York College baseball coach Mike Scappa believes maturity is a crucial aspect to any team’s success.
“They’re not kids,” he said about his players. “I don’t like to refer to them as kids. If you call them kids, that’s what they’ll be. They’re men.”
Scappa believes maturity is what keeps players — and hitters especially — consistent. The mental and emotional aspect of hitting, Scappa said, is why Dallastown High School graduate Brandon White is excelling for the Spartans.
“He’s very mature,” Scappa said. “He has a good head on his shoulders. He’s very even-keeled. If he doesn’t have a good at-bat, I know he won’t be immature and ride the roller coaster.”
White, a transfer from Millersville University, is York’s starting right fielder this season and is hitting in the middle of the order, usually the No. 3 hole. The junior is slashing for a .292 average, with a .407 on-base percentage and a .462 slugging percentage, with a team-leading 22 RBIs in his first year with the Spartans. He's a big reason why the Spartans are 12-4 overall, including 6-2 in the Capital Athletic Conference.
“He’s a money hitter. He gets big hits with guys on base,” Scappa said. “He’s clutch. You always feel like when guys are on base that he is going to come through.”
Decision to transfer: The 6-foot, 3-inch, 210-pound White graduated from Dallastown in 2016 and played his first two seasons of college baseball at NCAA Division II Millersville. White saw limited action as a freshman, totaling 23 plate appearances with four starts.
White then got 101 plate appearances in 26 games as a sophomore, but he said he struggled and was never able to get in a rhythm without consistent at bats.
“It’s a business,” White said. “I got 80 at-bats, but they were sporadic. I felt like I was on my way out as far as playing the following year. I only have four years to play and I wanted to play.”
White had offers from other D-II and D-III schools, but the opportunity to save money at home and the higher probability of consistent playing time is why he chose D-III York.
“I decided to come home, save some money and get an opportunity to play here,” he said. “Saving $10,000 living at home, you can’t really beat that.”
Adjustment to new team: Scappa said it can sometimes be difficult for transfers to establish themselves in a new program. When White came to York in the fall, however, Scappa said his “pure baseball” mentality made him fit in right away.
“The guys gravitate toward a leader like him,” Scappa said. “He sets a great example. He leads with his actions and his maturity, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
White said the main difference between D-II pitching and D-III pitching is the velocity. He said he’s had to adjust to being thrown more breaking balls since playing for York.
“I wouldn’t say it’s easier; it’s different,” White said. “Guys obviously throw harder in the PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference). Down here, guys don’t throw as hard, so they throw more breaking balls. That’s an adjustment.”
White’s production: White believes his solid start to the season can be attributed to playing with a clearer mind.
“It’s nice playing without that thing in the back of your head knowing that if you screw up, you’re done,” he said.
White credits the hitters around him who get on base and protect him in the order: all-region outfielder Grant Oberholtzer, freshman No. 2 hitter Austin Denlinger, who leads the team with a .388 batting average, and sophomore clean-up hitter Jack Barry, who was the Capital Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year last season.
With those hitters around him, White said his role in the lineup is to drive in runs, which gives him confidence rather than added pressure. The stats back up his confidence, too. He’s hitting .372 with runners on base and is 4 for 7 with the bases loaded, including two grand slams.
“I’m in the lineup to drive in runs," he said. "I get excited when I get runners on base. I’m not the quickest guy in the world, so a single doesn’t do as much. When guys are on base, my job is to get them in.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at email@example.com.