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Spessard breaks University of Maryland triples record

May 09, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

Even though Gerry Spessard made the record book in 2008, he and the University of Maryland baseball team have suffered through a frustrating season.

The 22-year-old Smithsburg High School graduate set a school record with his ninth career triple on April 19 against Georgia Tech. The previous mark of eight was set by Charlie "King Kong" Keller of Frederick, Md., in 1936.

Although pleased with the record, the 6-foot-2 junior has been saddled with shin splints and minor stress fractures in his legs all season long.

"I started off real well, then I have been in and out of slumps all season," Spessard said. "I'm not seeing as many pitches as I normally would and I'm out of the routine because of the injured legs. I'm not as fast as I would like to be."

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Likewise, the Terrapins (27-24 overall, 8-19 Atlantic Coast Conference) are enjoying a winning season, but it could be so much better if not for one-run nine losses in the ACC, which includes two losses ended by a hit batsman with the bases loaded in the same week.

"It's been one thing after another," Spessard said. "Our record certainly doesn't reflect the type of team we have. We've lost so many one-run games, losing leads in the eighth or ninth innings. We've lost games we should have won. We're good enough to be in the conference tournament, but it won't happen this year."

One of the 2008 highlights came when the Terrapins overcame an eight-run deficit to stun Georgia Tech, 14-13. Spessard's eighth-inning leadoff triple to center field helped spark the comeback win.

"That was a good one," Spessard said.

Entering today's game against N.C. State, Spessard sports a .250 batting average with 28 runs scored, eight doubles, three triples and six home runs in 45 games. He has knocked in 29 runs and carries a .461 slugging percentage.

Spessard had five triples his freshman season at Maryland -- tying the school record for one season -- but injuries slowed his progression in 2008.

Spessard said the injury problems started at the end of January.

"I think running on the turf at our indoor facility aggravated my shins," Spessard said. "It has been a problem since the first weekend of the season. I've spent a lot of time in the training room.

"It started as shin splints, then it was minor stress fractures in both legs," Spessard said. "I just need to rest the legs. I will finish the season here and then take the summer off. After that, decisions need to be made."

Spessard redshirted his freshman year and still has a year of eligibility remaining. In the classroom, he is considered a senior.

"At this point, I'm not sure if I will return here for a fourth year or move on and start the next stage of my life," Spessard said. "I will sit down with Coach (Terry) Rupp and others this fall and make the decision."

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