By: Evan Rogers
HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. — In the Coastal Plain League, rosters aren’t set for most teams until about a month into the season.
That is, with players coming from colleges all across the country, and having their collegiate seasons ending at different times, some players are available at the season’s beginning in late May, while others join the CPL throughout the month of June.
Moreover, in the Salmadners’ 6-2 win over the Peninsula Pilots, it was Holly Springs’ newest addition who left the most powerful impact on Saturday night’s victory.
And, that player?
First baseman Alberto Osuna.
After striking out on three pitches in his first at bat as a Salamander, Osuna came up to the batter’s box with two runners on base in the eighth inning. At this point, Holly Springs was in dire need of insurance runs, as the Salamanders had just surrendered two runs to Peninsula, cutting Holly Springs’ lead to one.
On the first pitch, Osuna watched the baseball sail past him. Strike one.
However, on the second delivery, the sophomore from UNC took a forceful swing. As the crack of lumber splintered through Ting Stadium, Osuna’s ball lifted towards left field where it nearly sailed over the outfield netting.
“He’s got good power,” head coach Brian Rountree said. “I know what (Osuna) has in his lumber, and he’s going to be a great addition to our club.”
Osuna’s three-run blast served as the final nail in the Pilots’ coffin, as Holly Springs rode its four-run lead to the game’s end. But as the Salamanders’ fans may soon come to realize, Osuna’s home run in his first game in Holly Springs likely won’t be an anomaly— especially for one whose fresh off launching 20 home runs with North Carolina this past season.
And, for someone who’s played in front of sold out crowds at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, the much smaller, yet energized, Ting Stadium faithful served as a pleasant surprise.
“I wasn’t expecting this much of a crowd but they showed up and it was amazing,” Osuna said. “Right when I hit (the homer) and heard the roar was awesome.”
With the win, the Salamanders remained perfect at home and extended their win streak to four games.
Likewise, Holly Springs now sits atop of the CPL’s East Division — an accomplished right fielder Will Stewart described as a product of the team’s dedication.
“We’ve put in a lot of work and hours in the cage,” he said.
Yet, when it was all said and done, it was Osuna who gave a warm — and powerful — welcome to Holly Springs with just a single swing. A swing that skyed a three-run bomb to a near identical destination Rountree had called for Osuna to hit homers at earlier Saturday morning.
“When he first pulled up today, Osuna called me and said, ‘Coach, I’m here at the stadium, and out by the left-field fence parked,’” Rountree said. “And I responded by saying, ‘You see that parking lot. That’s where I want you to leave baseballs.’”