White finds success in JUCO

Matt White is batting .331. for Spartanburg Methodist.

It’s a whole new ballgame for Summerville’s Matt White.

White, who plays baseball for Spartanburg Methodist, is in Grand Junction, Colo., for the Junior College World Series.

“This is my first time in Colorado and I love the weather and mountains,” said White, a two-sport star who graduated from Summerville High School in 2012. “Other than baseball, we will have a lot of team bonding time, going out to dinner, site seeing, and maybe a Colorado Rockies baseball game.”

White traded in the kelly green and gold of the Green Wave for the royal blue and white of the Pioneers, but he still wears the same number — 3.

His success hasn’t changed, either.

White has played in 49 of the Pioneers’ 58 games and is batting .331. He has three doubles, two triples and 28 RBIs. He’s had numerous hits in clutch situations. The Pioneers trailed in the first game of the regional and were down to their last at-bat when White saved the day with an RBI triple to tie the game. They pulled out a 6-5 victory in 11 innings.

Spartanburg Methodist is no stranger to success. The Pioneers are No. 1 in the nation with a 45-13 record and have played in eight JUCO World Series, including the last two. They begin play Saturday against Walters State Community College

Spartanburg Methodist is a junior college with an enrollment under 1,000, but the school has produced more than 100 professional players.

Notable alumni include Reggie Sanders, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals, and Mookie Wilson, who played for the 1986 World Champion New York Mets.

Other baseball alumni include Dwight Smith, who played for the 1995 World Champion Atlanta Braves, and four-time Gold Glove winner and Darlington native Orlando Hudson.

“This was one of the several goals that made my decision much easier to become a Pioneer,” said White, who plays in the infield and outfield. “Based on the reputation the program has I feel I made a good choice. My plan after my two years at SMC is to leave with an associate degree in science and to play Division I college baseball. Most importantly I will be focusing on my studies.”

His success on the baseball field has come with a price. He’s strictly a baseball player after earning all-state honors in football at Summerville.

“Yes, I missed football this past fall,” said White, who led the state with 11 interceptions his junior year and played in the Shrine Bowl his senior season. “I played since I was 6 years old and enjoyed every moment of it. But I knew baseball was the sport I loved the most.”

White is one of three players from the Charleston area playing for Spartanburg Methodist. The others are pitchers Jimmy Lindberg (Bishop England) and Josh Escoffier (James Island).

Lindberg is 6-2 with four complete games. He has struck out 49 batter in 671/3 innings and has a 3.34 ERA. Escoffier is 2-1 with four saves. The freshman has struck out 25 batters in 32 innings and has a 3.38 ERA.

“It’s great playing with two guys from the same area,” White said. “Both of these guys have amazing talent and are very competitive. They love to win.”