Chase Hampton threw a really good game this afternoon to beat Army in Game one of the NCAA Regional, but he also had some pretty salty defense flashing the leather at times to back him up.
The All-Americans Cal Conley and Jace Jung turned a routine double-play late in the game, but this fourth inning masterpiece from Parker Kelly and Nate Rombach was the best double-play I’ve seen in a while from the Red Raiders on the diamond.
The situation: One out in the inning. Two runners on. The true freshman in a precarious position with 57 pitches and climbing early in the fourth inning. Jeremiah Adams steps to the plate for Army. Adams is hitting .312 on the seasons and ultimately goes 2 for 3 today, but his sharply hit ball to third doesn’t work out for him this time.
Kelly dives stick side fields the ball on the turf while simultaneously getting the force at third base, then throws across the diamond to Rombach who picks it clean like he’s a 10-year veteran first baseman and not a converted catcher.
Just look at the elite defense here:
There’s never really a question as to why Rombach keeps getting chances at the plate. He’s shown a high level of offense for segments of his Red Raider career around his slumps and is always a threat to leave the ballpark. His defense is a bonus.
Kelly on the other hand is the opposite. This double-play that ended an inning and saved Hampton’s day is exactly why he stays on the field and any offense he generates is the bonus. It’s not that he’s useless at the plate, because he does get some production, but it’s incredibly rare in the Tadlock era for a player to hit below .215 and stay on the field because his defense is that important.
Parker Kelly’s defense is that important.
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