, as I stated they would be in last week’s blog. They were a fundamentally sound team and I know that when we play them again in April it will be another quality series.

Now our attention turns to the Trinity Tigers. As I said earlier, they are nationally ranked #6 so I don’t really need to hype up this series at all. They are a quality team that has proved they play a consistently high level of baseball. They have a few All-Americans and solid players, so there is no secret that it will be our toughest test to date. I am excited for our guys to go out there and compete against another quality team. While everyone qualifies for the SCAC post-season tournament, our five games against Trinity will go a long way in determining seeding for the tournament.

We have a few areas of our game that we can clean up, and I expect our week of practice to be intense and competitive as we prepare for the Tigers. It will be a really good weekend of baseball this weekend at Shehee Stadium, so I highly encourage y’all to come out and support us as we take on Trinity on Saturday (1:00 and 4:00) and Sunday (1:00).  Until next week, go Gents!