Somebody asked The Citadel’s Austin Pritcher, “If you could be a superhero, who would it be?”
HOMER BOYSFive Citadel players have hit three home runs in one game:Year Player Foe2013 Bo Thompson Samford2013 Tyler Griffin North Florida2009 Richard Jones Davidson2001 Philip Hartig UNC Greensboro1994 Garrick Haltiwanger South Carolina
The senior pitcher thought for a moment.
“If I could be any superhero, it’d probably be Bo Thompson’s calves,” he said of his baseball teammate’s lower extremities. “They are the biggest things in comics.”
Yes, Bo Thompson is one of those guys who was big when he was little. The Citadel’s 5-10, 255-pound sophomore is a barrel-chested first baseman who is so strong that he’s been banned from the weight room.
Thompson bench-presses more than 400 pounds, squats nearly 600 and swats baseballs for long distances. He tries to model himself after a freakish combination of major league sluggers Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols — “Prince Fielder’s upper body,” he says, “and Pujols’ lower half.”
It’s working. Thompson is batting .375 and hit his sixth home run of the season in Wednesday’s 9-3 win over Akron as the 12-6 Bulldogs won for the seventh time in eight games.
He’s driven in 17 runs and his six homers are tied for fourth in Division I in the latest NCAA statistics.
Bo’s homers are bombs, as well.
“Phil Hartig used to hit some of the longest homers I’ve seen from a right-handed hitter,” Citadel coach Fred Jordan said, recalling the Bulldogs’ career home-run leader. “But two of those balls Bo hit the other night — those were two of the longest I’ve ever seen.”
The legend of Leonard Edward “Bo” Thompson — known to Citadel fans as “Bo Bo” — was burnished last Friday night when he blasted three home runs in his first three at-bats in a 12-3 win over Samford at Riley Park.
After missing three games with a sprained ankle, Thompson tweaked the ankle again in his first at-bat. He then lined a two-run homer to left-center, hammered another two-run shot in the third inning, and yanked a solo homer inside the left-field foul pole in the sixth.
It was the second time this season a Citadel player hit three homers in one game — Tyler Griffin did it at North Florida on Feb. 23 — and just the fifth time in school history.
“We didn’t even think he’d be in the lineup,” said teammate Drew DeKerlegand. “And he came out with one good leg and dropped three tanks over left field, monster shots. Pretty impressive.”
Thompson, who played fullback and linebacker for the football team at J.L. Mann High School in Greenville, could well be doing the same thing for some college football team.
But he was sold on Citadel baseball when the Bulldogs won a game on a walk-off hit during his recruiting trip three years ago. As a freshman last year, he started 49 games and hit .261 with three homers and 28 RBI.
After he squatted almost 600 pounds during fall workouts, The Citadel’s strength staff decided to ban Thompson from the weight room and have him concentrate on agility and flexibility drills.
“People don’t realize how athletic Bo is for his size,” Jordan said. “He’s not overweight, he’s just a big, big ball player.
“He’s got great acceleration for the first couple of steps. He won’t run a great time for 30 or 40 yards, but he can get out of the box.”
Of course, when you hit the ball out of the park, you don’t have to run fast at all.
“Our trainer told me before that game, if you just hit home runs, you won’t have to run,” said Thompson, who will play designated hitter the next couple of weeks as his ankle heals. “I guess I took it to heart. It was the best night I’ve ever had, so far.”