Southern trip paying off for Mars baseball team
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The Mars baseball team was happy to get out and practice on an actual baseball field.
Only, the Planets had to travel approximately 550 miles — one way — to do it.
Mars wrapped up its annual trip to Columbia, S.C. last weekend. And, once again it was a positive experience for the team's players and coaches.
“Especially with the way the weather was in March, it was real good to go down there and get outside,” Mars coach Brian Hobaugh said. “The weather was kind of chilly down there. Normally, it's in the 70s and 80s, but it was like in the 50s and 60s. Compared to what we had up here, though, it was really nice.”
Other than the “colder” temperatures, the weather was fine and the Planets played three varsity games and three junior varsity contests.
“It was an awesome trip. It gave our kids a good chance to get at it. I know they were excited about it,” Hobaugh said. “We got to look at a lot of people in different situations, too. That trip is very beneficial to us every year. It helps us to get jump-started for the season up here.”
Mars has made the trip every year since 2003. The team loaded onto a charter bus on March 25 and made the long drive overnight to Columbia. They traveled a short distance across town to Heathwood Hall Episcopal School for a practice the next day.
“We practice at their field every year, and it's a very nice facility,” Hobaugh said. “They are just really nice people down there, and it was really nice to get out and do some things on the field that we needed to do.”
“It's like that first day on vacation when you go to the beach and are ecstatic and jumping in the water,” he continued. “We got to the field and the sun's out and feels good on your neck and arms.”
Mars' first game was against Heathwood Hall, and the Planets rolled to a 9-0 victory. The team followed that with a day/night doubleheader, trekking an hour south to play Orangeburg Prep in the afternoon and then making another short drive to play Calhoun Academy at night.
The Planets dropped an 11-10 decision in nine innings to Orangeburg Prep, but followed with a 9-4 win over Calhoun Academy. Mars (2-1) returned home March 29.
“We should have gone 3-0. We were up 4-0 on Orangeburg. We played a lot of people down there. We felt like we could have won and should have won, but we wanted to see what some people could do,” Hobaugh said.
“The trip is kind of like our spring training. We had a game plan to pitch certain people certain innings no matter what. But it's good to see people play.”
Hobaugh was pleased with his hitters.
“We got a lot of at-bats,” he said. “The second game went nine innings, so we played a total of 23 innings down there. We have a lot of guys who got well over 10 at-bats down there.
“We hit the ball real well. I am surprised at how well we hit in those three games. Usually, we're slower with the bats to start and the pitchers are on top of it. But we scored a lot of runs and did well.
“Sam Swiatek had two home runs there and Matt Eperesi and Connor McGinnis probably had five or six hits. Dave Bednar had two or three hits in the first game,” he said. “A lot of our kids hit well.”
Mars' junior varsity team enjoyed success, too, with wins over Lee Academy, 13-8; Heathwood Hall, 12-1; and Orangeburg Prep, 10-6.
“It's always a good team bonding trip, too. The kids really enjoy going down there,” Hobaugh said. “We are together for three days straight. It's good for team chemistry, no question.”
The early start was huge for the Planets, who are looking to defend their WPIAL Section 4-AAA title. That is, if they can get back out on a field for a regular basis.
“You come back and you're ready to go and then you get the weather we have, and you're sitting around and practicing indoors again. That's the hard part,” Hobaugh said. “You get all pumped up and then have to sit, sit, sit and wait. It's really hard to stay on the same emotional plane. It's all good, though. We'll be ready.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Steelers will make small strides this season
- Not to be left behind, speedy Steelers are on the fast track in NFL
- Starkey: Bucs still battlin’
- Steelers have plenty of new faces at wide receiver
- WPIAL coaches, QBs have concerns about using newly-approved footballs
- Monroeville firefighters hope hot photo calendar will help raise money
- Reputed leader of motorcycle gang returned to Pa. to face charges
- Why Steelers will — or won’t — snap out of their funk
- Arizona Uzi shooting that accidentally killed instructor ‘just stupid’
- Yukon kennel founder jailed for allegedly threatening workers
- Penguins GM insists new coach Johnston was no afterthought