CU baseball learning with youth

Published 5:06 pm Monday, February 21, 2011

MURFREESBORO – They don’t mind losing the ‘ping’ – they just need to find some ‘pop’.

East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania swept both days of a Saturday and Sunday baseball double-header from Chowan this past weekend at Hawkins Field.  The Warriors took Saturday’s twinbill by scores of 7-2 and 13-2; then came back for the Sunday sweep, 13-0 and 13-2.

On Saturday, freshman Ryan Moore went 1-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI. Fellow newcomer Josh Catalano scored the other run, going 1-for-3.

Junior right-hander Ryan Bradshaw went six innings on the mound and suffered his first loss of the season for Chowan, allowing five earned runs and striking out five.

In the second Saturday game, Catalano came through again as he and Justin Shockley drove in the only two Chowan runs in the sixth inning as Catalano finished with a team-high two hits.

John DesChamps suffered the loss for Chowan giving up eight hits over four and two-thirds innings.

Added to all this: the NCAA has now mandated new modified metal baseball bats for the 2011 season and, while one of the biggest reasons for the change is safety, – fear of pitchers being injured because they wouldn’t have enough time to move out of the way of a line drive – the new standard has greatly reduced the bat’s “sweet spot.”

Gone is the distinctive ‘ping’ replaced by more of a ‘thwack’ like you hear with wooden bats.  And gone too may be the gaudy numbers associated with some of those mishits that became hits.

A year ago, Chowan led the CIAA with 150 extra base hits for the season. And while it’s still early in 2011, this year they have just five extra-base hits and this includes no triples nor home runs; but coach Aaron Carroll isn’t making excuses.

“Today (Saturday) we played about half freshmen and half sophomores,” said the seventh-year field boss, “and Justin Bagbey (2010 CIAA & NCCAA South Region ‘Player of the Year’) is out with an injury which hurts us, but we’re also not playing up to our ability.

“We’re better than we showed,” he added, “but our youth is very apparent right now.  We’re not hitting enough to overcome some pitching and defensive mistakes, but if we can get our bats clicking and do a better job of driving runs in that alone is going to make a big difference in wins and losses.”

In the first of the twinbill, Chowan got on the board first when Catalano singled and moved to second on a passed ball.  Sophomore Brandon Mack singled Catalano to third and Moore delivered him one out later with a shot to left field for a 1-0 Chowan lead.

After the Warriors pushed four runs across in the third inning, Chowan got right back into it when Thomas Bird drew a two-out bases-loaded walk to cut the deficit to 4-2, but a three-run seven inning ended up telling the tale of the game.

Chowan had threats aplenty in the second game, but surrendered six runs to East Stroudsburg through four innings before the Warriors finally blew the game open in the fifth with six more runs, including a wind-blown grand-slam home run.

“It’s still February,” said Carroll, “but it’s going to take some time, especially with a young team.

But that’s the thing about baseball,” he added with a grin, “it’s not long before you get another opportunity.”

Chowan (1-7) is off until they host Indiana University-of Pennsylvania in a double-header Saturday the Feb. 26 beginning at noon.