As is the story across sports and campuses alike, St Petersburg College athletes saw their athletic journeys cut short due to measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, this does not mean that the seasons themselves nor the efforts of our student athletes went unnoticed. Today this story highlights the personal and team achievements of the 2020 Titans baseball team.
From a team perspective, Head Coach Beckman's Titans posted a 13-12 record - the first time in two years the program was above the .500 mark for the overall record. This record featured wins against some of the top teams in the state during the nonconference slate. The Titans took down then #1 ranked Chipola on the road and turned around the next week to sweep a two-game series against Central Florida. Both opponents were picked to vie for the state title in May.Coach Beckman sums up this run perfectly "it really shows what this team is capable of when everyone is pulling in the right direction. The best part about those big wins were our freshman produced right alongside our key sophomores when it mattered".
Although hovering around the .500 mark is not where Coach Beckman wants the program, he believes the team was just hitting their stride in conference play, stating " we learned a lot of lessons early in the season, losing some games we probably should have ended up winning. But those lessons were starting to pay dividends for us. I think that showed in taking two of three against a hard-nosed South Florida St club". Like many teams across the nation, a promising year ended too soon for the Titans.
Despite the premature end to the spring season, many of St Pete's athletes had great individual performances and results from the 2020 campaign. Sophomore infielder Josue Rangel committed to NAIA St Thomas where he looks to be a mainstay of their program as he was for the Titans. LHP Frank Furey signed with Albany early in the spring and is more than ready to compete at the Division 1 level. His lefthanded pitching counterpart Travis Owens will leave the program to join Rollins' baseball program where he should fit as a powerful arm out of their bullpen.
Just as Coach Beckman predicted in early January, many of the program's freshman played a large role in the team's success. Gabe Rincones led the entire state in batting average, posting a .426 average at the plate ( 20 points higher than the next player). Rincones was followed by Chris Williams and Cal Gillium who had clutch moments against Pasco Hernando and South Florida St respectively. Beckman credits the freshman on the mound with the most impressive growth however "what Channing Young and Ivan Martinez-Suarez did for us week after week on the mound was a breath of fresh air. They gave us a chance to win every time they took the mound- that's a luxury at this level".
Beckman also credits freshman Leo O'Shinski and sophomore Jordan Powell for solidifying the Titan's bullpen. Both posted sub-2.00 ERA's this season, often coming in with the game on the line. Many members of the team identify those two as starting to earn the trust and confidence of the team in high pressure situations. Freshman Outfielder Justin Turk seconds this sentiment " it's a psychological advantage we have as a defense when a trusted reliever comes into the game, and that's what Leo and Powell were morphing into".
We may never know what the 2020 Baseball season would have materialized into. It had its ups and downs as does any season on the diamond, but the efforts of St Petersburg's student athletes ensured the opportunity to further their baseball and academic career was not wasted.