Panther pitcher beat The Freeze

Published 12:28 am Tuesday, April 30, 2019


Daily News

He beat The Freeze.

Since the Atlanta Braves made their move to SunTrust Park in 2017, one of the most popular in-game attractions has been a race featuring The Freeze, a.k.a. Nigel Talton, against a fan.

The Freeze gives the fan a healthy head start, but he almost always manages to make up the ground.

Earlier this month, LaGrange College baseball player Spencer Douches was recruited by a Braves’ employee to race The Freeze.

“It just kind of happened,” said Douches, a junior pitcher from Collins Hill High. “I was just sitting out in the Battery, and she came up to me and said, hey, do you want to race The Freeze. I said absolutely. That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

At the conclusion of the fifth inning, Douches got his chance. He was ushered onto the field, where he was introduced to his opponent, and then it was time to race.

Douches took off and didn’t look back, and he beat The Freeze to the finish line.

“I was nervous for the first four innings,” Douches said. “Once I went down there and raced him, it was a blur for about 20 seconds. I don’t think I took a breath the whole time. I won, and it was a pretty awesome moment.”

Talton, who went to Peach County High, was a standout track-and-field performer in college, and he once finished third in the country in the 60-meter dash.

The 28-year-old Talton still races, and he has hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

That’s what Douches was confronting when he got his chance to race The Freeze.

“I knew I was pretty fast, but I didn’t know what to expect from him,” Douches said. “I got a head start, and I felt like I was going pretty fast.”

On Sunday afternoon, Douches faced a different kind of pressure.

With the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth inning of the USA South championship game, Douches entered the game in relief of starter Gibson Bittner.

Douches got a pair of groundouts to finish it, and LaGrange College had a third consecutive USA South tournament championship.

“I’ve been thinking about that for a long time,” Douches said. “The whole tournament I was thinking, what if I was able to finish it. To be able to do that was a dream come true honestly. It was a special moment I’ll never forget.”

Douches pitched at Gordon State for his first two seasons as a college player before transferring to LaGrange College.

Douches has been an integral member of the Panthers’ bullpen this season.

Douches has appeared in 16 games, all in a relief capacity, and he’s 3-0 with three saves and a microscopic 0.53 earned run average.

Since giving up runs in back-to-back appearances against Piedmont in March, Douches hasn’t allowed a run.