By Jerob Moon- Sports Information
ROCK HILL- The Piedmont Pride wrapped up another successful season in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League. The team played great, finishing second in the league with a 25-8 record. The team filled with 28 different players, from 20 different states, played hard all season and now focus their attention on the playoffs that start on Tuesday.
“I’ve been very pleased with the summer. To finish 25-8, when you consider that we have lost nine players to either season-ending injury or extended absence, it’s been a great summer,” Coach Joe Hudak commented. “For example, we started the summer with three really good Division 1 catchers. We lost two of them the first week, and just lost Kitt Capell this past week. It’s been a case of one man going down and another stepping up.”
The team started the season well and played hard even when battling injuries. After the first ten games, the Pride jumped out to an 8-2 start. The team was consistent all season, they never lost a series and only split three. The team is riding a wave of momentum into the playoffs after going 8-2 in the last ten games. The Pride are hungry for their first SCBL championship since joining the league three seasons ago.
One of the many reasons the team had success this season is because of the team dominance in the batter’s box. As a team, the Pride led the league in batting average (.310), homeruns (39), RBI’s (210), runs (263), OBP (.413), SLG. (.509), and OPS. (.922). On the bases, the team was elusive, leading the league in stolen bases, with 74, and the baserunners were only caught stealing nine times, which was least in the league.
The tandem of Roury Glanton and Joe Campagna were deadly for the Pride in the middle of the lineup. Glanton lit up the SCBL this season, leading the league in homeruns (11), RBI’s (36), tied for the lead in runs (29), and was second in batting average (.389). Infielder Joe Campagna was second in the team in homeruns (8), RBI’s (32), and runs (27). Outfielder Jake Wright also had a productive season, with 23 hits and 24 runs scored. He was also tied with the team lead in stolen bases with eight.
Coach Hudak has been pleased with the team’s offensive production. “Offensively, we have had a really good summer. I think the strength of our team is that we are solid offensively from top to bottom. We will certainly miss Kitt in the middle of our lineup, but I believe we will be fine. Obviously, Roury Glanton and Joe Campagna have had great summers, but Cody Littlejohn, Tee Dubose, Josh Baker, Brian Wood, and Jake Wright are all hitting over .300. And Connor Wilson, Brian Moore, and Hayden Smith have all been swinging the bat well recently.”
The Pride pitchers also had a good season on the mound. The team finished second in the league in team ERA (4.07) and strikeouts (271), and first in opponent batting average (.277). The pitching staff was led by starters Zach English and Cory Conway. English, a returner from last year, led the team in ERA (2.97) and was second in strikeouts (38). His ERA was also second best in the SCBL and his 38 K’s were good for sixth.
Conway also had a great season for the Pride. He showed great command and had his strikeout pitch working all summer. His 40 strikeouts led the team, and he only walked six batters. Position player Zach Shank also had a great season on the mound; he won three games and struck out 26 batters in 16.2 innings of work.
“I think the key to the playoffs will be our pitching. We don’t really have anyone with a power arm, but all of our starters are capable of throwing well,” Coach Hudak said. “Both Zach English and Cory Conway have thrown well every time out but one. Enrique Perez and Tommy Guglielmello have both been little inconsistent, but are certainly capable of beating anyone. Zach Shank, Tristan Helms, John Brocklebank, and Alex Nodarse have all pitched well out of the bullpen.”
The Pride also led the league in fielding percentage (.974) and only committed 25 errors in 33 games played. The solid defense is going to play a big key heading into the playoffs.
With the regular season in the books, the Pride now turn their attention to the SCBL playoffs. The Pride, with the second place finish, received a first-round-bye and will play the Carolina Vipers (25-14) in a three game series starting on Tuesday.
Coach Hudak acknowledges the playoffs are a new ballgame. “The playoffs should be very interesting. I think the top three teams in the league are all very evenly matched. We’ll play the Vipers in the first series, and they have a really good club. All but two of our games with them were very close. Obviously, the Bones are very good. They have a talented team positionally, and probably have the deepest pitching staff in the league. It should make for an interesting week of baseball.”
The Pride own home field advantage in the semifinal series against the Vipers. Game One will be at York Comprehensive High School, and Game Two will be on the road at Charlotte Latin School on Wednesday. If necessary, a deciding Game Three would be back at York on Thursday. All game times are set for 7 pm.