The Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season begins today, while Minor League Baseball (MiLB) started its regular season on Tuesday. Several athletes with area ties are members of professional baseball organizations, including South Caldwell High alumnus Madison Bumgarner, who is currently a pitcher for MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks.
Following 11 seasons with the San Francisco Giants, Bumgarner signed a five-year, $85 million contract with the Diamondbacks in December 2019. And while he has a record of 8-14 in regular-season contests since joining Arizona, the 32-year-old Hickory native is set to start the Diamondbacks’ season opener against the visiting San Diego Padres tonight at 9:40 p.m. EDT at Chase Field.
Bumgarner was also Arizona’s Opening Day starter each of the past two seasons, and he has made seven Opening Day starts in his MLB career. In three spring training starts, the left-hander was 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA and 10 strikeouts against two walks in 11 innings.
Other current MLB and MiLB players with ties to the Hickory Daily Record‘s coverage area are as follows:
Bandys High alumnus Hunter Harvey, right-handed pitcher for Rochester Red Wings (Washington Nationals Triple-A affiliate)
Hickory High alumnus Zach Jarrett, free agent outfielder (was released by the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday)
Bandys High alumnus Hayden Deal, left-handed pitcher for Mississippi Braves (Atlanta Braves Double-A affiliate)
Alexander Central High/Lenoir-Rhyne alumnus Tad Ratliff, right-handed pitcher for Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals Double-A affiliate)
Lenoir-Rhyne alumnus Justin Dean, outfielder for Gwinnett Stripers (Atlanta Braves Triple-A affiliate)
Catawba Valley Community College alumnus Julian Smith, left-handed pitcher for Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers High-A affiliate)
Alexander Central High alumnus Zachary Hammer, right-handed pitcher for Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (Chicago White Sox Single-A affiliate)
Catawba Valley Community College alumnus Bryce Hensley, left-handed pitcher (pitched for Atlantic League of Professional Baseball’s High Point Rockers in 2021)
Here’s a look at how other local pro athletes have fared in recent weeks:
Auto racingMatt DiBenedetto, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver
After finishing in the top 10 of his first two NASCAR Truck Series races, Hickory resident DiBenedetto came in 30th at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19 before taking 31st at Texas’ Circuit of the Americas on March 26. The 30-year-old California native was one of seven drivers who didn’t finish the race at Texas.
DiBenedetto is currently 15th in the Truck Series playoff standings with 81 points. Chandler Smith remains the points leader in the Truck Series, which returns to action tonight at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway.
The Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 200 begins at 8 p.m. tonight on FS1.
GolfJ.T. Poston, PGA Tour competitor
Poston missed the cut at the Valspar Championship in mid-March, but rebounded to tie for 41st during the Valero Texas Open March 30 through April 3 at the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio. The 28-year-old Hickory High alumnus totaled 284 strokes (4-under-par) during the four-round tournament.
Poston fired a 70 in the opening round of the Valspar Championship before posting a 69 in Round 2, a 74 in the third round and a 71 in the final round. The next PGA Tour event is the Masters Tournament, which starts today and continues through Sunday.
Masters TV coverage begins at 3 p.m. today and Friday on ESPN before moving to CBS for Saturday and Sunday’s rounds. Coverage on CBS starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Kyle Troup, Professional Bowlers Association competitor
A full-time PBA participant since 2015, Taylorsville native Troup won his first career major title last year when he knocked off Dick Allen in the finals of the PBA Players Championship. Last month, the 30-year old was the 2022 recipient of the Dick Weber Bowling Ambassador Award, according to www.BPAA.com (the website of the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America).
The Dick Weber Bowling Ambassador Award has been presented annually since 2006 to “the bowling athlete who has consistently shown grace on and off the lanes by promoting the sport of bowling in a positive manner.” According to BPAA.com, “Troup’s unique bowling style and look have endeared a huge fan base which was evident to many when Troup made appearances at a NASCAR race and at last year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He spends time with fans posing for photos and is a great ambassador for bowling.”
The United States Bowling Congress Masters is being held this week at the Gold Coast Bowling Center in Las Vegas, while the PBA playoffs begin on April 10 and conclude on May 15. Playoff matchups will take place at Bowlero Jupiter in Jupiter, Florida, and Kegel Training Center in Lake Wales, Florida.
INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Jaquan Artis, Northern Arizona Wranglers defensive end
A former standout at Lenoir-Rhyne, Artis signed with the IFL’s Wranglers in January after recording a program-record 29 career tackles and finishing with 47.5 tackles for loss, the second-highest total in Bears history. The 24-year-old Kinston native also totaled 23 tackles for loss in 2019, the highest single-season total in LR history.
The Wranglers have won their last two games after losing a road game to the Vegas Knight Hawks by a 22-9 final in the season opener on March 18. Northern Arizona has earned home victories over the Bay Area Panthers (49-20) and San Diego Strike Force (45-28) over the past two Saturdays, and they are scheduled to host the Knight Hawks in their next contest on April 16 at 6:05 p.m.
Artis had a sack against the Knight Hawks on March 18 before adding two tackles against the Panthers on March 26.
Josh McKinney is the sports editor for the Hickory Daily Record.
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