Julian Infante clawing his way back to form with solid weekend against Gamecocks

The Vandy Boys play the University of South Carolina on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Hawkins Field. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

When most ball players hit a slump, they tend to look for the slump buster: a big home run or hit in a big situation to shake him of a funk.

Julian Infante is not most ball players.

Instead, Infante is taking a page from blink-182: he’s looking for All the Small Things.

His “roses by the stairs” are singles and doubles, perhaps even a triple in Sunday’s tough 10-9 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks. They let head coach Tim Corbin know he cares.

“That’s what the team needs,” Infante said of his small ball approach. “Offensively, it works out. The small things help the team out, it’s not always about the big hits. Sometimes, you play different roles.”

If you’re looking for a silver lining from the Commodores’ tough series loss to South Carolina, look no further than Infante. The lost series was Infante’s best all season. It was the first in which he had an RBI in all three games of a series. He got those RBIs in all kinds of ways, including a double on Friday, a single on Saturday and a groundout and double on Sunday.

It wasn’t enough to conquer South Carolina, but perhaps enough to conquer his demons for good. Although it seems that’s not Infante’s mentality as he approaches each game.

“I don’t really like to think about any of that stuff,” he said. “It’s the past, all that stuff really doesn’t matter. When I was going through those things, I had a team, coaches, great people around me to help me out. Again, it’s just to keep playing the next game and not worrying about any of that stuff and just continuing to do what you’ve been doing your whole life.”

He’s also been able to keep himself upbeat through his defense. Despite his earlier struggles at the plate, Infante has been a consistent presence at first base and made the plays he’s needed to make.

Infante’s stat line is not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Going into Sunday’s rubber match with the Gamecocks, he was hitting .167 with just 19 hits and 13 RBI. Many of those hits and RBIs came in the last few weeks. He’s also been bounced around the lineup quite a bit and has landed himself in the ninth slot. Having someone even with the potential to hit the ball like Infante does is a boon for the Commodores.

“I just think whether it’s Julian or anyone, you just want to try to match up the nine best guys to create some type of offensive harmony,” coach Tim Corbin said. “He’s been fairly responsive in that regard and we’ll just keep it that way.”

Corbin also noted the Infante’s confidence has grown over time as well. Perhaps that happened because, as Infante said, he wants to play the game like he always has. That includes having some fun with it. When he rumbled into third base with a huge triple on Sunday, the emotion showed on his face as he fired up the dugout.

After all, if he’s not going to enjoy himself, why would he play?

“I think as a team that’s just something we do,” Infante said. “We’re always emotional, we’re always having fun, I think that’s what makes us a good team and when we’re emotional like that it just makes baseball fun and you want to do that.”

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