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More than 200 people came out for the Military Appreciation Game between the SPC Titans and the University of Tampa Spartans JV team Wednesday, Feb. 6. The baseball team didn’t disappoint SPC fans with a 5-4 win over the Spartans.

“That is the most fans we have had at a game home or away in my three years with the program. What an experience for the guys! Donnie Kiernan, Jeff Cavanaugh and Clearwater’s Student Government did a tremendous job of supporting the team,” said SPC Baseball Coach Ryan Beckman. Read more about the team played on the college’s sports blog, the Locker Room.

The event was sponsored by SPC’s Student Veterans Association, which provided custom-printed baseballs to fans.

More military appreciation sports events are planned for later this month with food and drink provided. These are free and open to the public:

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game

Take yourself out to the ball game when the SPC Titans baseball team takes on the University of Tampa Spartans JV team Wednesday evening in the second annual Military Appreciation Game.

Admission for the Feb. 6 game is free. Gates will open at 5 p.m. and the game will start at 6 p.m. The first 200 fans will receive a SVA Baseball courtesy of the Student Veterans Association. Bright House Field is located at 601 N Old Coachman Rd, Clearwater, and is just seconds away from the SPC Clearwater Campus. The West Gate will be the only gate open for this event. Please park in the old coachman parking lot next to the Phillies Water fountain.

Read more about the game on the college’s sports blog the Locker Room.

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A childhood dream has come true for St. Petersburg College baseball star Bryan LaHair. The Chicago Cubs first baseman has been selected for the National League All-Star roster, which includes some of the biggest names in baseball, the Tampa Bay Times reported this weekend.

The game is Tuesday, July 10, in Kansas City.

“It gives you chills,” LaHair said Sunday in Chicago. “You get a chance to quickly reflect, and I’m sure I’ll reflect more later on, but you think about all the work you put in and the adversity you’ve been through and the different adventures you’ve had along the way to get your first opportunity in the big leagues, and now an All-Star Game is just incredible.”
The report said LaHair was “one of the most unexpected selected.”

He was voted to the National League team by the players as a reserve.

In 2002, LaHair played at SPC. A 39th-round pick by Seattle, he spent most of the next nine years in the minors. He’s getting his first legitimate chance to play regularly this season, according to the article. In the season’s first six weeks, he hit .365 with nine homers and 20 RBIs.

LaHair came to SPC from Clemson and played for the Titans along with current Angels catcher Bobby Wilson. Former Titans baseball coach Dave Pano, now a minor-league coach with the Jays, said in another Times article that 2002 team was “probably the best team I had overall.”

LaHair is the second former SPC player to be named an All-Star. Howard Johnson attended the college and went on to play for the Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs.

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Ryan Beckman was named the baseball coach at St. Petersburg College Friday.

He was interim coach last season after replacing former coach Rob Francis who was dismissed shortly before the 2012 season began.

Beckman, 27, grew up in Dunedin and played baseball at Dunedin High School and Pasco-Hernando Community College.

“Ryan did an exceptional job for us last season under very difficult circumstances,” Athletic Director Mark Strickland said. “We had a lot of strong candidates but felt Ryan had earned the right for this opportunity.”

Beckman said he was thankful for the opportunity. “I know the great history St. Petersburg College has in baseball and I’m excited to be able to work hard to maintain that,” he said.

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The college again has shown the quality of its baseball program with three players chosen in the first 10 rounds of Major League Baseball’s annual draft.

The draft concluded Wednesday night. 

The players chosen included:

Sean Buckley

1. SEAN BUCKLEY, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound Tampa resident, was taken in the sixth round by the Cincinnati Reds. He joined the squad as a redshirt sophomore transfer from the University of South Florida. He plays third base and the outfield. In 51 games, he batted .362, led the team in doubles (18), home runs (10) and RBIs (52). He had 11 stolen bases.

 

 

 

Jon Matthews

2. JON MATTHEWS, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound outfielder, was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the eighth round. He came to SPC in January as a transfer from Charleston Southern University. Matthews, who was the first recruit to be signed by Coach Rob Francis, hit .344, and knocked in 40 runs in 50 games. He finished second on the team in stolen bases with 24.

 

 

 

Brett Lee

3. BRETT LEE, a 6-foot-4, left-handed pitcher from Pensacola, was taken in the 10th round by the Minnesota Twins. He transferred to SPC from Bishop State Community College in Alabama. Lee led the team in innings pitched (80) and strikeouts (75), and his 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio impressed many local pro scouts.

With any community college athletic program, restocking the program is always the toughest job. Coach Francis, who took over the program last year after it was placed on probation for two years when Coach Dave Pano resigned, has focused on attracting players from the home fields of Pinellas County – more than half the players on next year’s roster will hail from SPC’s home county. Francis says credit for finding that good close-to-home talent goes to Ryan Beckman, the team’s recruiting coordinator.

“We firmly believe that this group of 25 freshmen will really be able to make a run at a State Championship in our first year of ‘re-eligibility’ in 2013,” Francis said. “We don’t make excuses about the (probation) situation; we are doing all we can to attract the best players we can find. Half our roster will be Pinellas County kids – when I took this job, we had one player from Pinellas County.”

Looking hard at the talent available in Pinellas County is part of SPC’s role in serving the local community, not just in athletics but in every other way as well, according to Francis.

“The biggest thing, I think, is that the community college is here to serve the community,” he said. “Some of the best baseball players are right here. Why venture beyond? I don’t really understand that. Local kids want to play on the fields where they have played all their lives, and be around their family and friends.

“I think that means a lot.”

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Austin Wood

     The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t have to look too far to find their selection in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball Draft Tuesday.

     With the 131st overall pick, the Rays picked St. Petersburg College right-hander Austin Wood.

     The 6-foot-4, 220-pound sophomore’s fastball has been clocked at 97 mph. He pitched in 16 games last season with 42 strikeouts in 43 innings. He was 3-4 with a 4.81 ERA.

     The Niceville, Fla., native has an offer to attend the University of Southern California n the fall on a baseball scholarship if he doesn’t accept the Rays’ offer.

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