A year of ups and downs

Published 10:52 am Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The overall record for Hampden-Sydney College’s (H-SC) baseball team entering this week effectively sums up the season so far: 14-14-2.

“It’s up and down,” Tigers Head Coach Jeff Kinne said of his team’s 2019 campaign. “I think pitching depth has gotten in our way more than anything. If we had a little bit more depth, then we’d feel a little bit better. But when we have our pitchers lined up, we’ve competed pretty well.”

Multiple factors have led to H-SC’s lack of pitching depth. Some of these factors were present before the season began, and some of them have come since then.

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“We’ve had some injuries, and we’ve just had some tough breaks on the mound,” Kinne said.

Nevertheless, the Tigers have been competitive. But more than that, they showed remarkable capability when they won 9-5 on March 7 against host Christopher Newport University (CNU), which, at the time, was the No. 3 team in the nation at the NCAA Division III level.

The rematch between the two teams took place April 10 at Hampden-Sydney, and this time, CNU was ranked No. 2 nationally. The result was quite different as the Captains took a 20-0 lead through three innings on their way to a 27-3 blowout win.

Kinne said the change from the first game to the rematch was not influenced by injuries in any major way.

“Trent Tiller got hurt and Charles Murrah got hurt a couple weeks ago and then out for the year, so that put a dent,” the coach said. “But realistically, it was the same guys who just had a really good day when we were down there, and they had a really bad day when we were here.”

Kinne confirmed the two CNU games have been, so far, the 2019 Tigers’ best and worst performances, respectively.

  The coach readily cited some key players who have helped Hampden-Sydney deliver its best play of the year.

“As of right now, Matt Spagnolo is leading the conference in batting average overall,” Kinne said of his junior outfielder. “He’s hitting .400.”

And Spagnolo has the company of teammates near the top of that list.

“Tyler Blevins is third, Chase Counts is fourth in conference play,” the coach said. “Hitting has been contagious for us this year. When we hit, we hit, and when we don’t, we don’t.”

Standing out on the mound has been junior Chase Mayberry, Tiller, a freshman, and sophomore Bradford Webb.

The Tigers host the University of Lynchburg on Wednesday at 4 p.m.