"Don't take an off day. Don't rest. Continue to grind because there is somebody nipping at your heels, they want to be on the field"
Saturday July 9, 2016 was "Driller Day" during the Collegiate Drillers doubleheader at Virginia Wesleyan College. Players from the 10u, 12u & 13u youth Drillers teams attended the games and were treated to a Drillers "Field of Dreams" event between games by the Tidewater Summer League commissioner Larry Collins.
Coach Ryan Henry also gave a motivational speech to the collegiate and youth players. He told them they would have to "Continue to Grind" to achieve their dreams of being college baseball players.
David Teel article appeared on July 6, 2016 on Daily Press Website -
Sinnen twins from ODU savor summer together with Pilots
HAMPTON — Kurt's Cuts was open for business outside the Peninsula Pilots clubhouse Tuesday afternoon as catcher Kurt Sinnen took shears to what few ringlets assistant coach Cory Brownsten has remaining.
"I may get you to do mine next," said head coach Hank Morgan, blessed with far thicker hair.
If he's looking for references, Morgan need only consult Pilots pitcher Sam Sinnen, Kurt's fraternal twin and Old Dominion teammate.
"I never used to let him touch my hair," Sam said. "But I think he's done my last two cuts."
The siblings' baseball trust has a far longer history. Youth, high school and college ball. Sam on the mound, Kurt behind the plate. Crafting strategy and assessing opponents with remarkably few disagreements.
"It's an uncanny thing," said Matt Sinnen, the twins' father.
And relentlessly successful.
From the Tidewater Drillers to Virginia Beach's Kellam High to ODU, Matt believes the twins have lost twice as starting battery mates. Twice.
Their first Pilots partnership, Monday night in Wilson, N.C., followed the script. Kurt drove in a run, and Sam pitched five solid innings in a 5-4 Peninsula victory.
Morgan had planned to give Kurt, elected Tuesday to the Coastal Plain League All-Star Game, the night off to rest a cranky knee. But with Sam making his Pilots debut after a month with the Cape Cod League's Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, Kurt insisted on playing.
"It's just a comfort thing," Kurt said, "having him up there and me back there. Just chemistry honestly, knowing what he wants to throw in certain counts and knowing his strengths and game plan."
Chemistry or, as Sam calls it, "twin telepathy."
Kurt is two minutes older than Sam. He's outgoing, sports a beard and conducts an interview shirtless. Sam is reserved and clean-shaven.
And their banter is quite amusing.
"I've been around him for 21 years," Sam said. "Some days I can't look at him. Some days he's fun to be around."
"I'll talk to anybody," Kurt said, pointing toward the snack stash in Morgan's clubhouse office. "I'd talk to that peanut butter jar over there."
"He's been that way ever since we were watching our older brother play travel baseball," Sam said. "I'd be tossing the ball and watching the game, and Kurt would be walking around with an umbrella selling shade to every fan in the grandstand for a quarter."
Digs notwithstanding, their bond is palpable. Why else would both have followed their older brother, Brooks, to ODU? Why else would they share a house with four others near campus? And why else would they have craved teaming with the Pilots?
Indeed, Matt said the entire family was counting down the days until Sam's short-term contract expired on the Cape, where he worked only 5 1/3 innings in the Red Sox's first 18 games.
The Cape Cod League is more prestigious than the Coastal Plain League, and Sam earned that contract with a stout junior season at ODU. He went 6-1 with a 3.81 earned-run average as the Monarchs' starting ace to earn second-team All-Conference USA honors for the second consecutive season.
Meanwhile, Kurt split his time at catcher, first base and designated hitter. He hit .283, and his .383 on-base percentage was second on the team to Nick Walker's .400 — Walker also plays for the Pilots.
Kurt has been with Peninsula throughout this season and is hitting .295. His .488 OBP leads the Pilots' regulars and fuels an offense averaging 7.2 runs per game.
"I really take pride in my two-strike hitting and like to think I have a pretty decent eye up there," Kurt said. "Just try to go as long as I can and have the defense get me out instead of the pitcher. I think striking out is one of the most embarrassing things in baseball."
