Tag Archives: Major League Baseball

Dylan Beasley Pitches for Nationals Affiliate
Elijah HirshIt’s not uncommon for college athletes to dream of a career in the professional ranks, but few ever get the opportunity to pursue that path. Count Dylan Beasley and Elijah Hirsh (19C) among that select group.

Just weeks after the completion of his junior season at Berry, Beasley (above) became the first Viking in the NCAA era selected in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft. Taken in the 32nd round by the Washington Nationals, the son of longtime Berry baseball coach David Beasley got his first taste of professional baseball with the Nationals’ rookie affiliate in the Gulf Coast League but quickly earned promotion to the Auburn Doubledays of the New York-Penn League. Notably, he was the only junior in all of Division III taken in the draft. Read more.

Hirsh (right) has signed a two-year professional basketball contract with Elitzur Kiryat Ata. The club competes in Liga Leumit, one of the top Israeli basketball leagues and a member of FIBA Europe, a zone within the International Basketball Federation. Earlier this year, Hirsh capped his history-making Berry career as the 2019 Southern Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, averaging 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds in leading the Vikings to a 19-7 record, an NCAA program best.

While Beasley and Hirsh pursue professional success, their fellow Vikings are gearing up for another exciting year of Berry athletics. Fall semester is already off to a strong start, with preseason national rankings in volleyball, football and men’s golf. Visit berryvikings.com for complete coverage.

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Collin McHugh pitches in World SeriesCollin McHugh (09c) celebrates after striking out a Los Angeles Dodgers batter in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series. Photo courtesy of the Houston Astros.

Collin McHugh with David Beasley at Berry's Bowdoin Field.

Collin McHugh talks with Berry baseball coach David Beasley during a Jan. 23 workout at Bowdoin Field.

A decade has passed since Collin McHugh (09c) last took the mound for the Berry baseball team, but the Houston Astros pitcher remains a Viking at heart. Recently, the 2017 World Series champion returned to campus and spent the day sharing his experiences and insight with current students.

“I really do love this school,” McHugh said. “I had a great experience here.”

McHugh played three seasons with the Vikings before embarking on a professional career when he was drafted by the New York Mets in 2008. He spent the next six years climbing baseball’s minor-league ladder, making brief major-league stops in New York and Colorado, before finally landing a permanent roster spot with Houston. His journey was chronicled in this 2015 Berry magazine feature.

Since joining the Astros, McHugh has compiled a 48-28 record with 567 strikeouts in 102 regular-season starts. He’s also made four playoff appearances, including two innings of relief duty in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series.

That outing got off to a rocky start – McHugh walked two batters and gave up a three-run homer in his first inning of work – but he finished strong, retiring five of the last six batters he faced. The strikeout he recorded to end his final inning sparked a memorable burst of emotion (pictured above) out of the former Berry standout.

“That was kind of a microcosm of my career,” McHugh said. “So you put yourself into trouble, get knocked around a little bit and then have to figure out a way to get through it.

“When I was able to get that strikeout, I think the emotion of the crowd and the emotion of the moment – the emotion of the whole year – kind of washed over me. It was just a really powerful moment for me in baseball.”

During his Jan. 23 visit to Berry, McHugh spent time with this year’s baseball team and interacted with students taking classes in sports communication and sports administration. Later, during evening remarks in Krannert Center, he stressed the importance of goal setting, hard work and thankfulness. In every interaction, his appreciation for Berry shined through.

“This is where I really cut my teeth on how to play and how to pitch and taking my game to the next level,” he said. “I’ve always had a special place in my heart not just for Coach (David) Beasley but for the whole staff and for the organization and the team here.”

More coverage

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Collin McHugh PitchingBrad Bohannon Portrait

Two Berry baseball alumni found themselves in the national spotlight this month, one as a player and the other as a coach.

Collin McHugh (09c), left, became the first former Viking to reach Major League Baseball’s postseason, pitching two games for the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series after tallying 19 wins in the regular season, third best in the majors. Read more.

Brad Bohannon (98C), meanwhile, was named National Assistant Coach of the Year by Baseball America and the American Baseball Coaches Association for his work at the University of Kentucky. Read more.

Photos courtesy of the Houston Astros and the University of Kentucky

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Collin McHughCollin McHugh (09c) enters 2015 as one of the hottest pitchers in Major League Baseball after capping his first season with the Houston Astros as the No. 4 finisher in American League Rookie of the Year balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. McHugh posted an 11-9 record in 25 starts for Houston, leading the Astros with 157 strikeouts and tallying a sparkling 2.73 earned run average, best in the majors for first-year pitchers who threw a minimum of 150 innings.

The first Berry player to reach the majors returned to his old stomping grounds in mid-January for a quick visit with longtime Vikings coach David Beasley and current players. Soon it’ll be off to the Astros’ spring-training home in Kissimmee, Fla., to begin preparations for the new season. Look for more on McHugh’s amazing journey in the next issue of Berry magazine, due out in February. In the meantime, let us be the first to say PLAY BALL!

McHugh’s blog.

Photo courtesy of the Houston Astros

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Stephen Gaylor

Stephen Gaylor (14C), bottom right, shakes hands with Braves scout Brian Bridges after signing a free-agent contract with the team. Also pictured are Berry head baseball coach David Beasley, top left, and assistant Shane West (99C). Photo by student Lauren Neumann.

As Collin McHugh (09c) continues his strong debut season with the Houston Astros, another Berry baseball alumnus is beginning a major-league quest of his own. Stephen Gaylor (14C) signed a free-agent contract with the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 11 and immediately joined the team’s Orlando-based affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. While at Berry, the speedy center fielder was a two-time All-Southern Athletic Association selection who ended his career as the Vikings’ all-time leader in stolen bases (89). He is the 32nd Berry baseball player to play professionally. Full list.

Alumni are also making news in golf and soccer this summer. Former Berry assistant and NAIA All-American Blake Smart (04C, 06G) has been named head men’s golf coach at the University of Memphis. He previously served as an assistant at the University of Oklahoma and as head coach at Kennesaw State University. Mark Bloom (10C), meanwhile, twice has been named to Major League Soccer’s Team of the Week as a defender for Toronto FC.

 

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“It’s Collin McHugh’s world, we’re just along for the ride,” declared a tweet from Major League baseball after the former Berry pitcher electrified fans with a second consecutive dominating performance for the Houston Astros. McHugh, who was originally drafted by the New York Mets in 2008 after his junior season at Berry, notched his first major-league win in his Astros’ debut, striking out 12 to beat the Seattle Mariners. His second outing – a near shutout of the Oakland A’s – earned McHugh not one but two on-field showers from teammates (see video).

Also riding high this spring is Meghan Nolan Boenig (99C), a former member of Berry’s equestrian team who recently won her sixth national championship as the first and only head coach in the history of the University of Georgia’s highly successful equestrian program.

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Collin McHugh Working Out at BerryBaseball alumnus Collin McHugh (09c) returned to his old Bowdoin Field stomping grounds for a quick January workout before heading south for spring training with the New York Mets. Collin pitched in eight games for the Mets last season, including a spectacular major-league debut in which he struck out nine batters and allowed just two hits in seven scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies. Track Collin’s progress by reading his blog or following him on Twitter.

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