Coming off a 2-for-3 day against the Florida Gators, junior Jason Bagoly left the team Tuesday for a flight home to attend his mother’s funeral.
While all of the teams left in the tournament wear an NCAA College World Series 2012 patch on their hats, the Flashes have been wearing a small sticker with the initials CM on their hats and helmets in honor of Cheryl McHenry, Bagoly’s mom.
For the past few days, Stricklin and his staff had the tough decision of whether to play Bagoly against the Gators for an emotional boost. Finally, Stricklin decided to start Bagoly over junior Nick Hamilton for the game.
The move paid off as Bagoly got his first start and at-bats of the post season Monday and responded well by nearly belting a home run.
“Basically, it comes down to trust,” Stricklin said. “You trust in your players to make good decisions and to have good at-bats or to have a good approach in a good situation. With Jason, for 48 hours I wrestled with that, and I sat down with Nick and with Jason and I talked to them both, and both responded the right way.”
A true professional, Hamilton gave the right answer in, “Coach, I understand, and I’m going to be cheering on my teammates.”
What troubled Stricklin about the move is if Bagoly would have struggled after having not played since May 24 against Western Michigan. Finally, Stricklin acted on a gut feeling to start Bagoly.
“It was a big lift for our team,” Stricklin said. “I did it for our team. Every decision you have to make for your team, you have to have your team in mind, but you also have individuals. I thought about Jason as an individual, and I thought about our team, and I know Jason wanted to do it, and I know his family wanted to see him to do it, but I also knew if he went out there, it would give our team a little bit of a boost, too.”
ESPN’s Karl Ravech, who has been at the sports network for several years and seen hundreds of games, commented on Bagoly’s swing, noting how smooth it was.
“I just had a hunch,” Stricklin said. “I had one of those gut feelings that this might work out, and I knew our kids would be behind him, I knew our kids wanted to win the game, and it was extra motivation.”
Hamilton is expected to return to the starting lineup as the designated hitter against South Carolina.
Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected]