Casparius off to ‘Heel’ of a start
Published 5:37 pm, Thursday, May 10, 2018
Ben Casparius is no stranger to contributing to a successful club as a freshman.
Four years ago it happened at Staples, where he stepped right in and became a force both on the mound and at the plate.
History has a way of repeating itself and the freshman at the University of North Carolina is making an impact despite a limited role. Pitching out of the bullpen while being a pinch hitter, Casparius has excelled at both.
Following the Tar Heels’ win over Richmond on Tuesday, Casparius has a 1-0 record with a 1.74 ERA in 10.1 innings pitched while batting .333 in 39 at bats at the dish. North Carolina — currently on a nine-game win streak — has a 33-13 record and is ranked in the top five in the country in several polls.
“When we left for winter break I wasn’t sure what my role was going to be,” said Casparius by phone in Chapel Hill. “There are only three or four guys in the ACC that’s pitching and hitting. The hardest part is being ready; I just have to stay mentally ready”
The Tar Heels also sit in first place in the ACC, which most consider the best conference in the country.
Casparius got a feel for the collegiate game during fall ball, when the Tar Heels had extensive practices and intra-squad scrimmages. He earned six starts in the field at the start of the season before settling into his pinch-hitter role.
“Now everybody is throwing 90-plus (miles per hour), there’s never a free at-bat everyone here is good,” Casparius said. “And any pitch can be thrown in any count unlike high school.”
He made two appearances out of the bullpen during UNC’s series during North Carolina State, another team ranked near the top of the polls.
“You really have to make your pitch (at this level) or people will capitalize on your mistakes,” Casparius said. “A team like North Carolina State has everyone hitting above .300. You really have to be precise, we have scouting reports which helps.”
The ACC tournament will be followed by the regional and super regional tournaments. The top eight teams qualify for the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
“It’s been pretty awesome,” Casparius said. “To be No. 3 in the country and have the best record in the ACC. We’re in the final stretch and trying to get a national seed to host the regional tournaments.”
Casparius re-wrote the record books at Staples en route to winning the Gaterade Player of the Year as a senior. He helped the Wreckers lift the Class LL championship before moving on to Chapel Hill.
“He’s great in the box and great on the mound,” said Staples coach Jack McFarland. “He’s doing great; coach Fox knows he’s a gamer and can be put in any situation. He’s not just been a mid-day guy against any team, he’s in the big games against ACC teams.”