A 5 game road trip came to an end on Tuesday. We went 3-2 for the stretch, which is solid, but not great. 4-1 would have been better, and 5-0 is what it really should have been.
We began the trip in Panama City, FL against perennial Northern Division power Shelton State. They were what we've come to expect out of Bobby Sprowl's teams. They have great arms and can really pitch, and if you make mistakes, their hitters will capitalize. Fortunately, O'Neal didn't make many mistakes and was able to keep their bats quiet while our own offense managed to post a big day. Robert Shipman started a great weekend off by blasting 2 homers, one of which was a monster-shot over the scoreboard in right-center. Trey Williamon and the rest of the guys had solid showings too. Game 2 was also against Shelton, and despite allowing a run in each of the first 3 innings, we kept the offense rolling on the strength of another homer from Ship and took the game 8-3.
That's about where we started to hiccup. We played Wallace Dothan next, and a shaky outing from trace McDaniel put us in a bit of a hole. Trace had trouble locating his fastball, which is uncharacteristic of him, but it enabled Wallace to sit on his breaking stuff, and if they know what's coming, they're going to hit it. Monte Reese followed Trace, and though he wasn't getting some of the calls, he walked 3 and gave up 5 runs on 5 hits in an inning and a third. To be fair, he had 2 guys struck out but didn't get the call, and each followed up by hitting a rocket for extra bases. We made a late surge, but got short circuited when Dustin Averett got gunned down at the plate on perfect throw from Dothan's left fielder. Oh yeah, Ship blasted 2 more bombs in this game to cap off a 5 dinger weekend. Awesome.
Gulf Coast was our opponent in the final weekend game, and they were, as advertised, a solid JUCO team. We got on top of them in the 3rd, then jumped out to a good lead in the 5th by scoring 5 runs. Martin Castro was solid, and kept them guessing for most of the ballgame. Up 7-3 in the bottom of the sixth with 2 on and 2 out however, we hung a first pitch breaking ball to GC's lead off hitter, who hit what is probably the first homer of his career to bring Gulf Coast within 1. In the 8th, we had a chance to stop them with Alder on the bump, but he wasn't as sharp, and Bryce got a bad read on a ball in center field, and GC managed to get 2 across to beat us 8-7. Classic example of letting a game get away from you that you should have sewn up.
The road trip ended in Gadsden on a high note. Daniel Szathmary got his first start, and he was outstanding, going 7 complete innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits while striking out 4 and walking none. On the offensive side of the ball, everyone hit. We pounded out 19 hits and scored 15 runs. Williamon hit his first homer and drove in 6 on the day while Vince smashed an opposite field dinger to drive in 3 of his own. All in all, a great way to end a road trip. Now we've got to take on Middle Georgia at home, play another week of non-conference matchups, and as Varny so famously stated last year "Conference is here, boys."