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Area trio sets sights on NCAA diamonds

November 19, 2003|by CHRIS CARTER

Some guys can't get baseball out of their systems.

They don't think of it as a couple of months removed from the 2003 season as much as being a couple of months before the '04 start.

Gerry Spessard, T.J. Hose and Matt Yurish had their sights set on next season and beyond by selecting the colleges they will play for after graduation. Two will stay in their states while the third will head south.

Spessard won't have to go far to trade his Smithsburg purple and gold colors for some red and black.

The Smithsburg High senior committed to start his college baseball career at the University of Maryland.

Spessard, who also seriously considered James Madison, said he thought the chance of playing baseball at Maryland was very intrguing.

"I just love the school," Spessard said. "They have a great baseball program and I'm looking forward to being there."

Spessard will use the scholarship he has yet to receive to become an accounting major.


He enjoyed an outstanding sophomore season with the Leopards, earning All-Monocacy Valley Athletic League first-team honors. He lead the MVAL in batting average (.492) and doubles (12). He also finished in the top 10 in hits (27), runs batted in (24), runs (18) and home runs (three).

Spessard was projected to match, if not better, those numbers last season, but was sidelined with a broken foot after the third game and was shelved for much of the season.

Spessard said he's looking forward to playing for the Terrapins, but realizes that the first priority is his education.

"They have a very good educational program down there," he said. "I am just going to try my best to be successful at everything I can."

Hose certainly wasn't without options.

The North Hagerstown senior mulled over nearly 50 NCAA Division I baseball offers before making his final decision - to attend East Carolina University.

The Pirates are expecting big things from Hose, but nothing bigger than he does from himself.

"They told me I'm going to be (the closer) right away," he said. "My ultimate goal is to set the NCAA record for saves and go on to the majors."

Hose said ECU was the perfect fit for him.

"Right when I walked on campus I knew it was for me," he said. "I think they have what it takes to make it to Omaha (Neb.) for the College World Series, which is also a goal of mine."

Hose received a baseball scholarship, covering 87 percent of his tuition, plus books and meals. He plans to major in business.

The only thing which may prevent Hose from playing at ECU is if he would happen to be drafted highly in the major league amateur draft.

Hose pitched 52 1/3 innings for the Hubs, allowing just 39 hits and striking out 66 batters. He went 5-2, including a playoff win, with one save and a 1.87 ERA.

That leaves room for improvement in his senior year.

"I think we have a pretty good team and we should do well," he said. "We have a powerhouse hitting team and if another pitcher can step up for us, then we could win a state title."

Yurish is heading for the hills, aiming to be the king of the mountain in West Virginia baseball.

The Hedgesville senior signed a letter of intent to West Virginia University, taking his ball, glove and high hopes with him.

"I'm going to be pitching there and hopefully I can earn a starting role," he said. "The most important thing, though, is I want to win."

Yurish narrowed his choices to three schools before realizing West Virginia was best for him.

"I looked into North Carolina State and Richmond, but I ended up liking WVU the most," he said. "I took a few visits there and I felt is was the best fit for me. I also got to know the head coach pretty well and I took a liking to him."

Yurish had a strong junior campaign with Hedgesville, posting a 4-4 record with a 2.12 ERA. He also had 81 strikeouts, which led the area while the Eagles finished 12-12.

Yurish said he's looking for bigger and better things at WVU, but first there's things left to do with Hedgesville.

"We got close to winning sectionals last year and I think we have a pretty good shot," he said. "I want to win most of my games and help the team as much as possible."

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