BUIES CREEK - The last full week of the fall semester for Campbell Baseball was set up as a competition between the position players and the pitching staff in the first-ever Campbell Baseball Challenge Week.
The week was set up with a different challenge each day, pitting the pitchers against the position players in a battle for fall dominance. Day One's challenge was the timed mile, in which each player was running both against the clock and against his previous best time, earning points for beating his goal time and best time. Day Two was challenge suicide sprints. The pitchers were given the right to "call out" a position player in a head to head matchup. Day Three was competition hills. The coaching staff divided the teams into six evenly matched groups with equal number of pitcher and position players, with the winner of each group earning points for their respective teams. The final day presented two different challenges for the teams. Challenge one for the day was an obstacle course that included a medicine ball toss, farmer's walk, box jumps, rope slams, and a towel push. The final challenge of the week was a classic tug-o-war.
Day One was thought to have put the pitchers in the advantage with the timed one mile run. The position player team, however, was the group that rose to the challenge with 10 of 17 players matching or beating their best previous time. Led by junior outfielder Ben McQuown, who posted a 5:38 mile (besting his previous low by 17 seconds), the position players jumped to a big opening day lead. The pitchers only posted four of 17 positive scores, as they were led by junior RHP Ryan Mattes posting a 5:40 mile—lowering his personal best by 6 seconds. The effort of the position players gave them a comfortable 131 point lead after Day One.
Day Two offered the pitchers a chance to get back in the game, allowing them to choose their individual competitor off the position player team in a head to head 80-yard suicide sprint. The winner of each head to head match up would earn ten points for their respective team. Much as in Day One, the position players asserted their dominance, posting wins in ten of 15 races. Winners for the position player team included: Ben McQuown, Michael Felton, Jake Kirkland, Austin Beard, Brent Graham, Jimmy Brenneman, Blake Boyce, David Olson, Josh Holskey, and Erick Gaylord.
Day Three was one of the most physically grueling challenges. The teams were separated into six equal groups with each group required to run 31 80-yard uphill sprints. The winner of each sprint earned three points for their respective team. At the end of the 186 combined hills, the tally came out dead even at 93 position player wins, and 93 pitcher wins. The position players were led again by junior outfielder Ben McQuown with 14 wins, while the pitchers were paced by freshman LHP Curtis Linthicum's 14 victories.
Entering the fourth and final day, the position players held a commanding 449-268 advantage over the pitchers. The last day started with the obstacle course, in which the pitchers earned the victory. Senior RHP Frank Zier led the pitching staff to a 1 ½ court length victory over the position players, who were ultimately undone by an imbalance in the medicine ball toss portion of the course. The pitching staff's victory in the obstacle course moved them within 100 points of the position players with the tug-o-war as the only remaining event.
The classic tug-o-war competition started out relatively even, with the pitchers exerting a strong initial pull, gaining a two foot advantage over the position players. Just as they had been doing all week, however, the position players dug in and regained the advantage. Anchored by junior Jake Kirkland and senior Jimmy Brenneman, the position players established their dominance by toppling the pitching staff in the final event of the week. Thus, the position player team earned the inaugural title of Challenge Week Champions, with a final margin of victory of over 200 points. The Challenge Week Most Valuable Player went to junior outfielder Ben McQuown.
The Fighting Camels return to school in January to begin preparations for their return to the Big South Conference. Opening Day is February 17th, as Marist University comes to Taylor Field for a three-game season opening series.