With such a vast history and tradition of winning teams, the Spartans baseball team will be chasing another national title this season. So far, they have shown good form in their first games of the season. The No. 1 ranked Spartans began their 2015 season with three comfortable wins over Bentley by the scores of 5-1, 13-5 and 15-2.
In the first game of the season, junior pitcher David Heintz got the win as the Spartans defeated Bentley 5-1. Senior catcher Nick Tindall and junior outfielder Casey Scoggins each had two hits and two RBIs.
Junior third baseman Nick Flair hit the first home run of the season for the Spartans as a part of their 13-5 victory over Bentley in the second game of the series. Junior second baseman Ty Cooler also contributed with two hits, three runs and three RBI in his three at bats. Senior Chase Sparkman was the winning pitcher for this game.
Senior outfielder Stephen Dezzi and junior second baseman Cody deNoyelles recorded their first home runs of the season in the Spartans’ 15-2 victory over the Falcons. Cooler also added four hits and three RBIs on the day. Sophomore pitcher Jake Mielock got the win.
“It was a good opening weekend for us. We learned a lot about our strengths and some of our weaknesses that we’re going to address,” said head coach Joe Urso.
In the second weekend series of the season, the Spartans continued their dominance with three wins over Georgia College. Tampa won the first game 5-3, with junior pitcher Michael Calkins getting the win. deNoyelles was the top hitter for UT this game, with three hits in four at bats, including a home run which was his second of the season.
The Spartans then edged out the Bobcats 8-7 in the second game of the series. Junior pitcher Kevin Martin got the win and senior shortstop Giovanny Alfonzo led the Spartans with three hits and two runs.
In the third and final game of the weekend, the Spartans grabbed a comfortable 7-2 win over the Bobcats. Junior pitcher Brad Hencke earned his first win of the season and Dezzi recorded his second home run of the season while batting in a total of three runs throughout the game.
While the Spartans have had plenty to cheer about so far this season, it must be noted that this did not come easily for them. As with any winning team, hard work has been essential for this squad. Although the results have been great, they still believe that there is some work to be done to further improve.
“Not satisfied but we’re happy where we’re at,” Dezzi said. This is the type of mentality that has helped this team win six of the last 23 national titles. “Our goals are always simple. Win that conference, win that regional and have a chance to go get a World Series title,” Urso said.
Such goals and expectations may seem typical for a team with such a vast history of success, however, this season is quite different compared to others. The Spartans are set to face off against the Philadelphia Phillies on March 1, during the first game of the Phillies’ spring training in Clearwater. In this game, Spartan players will get the chance of a lifetime to play against an MLB team.
“[It is] a big honor for them to invite us out, we’re just appreciative for that opportunity. And our guys, their dream since they were kids was to play as a major leaguer. It’s not easy to accomplish that goal, but for one day they’re going to get to go out there and be treated like a big leaguer,” Urso said.
“That’s an awesome opportunity to be able to step on the field with some of those guys,” Dezzi said. Dezzi also mentioned the possibility of seeing UT alumnus Preston Packrall out on the mound pitching for the Phillies.
Until then, the Spartans will play two home series against Southern Indiana and Stillman College and a road series against Georgia Regents.
Andrew Stamas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org