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Smithsburg's Spessard does well for Terps

June 09, 2006|By LARRY YANOS

Despite a thumb injury suffered late in the season, redshirt freshman Gerry Spessard still enjoyed an outstanding campaign with the University of Maryland baseball team.

The Smithsburg High School graduate played first base for the Terrapins and finished with a .259 batting average ? including a club leading five triples.

The five triples were second best in the Atlantic Coast Conference and also tied a Maryland team record.

The 20-year-old athlete was eyeing an even better campaign, though, and was above the .300 mark until getting plunked by a Sam Walls pitch during an Easter Sunday contest against ACC rival North Carolina State.

"Things were going beautiful until then," Spessard said. "It was a fastball that ran inside and I tried to fight it off. The ball hit me on the thumb. It tore the nail and I needed stitches. I tried to play four days after that but I struggled the rest of the season."

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All in all, though, Spessard was pleased with his first college baseball experience and thinks the Maryland baseball program will only get better.

"We finished ninth in the ACC, just missing the tournament, but we were very young. I look for us to improve next year," Spessard said.

Maryland, with coach Terry Rupp in command, finished the 2006 season with an overall record of 26-30.

Spessard played in 51 of the 53 games and usually batted high in the order. He finished the year with 49 hits in 189 at bats, 14 doubles, 5 triples and two home runs.

He drove in 23 runs and scored 29 runs.

"I had never played first base before so that was an experience," Spessard said. "It may look easy to the spectator but there's a lot involved. It's not just fielding ground balls, the footwork is very important."

The 6-foot-3 Spessard was a letter winner in baseball, basketball and soccer while at Smithsburg and was a member of All-Washington County and All-Monocacy Valley Athletic League squads.

Following high school graduation in 2004, he looked at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and James Madison University in Virginia before finally selecting Maryland.

"When I came here, the coach wanted me to try first base." Spessard said. "It was a little bit of a challenge but I got more comfortable as the year went on."

As the season progressed, he said he got more comfortable at the plate, noting the velocity of the pitches from high school to the college level was quite different.

While he still enjoys other sports, the emphasis is now on baseball for the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Spessard.

After competing in 51 games this spring, the Agricultural and Resource Economics major is preparing to play for Watertown, N.Y., in the New York Collegiate Baseball League.

"I understand it's a strong league with some excellent players," Spessard said. "It should be a good experience for me."

With the goal of someday playing professional baseball, Spessard has already heard from a number of major league clubs ? including the Baltimore Orioles.

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