"The quality of at-bats he puts in his remarkable," Morgan said. "The average number of pitches he sees in an at-bat I think is seven. It always culminates in something. … He's just a baseball player. His brother may have more natural talent, but I think Kurt is just that kid that has had to pay attention to every little thing along the way."
Sam's outing Monday — he's scheduled to pitch again Saturday — was everything Morgan envisioned. He was efficient, throwing fewer than 65 pitches in five innings and commanded his fastball, slider and change-up.
In nearly doubling his innings for the summer, Sam found a rhythm that escaped him with the Red Sox. He also reunited with his favorite catcher.
"He and Kurt together I think are excellent on getting a quick read on opposing hitters' swings and positions in the box and postures in the box and how to exploit them," Morgan said. "I think it says something for a guy's ability to pitch — and maybe this is a maturity thing — but he never threw a pitch with the lead but (still) ended up being the winning pitcher."
Matt, also a customer of what his sons call "Kurt's Cuts," drove the three hours to Wilson for the game because, well, the Sinnens are a baseball crew.
Raised by a baseball dad, Dwaine, Matt caught at Kellam and Virginia Wesleyan and was a 39th-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1980. After a summer of Class A ball, he returned home to Virginia Beach, thrived in real estate and co-founded the Drillers.
Players from the program, including current Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, frequented the Sinnens' home, providing the twins myriad role models — Zimmerman is godfather to Brooks' oldest daughter. Matt coached Brooks and the twins, and Brooks was a Kellam assistant coach throughout Kurt and Sam's high school days.
Moreover, Matt and his wife, Tina, the elected clerk of Virginia Beach's Circuit Court, adopted one of the twins' teammates nearly a decade ago. Turner Bishop is a starting outfielder at ODU and is playing this summer in California.
"It started out like a sleepover with one of your best friends," Kurt said, "and turned into him being part of the family."
Matt was hard on the boys growing up, parsing virtually every pitch and swing. He hasn't kicked the habit, and the twins wouldn't have it any other way, crediting their dad for their success.
Similarly, Matt pinches himself at his good fortune, he and Tina raising four sons in large measure through the family pastime. The twins and Bishop have one more season at ODU, but their parents realize time is dwindling.
Which is why Matt and Tina aren't likely to miss any game in which Sam is pitching to Kurt.
"It's pretty special," Matt said. "I've been around a lot of pitchers and catchers, but when those two work together, it's a confidence that goes beyond talent. They're probably two of the biggest overachievers that Old Dominion has on their roster, and probably the Pilots as well.
"They're not physically gifted. Neither one of them runs fast. Neither one of them is 6-4. Neither one of them, if you gave an athletics skills test, would finish in the top third. But put 'em on a baseball field together and they'll beat ya nine-and-a-half out of 10 times."
As a fellow catcher, Kurt claims to get the brunt of his dad's critiques.
"I wouldn't disagree with that," Matt said. "But … Kurt's a better catcher than I was. … The pitchers love throwing to him. I think he probably steals strikes as well as any catcher out there right now."
From former ODU teammates such as Connor Myers and Nick Lustrino, Kurt and Sam are well-acquainted with the Pilots' winning tradition, including Petitt Cup titles in 2013 and '14. They've seen championship rings and want ones for themselves this summer.
With Peninsula boasting the CPL's best record (21-9) and ERA (3.13), the aim is hardly far-fetched, especially with Sam's addition to the rotation.
"Everybody's always told me what a blast it is over here," Sam said, "and now I'm starting to experience that myself. It's everything I thought it would be. … I've seen the bling. That's definitely something I want to be a part of, to be in a dogpile."
The fanciful ending would have Kurt catching strike three from Sam for the final out of the final playoff game. But even if Hollywood and the baseball gods don't conspire on such a script, the twins are grateful for the experience.
"It's something you shouldn't take for granted," Kurt said, "and we absolutely won't, especially this being our last summer together. It's a real blessing."
Teel can be reached by phone at 757-247-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP.
Tidewater Drillers take 1st place in 2016 Hurricanes Tournament
The 10u & 13u Tidewater Drillers are the champions in the Hurricanes tournament played in Yorktown, VA in March 12-13, 2016. The boys had to fight hard for the win! Great job fellas!