Men’s baseball seniors sign off with last 2017-18 season game


Abe Kenmore

Joe Metts ’17 and his parents, Bob Metts and Leasa Metts, attend senior game day and wave goodbye to the baseball coaches on April 22, 2017. Photo by Abe Kenmore/Guilfordian

Despite the promised rain, the clouds held off on Saturday, April 22, for Guilford College baseball to tally two wins over Bridgewater College for their Senior Day game.

Between the games, the ten seniors — three of whom had been on the team all four years — were joined on the field by their families, to be recognized by their teammates and the coaching staff.

“(The seniors are a) good group of guys,” said head coach Nick Black ‘02. “Some of them are transfers, but they’ve all obviously benefited us in a great way … They’ve been awesome. I hate to see them go.”

During the past four years, the team has not been able to make it to the tournament, sometimes just missing out by a single game. The wins against Bridgewater were particularly important, then, as they moved Guilford closer to a spot in this year’s postseason.

“The seniors who have been here for four years … they’ve never made it to the tournament,” said senior pitcher Eric Yost, who transferred here his junior year. “So these last four or five games, we really have to buckle down and win it for them.”

The team was coming off a much-needed win the prior weekend against Washington and Lee, where the senior players were able to shine.

“I was able to beat one of the top pitchers in the conference,” said senior pitcher John Todd. “Me and all the guys on the team were able to beat him, I got a lot of run support, so it was a really fun game … it kept us in the running to make playoffs this year.”

Todd was able to shine again as he pitched the second game against Bridgewater, while his fellow seniors Yost and Logan Jones, along with junior infielder and pitcher Trevor Denton, pitched the first game. Meanwhile, seniors Rocco Wilcox and Joe Metts scored in both games.

But the most valuable thing to many of the seniors has not been the wins, or the shot at the tournament, but the community of the team.

“(At UNC-Asheville) there was a lot more of a demand to win, and less of a, kind of, care about the individual,” said Metts, who transferred from Asheville’s Division I program to Guilford in the fall of 2015. “But here, there was definitely that desire to win, but we also want to do it in a relational manner (and) create more of that program feel, that was more important and went beyond just wins and losses.”

There have been some difficult moments for the seniors over the past four years.

“(Todd) got diagnosed with testicular cancer his freshman year, on a game where we had to go to Randolph-Macon (College),” said Black. “He’d been throwing the ball real well, and he called me the Wednesday before and said, “Coach, I have testicular cancer, I’m going to delay the surgery so I can throw up at Randolph-Macon.”

For Todd, sticking with the team during his four years was a way to unwind and get away from the stresses of college life.

“When I have a lot of work, I can always go to baseball practice and just block it all out for two hours and hang out with my buddies and just enjoy playing a game,” said Todd.

The seniors, in turn, have stepped up to help create that community for the next group of players, according to Black.

“We don’t have captains per say, but the (seniors) have done a great job,” said Black. “Leadership nowadays is not necessarily verbal, it’s by example, and the guys have come out and done what they needed to do.”

And the seniors did what needed to be done against Bridgewater.

But for most of them, this final weekend home game was one of the last times they will step out onto the diamond.

“I can remember, back in middle school, writing literature pieces describing (myself), and the first thing has always been ‘I’m a baseball player,’” said Yost. “Since I was five, that’s how I describe myself. So senior day actually happening is realizing it’s all going to be over in a few weeks. It’s tough, but at the same time, you can’t help but look back and enjoy it.”