On the bump with Cole Thompson
Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hello Gents’ fans and welcome back to “On the Bump”. I apologize that this edition is a little late, but it has been a busy week academically and with the Centenary Athletic Banquet on Monday.  The last week has been unreal; our weekend series against Austin College really covered the whole spectrum of emotions. In this blog I will tell you about our weekend and summarize what this season has meant to us up to this point.

We did not get to practice much as a team this week because we had an off day, JV game, and Mother Nature brought a torrential downpour to the Shreveport area during the week. However, our guys did a great job of still finding a way to get their work in whether it was hitting in the cages or throwing in the gym.

We knew going into the weekend that we had to win both games to clinch the #1 seed for the conference tournament, so the focus level was high all weekend. Layton Tromba came out in game one of the series against Austin College and threw a gem for us. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and he really did a great job of commanding the strike zone. Offensively, Tyler Clakley provided the power early for us as he hit an RBI triple and an RBI double in his first two at-bats to spot us a 4-0 lead. Christian Sebastien went 2-for-4 as well to lead the offense. Austin College scratched three runs across in the seventh inning, but Tromba finished the game on cruise control and made our 4-3 lead hold up. It was great to go out and get the first game of the weekend and set up a dramatic finale for Senior Day the next day. My only concern is that we played a little tight at times. No matter what is on the line, you have to go out and play your game. Don’t change your approach to the game because it may be a little bit bigger of a game.

Game two of the weekend proved to be all it was hyped up to be, as emotions were high and you could feel that something was a little bit different about the atmosphere in the locker room and dugout before the game. I felt like everyone’s focus, attention, and even nerves were bumped up to another level. I started on the mound for us and after an unearned run in the first inning I was able to settle into a rhythm and find my groove. We were able to take a 2-1 lead after a Marc Martinez sacrifice fly in the third inning, and we never relinquished the lead. RBI hits by Ryan Gasporra, Matt Creamer, and Zach Stephenson extended our lead to 5-1 in the eighth inning. Matt Creamer, Ryan Gasporra, Craig Littleman, and Zach Stephenson all had multi-hit games for us.

The ninth inning was surreal and a sequence of events that I will never forget. I was able to record the final out of the game on a strikeout, and the next thing I knew all of my teammates were dog piling on top of me. It was a storybook ending to a memorable home season for our seniors. It’s crazy that fate worked out to where we had a chance to clinch the regular season championship on Senior Day. I am really thankful for all of my teammates, and it has truly been an honor to show up to the field everyday for the last eight months and go to work with them each day. We see ourselves as one big family, and it has been a privilege to be a leader on this team. Like I said a few weeks ago, this team is about flesh and blood, and a heartbeat that beats strong. The passion and emotions of winning the regular season title on Senior Day is a feeling that I am willing to bet that each person will remember for the rest of their life. From my standpoint, it was an honor to be able to take the mound and give us a chance to compete and win. However, this championship wasn’t just for the 35 guys in that locker room; we wanted to win for our families, because they have supported all of us throughout the struggles and victories. We wanted to win for Centenary athletics and bring home the first regular season championship to Centenary athletics since 1990. We wanted to win for all the people that said it wasn’t possible to have successful athletic teams at Centenary. We wanted to win for all of our friends, coaches, fans, and supporters that believed in us from the first day we met as a team back in August. This regular season championship is also for all of the Centenary baseball players that came before us and helped establish a solid program. I especially wanted to give a shout-out to Jeff Schaffert, Kyle Morton, Dan Lazarou, and Lance Nugent; they are our four seniors from last year that graduated in a year we were ineligible for conference records or championships. This year was for y’all boys and we couldn’t have done it without the leadership you guys showed us last year. For the two and a half hours during the game, and the 30 seconds of elated celebration after the game, we felt like we conquered a few demons and established that Centenary athletics can and will be successful moving forward into the future. Like I said, this game was much bigger than just your typical Sunday game. I wanted to win that game more than I have ever wanted to win a game. I really couldn’t have imagined a better ending to Senior Day and I know that the experience from April 14, 2013 will never leave my memory. On a personal note, Sunday was exactly what I imagined when I decided to come back to Centenary for my final two years. I nearly transferred out when we announced our reclassification from DI to DIII, but I ultimately decided that I wanted to come back and be a team leader and establish Centenary baseball as a power at the DIII level. It was definitely a surreal feeling when we dog piled and I realized that this was the moment I dreamed of two years ago when I decided to remain a Centenary Gent. As for the senior class, I can’t imagine a better way to leave a legacy than winning the conference regular season title on Senior Day. We met as a group at our apartment the day before school started way back in August and outlined what we needed to do as a team and leaders to be successful and reach this point. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone, but it has supplied memories that will last a lifetime. This team is family and I love all of them from the bottom of my heart.

While it was one of our goals to win the regular season championship, we are still determined to prove ourselves in the SCAC tournament in two weeks. As the #1 seed, we know that we will be targeted and given each team’s best shot. We have played each team multiple times, so we know what to expect, but they also know what to expect from us. I can’t tell you how the tournament will play out, but I can tell you that it will be extremely competitive, emotional, and great baseball.

This week we have a mid-week game against cross-town opponent LSUS. There is a high level of respect between the two programs and I know it will be fun to go out and compete because there are lots of players that know each other from both teams. This weekend we will travel to play the University of Dallas in our final conference series of the year. We played three games against Dallas earlier in the season that were each decided by one run, so we know that it will be another competitive weekend. Stop by next week to hear about our final conference weekend and our showdown with LSUS. Go Gents!