On Sunday afternoon the fifth-ranked Bulldogs finished up their first weekend of practice with another scrimmage, this one lasted four innings. Before the scrimmage started, I caught up with junior right fielder Hunter Renfroe and senior left handed pitcher Luis Pollorena.
Pollorena is one of the inspirational leaders for this year’s Diamond Dawgs, and players listen when he speaks.
“It feels good being able to bring experience; we’re all just looking forward to the season and using all the failing that we have had, and using it as motivation. We’ve looked at people who have failed in the past and are making it now, so we’re looking at that big time,” said Pollorena.
When it came to the excitement surrounding this year’s baseball season, Luis knows that the fans will be behind this team.
“It feels good knowing that everyone is behind us. It kind of stinks that the basketball team is struggling, but they have a bright future, that’s exactly how this team started, winning six SEC games a few years ago. It feels really good that the crowd is going to be here, and we know we can count on them. It’s going to be awesome.”
Another leader on this year’s Bulldog team is Hunter Renfroe. He is more of a lead by example type person. Coming off of a great summer ball campaign in which he had his number retired by the Cal Ripken Jr. league, Renfroe is glad to be back with his team.
“It feels really good; we’re like a big family. I believe that we have a good thing going this year, and I believe we can go a long way with this group. We all love each other like family, I believe it will be a good year for us,” said Renfroe.
Sporting a nice shiner on his left eye from getting hit in the face with a fly ball during Friday’s rainy scrimmage, Hunter said it didn’t feel too great as you can imagine.
“Not to good, it was the first time we have been out on the field, and the rain kind of messed me up a little bit, but its fine and just swollen a little bit. I guess you can call it a learning experience."
Renfroe also mentioned that he has taken freshmen outfielder Jacob Robson under his wing and will continue to try to help him develop.
“I feel really good about that, the young guys are learning a lot of stuff. I’ve got Robson kind of under my belt, and under my throwing program; trying to teach him all that I can. I believe that all of the younger guys are looking up to the older guys like me, in a good way, and we are teaching them a lot of stuff.”
Sunday’s scrimmage was mostly a pitcher’s duel mixing in with a little small ball, which ended with a score of 2-0 in favor of the white team. White team starting pitcher Luis Pollorena opened the game with three consecutive ground outs. He finished with one strikeout and only one hit given up in his two and 2/3 innings work.
His maroon counterpart Will Cox finished with only giving up a few hits, a strikeout, and 2 runs (1 earned). He retired the side in the second inning on seven pitches. All-American Jonathan Holder closed the door for the white team on a bases loaded ground ball double play of the bat of Matthew Britton.
Britton did not have the best day, committing three errors (2 at 2B 1 at SS). However, it is only the first weekend of practice, so expect Britton to get that worked out by the time the season starts. Hunter Renfroe and Adam Frazier picked up the RBI’s in the game.
Overall the Bulldogs looked very good, not swinging at many bad pitches, and communicating well on the base paths, and in the outfield. The Bulldogs open play on February 15th at Dudy Noble Field against Portland State.
Notes from Sunday’s Scrimmage:
• Catcher Nick Ammirati has progressed really well being the plate blocking balls. His swing is also improving too. He had a nice line drive single Sunday.
• Tyler Fullerton executed a perfect hit and run following Ammirati’s single that ended with runners on the corners.
• Pitcher Ben Bracewell looks to have regained all of his velocity he had before injury, also had a few very nasty breaking balls.
• First Baseman Wes Rea looks to be in the best shape of his life. He still has a great glove, and hit a massive Homerun in BP.
• Freshmen Outfielder Jacob Robson is by far the fastest player on the team.
• Demarcus Henderson and Brett Pirtle executed a very nice double steal on Holder.
• Pitcher Will Cox has very good stuff. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him make a few weekend starts.