Ingold to UNC Pembroke
By Mike London
LANDIS ó What do Corbin Shive, Ryan Overcash, Aubrey Meadows, Nick Lomascolo and Cameron Park have in common besides being good hurlers?Well, they all managed to plunk South Rowan graduate Matt Ingold with a pitch during the 2008 NPC season.
Ingold didn’t mind. The pain was temporary, and his job was to score runs.
“I just try not to move because getting hit is a whole lot better than striking out,” Ingold said.
Ingold took HBPs for his team a whopping 18 times during South’s 2007 American Legion season. That’s an unofficial program record.
Lexington’s Clay Watson nailed him. So did Rowan’s Cy Young and Alex Britt. Kannapolis’ Jacob Wright, who throws 90-plus and has hit just about everyone in Area III, didn’t want to be left out.
That one must have stung a little.
Four frustrated Randolph County pitchers connected with Ingold during last year’s Area III semifinals, and three different Concord hurlers drilled him in one playoff game this summer.
Ingold didn’t rub any of his many wounds, but it still might be a good thing he plans to study athletic training at UNC Pembroke.
His peskiness and team-above-personal-safety fearlessness have earned him a spot on UNC Pembroke’s baseball team. He’ll room his freshman year with lifelong buddy and South football star Derek Davis.
“One of the Pembroke assistant coaches saw me at State Games,” Ingold said. “I made a play, went 1-for-2, and they called me after that. I know I probably won’t play much right away, but in a couple of years, maybe. I’ll see what I can do.”
Ingold isn’t the sort who’s going to make scouts love him at first sight.
He has longish, wavy, dark hair and a slim build. He never hit a varsity or Legion homer, and while he runs well enough, he’s not a sprinter.
To appreciate Ingold, it’s necessary to see him play frequently. If you only see Rowan County American Legion games, Ingold offers the same feisty, get-on-base-by-any-means-necessary approach as Rowan outfielder D.C. Cranford.
The bonus with Ingold is not only does he get on base 40 percent of the time, his glove at shortstop rivals Justin Roland’s.
Ingold made All-NPC as a senior but not all-county. It was easy for him to get overlooked.
“This county had great shortstops this year, great fielders who hit the ball, and with Roland at East and Philip (Miclat) at West it was tough for Matt to get any ink,” South Legion coach David Wright said. “But he’s one of the best pure baseball kids I’ve ever had in terms of understanding what he can do as far as helping a team.”
For South Legion teams the past two years, Ingold has scored 62 runs (ninth all-time). Age-wise, he’s eligible to return next year.
Besides getting plunked continuously, he’ll take a walk and slap his share of hits. He hit .310 for South’s 22-17 Legion team in 2008. Usually, he led off, although he also batted second some and even fifth in one stretch.
“It’s not like I’m a power hitter, so I’m most comfortable at the top of the lineup just trying to get on base,” Ingold said.
Ingold’s high school career started slowly. South had high hopes for him his junior year, but he dislocated a finger opening day.
He finally got back in the lineup, hit .292 and pitched well. He saved a 2-0 victory against West Rowan and a 5-4 victory against North Rowan.
Then he got hurt again, breaking two bones near his right eye when he was the victim of a terrible hop in a loss to North Davidson in the CPC tournament.
But that just gave him a chance to show how tough he was. He was back at shortstop for South’s playoff game.
His senior year, he stayed healthy ó although his younger brother, Alex, got hurt. Ingold batted .338 with seven doubles and 10 steals, and he scored 23 runs. He didn’t pitch often, but he did nail down the last out of South’s 7-6 victory over Carson in the first meeting between the neighbors.
While his bat is OK and his on-base percentage is through the roof, Ingold is best with a glove on his left hand.
He made a leaping catch against Kannapolis last summer that was as good a play as a shortstop can make, and the summer of ’08 was filled with diving stops, running catches and terrific throws.
“He made so many great plays it’s hard to pick out one,” South center fielder Ryan Bostian said. “He made all the hard plays look easy, and after a while they all run together. I do know he’s got that Derek Jeter jumping-catch and throw back to a base down pat.”
Ingold’s best moment with a bat this summer was his perfect bunt single late in a playoff game at Concord. South trailed 1-0, but that bunt triggered the winning rally.
Ingold said Wright, a former infielder at Carson-Newman, has done a lot to help his glove. Wright says Ingold just keeps improving because he’s willing to work.
Wright sees Ingold eventually making a difference at UNC Pembroke, which has a strong program. The Braves were 33-23 last year, and senior shortstop Jason Morales was drafted by the Kansas City Royals.
“As he matures, I can see Matt’s arm getting better and his bat getting better,” Wright said. “But the biggest thing with him is he already realizes what his strengths are. A lot of kids fail in college because they never realize what their strength is.”