Vol. LXII, No. 17
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
MURPHY’S LAW: Princeton University sophomore catcher Jack Murphy blasts the ball in recent action. Murphy has given Princeton a major lift this spring, hitting .398 with seven homers, 34 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of .639. Despite Murphy’s heroics, Princeton has been plagued by inconsistency as it has gone 16-20 overall and 8-8 in Ivy League play. The Tigers trail Columbia by three games in the Gehrig Division with four Ivy games left. In upcoming action, Princeton has a doubleheader at Cornell on April 25 before hosting the Big Red for a twinbill on April 27.
Jack Murphy found himself running out of gas at times last spring in his freshman season on the Princeton University baseball team.
“Last year I was catching all of the games on the weekend,” said Murphy, who batted .277 in his freshman campaign.
“I might hit well in the first two games of the weekend and then become spent. The Ivy League is tough, you play two games a day on Saturday and Sunday. If you don’t come out to play every single day, it is really going to hurt you.”
Hardened by some intense off-season conditioning, Murphy is hurting Princeton’s opponents this spring, hitting .398 with seven homers, 34 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of .639.
Last Sunday, Murphy kept up his hot hitting in a doubleheader against Penn, going 2-for-6 with a homer and 2 RBIs. Murphy’s heroics, though, weren’t enough as Princeton got swept 10-7 and 5-4 by the Quakers.
The losses left Princeton at 16-20 overall and 8-8 in Ivy League play. The Tigers trail Columbia by three games in the Gehrig Division with four Ivy games left.
In assessing Princeton’s up-and-down play this spring, Murphy admitted that things have been frustrating.
“The last two weekends, we’ve put ourselves in a real good position by taking the first two on Saturday and then we’ve kind of dug ourselves a hole on Sunday,” added Murphy. “We’re just running into a wall right now.”
In order to keep himself from running into a wall this spring, Murphy intensified his off-season conditioning program.
“This year, I came in a lot better shape,” said, the 6’4, 230-pound native of Lakeland, Fla. “I was making sure I was eating right, getting plenty of sleep. I did a lot of jump roping and weightlifting. I just came in mentally prepared for the season. It made a huge difference.”
The switch-hitting Murphy also honed his batting eye. “Last year, I struggled a lot from the right side of the plate; I didn’t get a whole lot of hits,” explained Murphy.
“I worked hard in the offseason hitting from the right side. This year, when they do bring a lefty in, it’s not tough to make that adjustment.”
Princeton head coach Scott Bradley likes the adjustments made by his sophomore star. “Murph is a terrific player,” said Bradley. “We’re going to enjoy having him around, that’s for sure.”
Like Murphy, Bradley has been frustrated by Princeton’s inconsistent play this spring.
“Some days, you think you’re pretty good, other days you’re not quite sure,” said Bradley, whose team has gone 10-19 since an encouraging 6-1 start.
The baseball gods were not smiling on Princeton in Sunday’s nightcap as the Tigers fought valiantly to overcome a 3-0 first inning deficit. Princeton scored a run in the second and added two more in the seventh to knot the game at 3-3.
Penn responded with two runs in the top of the eighth. The Tigers then pushed across a run in the bottom of the ninth on a Murphy single. With a runner on third, Spencer Lucian hit a liner that was snagged by the second baseman and David Hale was then retired on a grounder to the shortstop to end the threat.
“I thought in this second game here, we actually swung the bats pretty well,” said Bradley.
“It just wasn’t meant to be. We hit all kinds of balls at people the entire day from Spencer’s line drive and a bunch of good balls hit into the outfield. Sometimes baseball just works that way.”
With its division title hopes hanging by a thread, Princeton is going to have put in some good work this weekend.
The Tigers have a doubleheader at Cornell on April 25 before hosting the Big Red for a twinbill on April 27. Front-running Columbia (16-22 overall and 11-5 Ivy) hosts Penn for a doubleheader on April 26 before heading to Philadelphia the next day for two at Penn.
“We always talk about how good teams know how to forget,” said Bradley. “It’s kind of nice to be able to play on Friday. If we can put two wins up on the board, we put pressure on Columbia to really have to win.”
Murphy, for his part, thinks Princeton can apply the pressure on Columbia.
“This Penn team is a good ballclub; they have the ability to take three or four from Columbia,” said Murphy.
"We’ve got to go in there with the mindset of win or go home. That’s how it’s going to be, you have to win every single game.”
And with a slugger like Murphy in the lineup, Princeton has a good chance to win any game it plays.
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