On the bump with Cole Thompson
Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hello Gents’ fans and welcome back to “On the Bump”. It’s officially April 1, which means the season’s final month is upon us. It’s crazy to think that all of this time has flown by and I am in my last month of collegiate baseball. I apologize if I get a little nostalgic or verbose over these last few blogs, but I am just trying to soak up this last month and highlight all of the things that make our team special as we wrap up the season. It was a nice week for us as we were on spring break. While most students spend spring break at the beach or skiing, our team spent the week coaching a kid’s camp and travelling to San Antonio, Texas to take on Trinity.

On Monday and Tuesday our team spent the day coaching a kid’s camp for local children who were on spring break. It was a great experience for us to get to share our knowledge of baseball with the kids and give back to the community. The kids were pretty entertaining because it’s tough to predict what they will do next. The only downside to the camp was that the weather was not ideal and as a result a handful of our Centenary players were feeling ill and far from 100% heading into our big series with Trinity.

On Tuesday we headed over to Longview, Texas to take on LeTourneau for a mid-week game.  We scored five runs in the top of the third inning to bust the game open and take control of the game. The inning was sparked by hits from Tyler Clakley and Jemari James that each drove in two runs a piece. Freshman Holden Novak started on the mound for us and had another excellent start. Holden threw seven innings while allowing five hits, one earned run, and punching out six hitters. Taylor Henry took over from there and threw a scoreless final two innings while striking out two. Nic Parrott went 2-4 to lead our hitters.

We headed down to San Antonio at 8 AM on Wednesday morning via charter bus. My favorite part of the bus rides is getting to play the game “mafia”. It has way too many rules for me to explain on here, but I will just describe it as an intense game that makes the drive go much faster. We also got to stop at IHOP for breakfast, which was a pleasant surprise. We rolled into San Antonio around 5:00 in the afternoon and we went straight to Trinity for a quick practice. After that we trekked to Applebee’s for a quick dinner before heading to bed.

Thursday’s game was an intense pitcher’s duel, but we prevailed due to clutch hitting from our offense with two outs. In the sixth inning Tyler Clakley, Craig Littleman, and Jemari James strung together consecutive two-out hits to drive in all three of our runs and set the tone for our 3-1 victory. On the mound, Layton Tromba was superb for us. He allowed a run in the second inning and was lights out from there, as he threw a complete game while scattering seven hits and striking out four. One play that the box score doesn’t really show is a play made by our freshman second baseman Zach Stephenson. In the eighth inning, Trinity had a runner at second base with one out and the batter hit a ground ball sharply up the middle. Stephenson was able to dive and knock the ball down to keep it in the infield. As a result, runners were at first and third base with one out. We eventually escaped the inning without allowing a run, and that was due in big part to Zach Stephenson’s effort and heart at second base. Another great defensive performance came from our centerfielder Nic Parrott. He made several catches that kept runners from scoring and he got us out of several crucial situations.

Friday’s game was much different as it was a game heavily dictated by momentum swings. We jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the third inning before Trinity answered with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. We eventually stretched our lead to 11-4, which we took into the bottom of the ninth. While it seemed like a safe lead, we learned the hard way that the game is never over until all 27 outs are recorded. Trinity scored seven runs in the final frame to extend the game into extra innings. While it felt like all of the momentum was on Trinity’s side, our guys did an excellent job of slowing the game down and slowly fighting back. In the 11th inning, Marc Martinez hit a two-run home run and Zach Stephenson added a solo shot to give us a 14-11 lead. Grady Flournoy finished up the final inning on the mound for us to give us the 14-12 victory. While it was not an ideal way to win a ballgame, it was great that we were able to show resilience and respond to adversity on the road. I started on the mound for us and threw 5 2/3 innings while allowing three earned runs. I felt under the weather all week, but I knew that I had to go out there and compete for my teammates. Grady Flournoy threw the final 2 2/3 innings of the game and recorded the win. Grady filled up the strike zone and gave us a chance to win the ballgame, which we eventually did. At the plate, Ryan Gasporra, Tyler Clakley, Craig Littleman, Jemari James, and Zach Stephenson had multi-hit games, while Littleman, James, Christian Sebastien, and Marc Martinez had multiple runs batted in.

All in all, I was extremely proud of our team’s effort in San Antonio. We had guys playing through sickness and injuries and they battled to the very last out. What makes our team so special is that guys play for each other. We have an unselfish team and guys want to do their best in order to help the team. I have been on teams where this is not the case, but when you do get to be part of a special team like this, you really learn to be thankful for the people around you. Our team is not about brick and mortar, but about flesh and blood. Our guys don’t show up to the field each day just to play for Centenary; we play for the other 34 guys on our roster. It’s really hard to describe what it’s like to be on a close-knit team, but if you have been on one, you know how special of a feeling it is.

Also, I would like to thank everyone for their support in San Antonio. Whether you were at the games, following online, or keeping up via social media, we greatly appreciated everyone’s support. We have three games this weekend with UT-Tyler that are non-conference, but they are still big games because UT-Tyler is another high quality opponent. Stop by next week to hear about our series with the Patriots. Go Gents!