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ARCEO TASTES SUCCESS BEFORE COVID-19 SHUTDOWN

Matt Arceo was on fire in D1 baseball before the global shutdown

By Patrick Lujan

Yes, good things were happening right before this global crisis shut down practically every social industry on earth.

Division I baseball player Matt Arceo had a good thing going for Towson University in Maryland. In fact, the redshirt sophomore was riding a six-game hitting streak and was leading the Tigers with a .395 average before the season came to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic after just 15 games.

Matt Arceo

“The season ending because of (COVID-19) is very disappointing,” Arceo tells GSPN. “Not to be selfish, but I was on fire at the plate. My confidence level was high and when everything is going your way, you feel great and don’t want it to end. I was seeing the ball well… it didn’t matter: outside pitch, I went opposite field; inside pitch, I pulled.”

With a laser focus on baseball and things falling into place on the diamond, the lefty outfielder couldn’t comprehend the magnitude nor the impact of the virus that has gone way beyond the playing field.

“Being a college student, I have to be honest. I don’t watch TV and I’m not aware with life outside college and baseball. Truthfully, I ate and slept baseball.”

THE CALL HOME

After a team briefing on the COVID-19 situation and doing personal research, Matt reached back to his parents Jerry and Beverly in Virginia to see if everything was alright.

“I called my parents to see how there during and my dad said, ‘It’s bad. Your season might be done’.”

Shortly thereafter, the rest of the spring sports on campus were cancelled and he realized that ‘things just got real’.

“My life and my family members are way more important than the season. We have to beat this virus as a nation so we can get back to our normal lifestyle.”

D1 OPPORTUNITY

Just five years ago, Arceo had big dreams. Dreams of being selected on Team USA as a 15 year old. Though coming up short of wearing the red, white and blue, Arceo’s baseball accomplishments where within reach of high-level collegiate action before Tommy John surgery derailed the momentum.

Despite the setback, his sights on D1 baseball never vanquished.

“Regardless of your situation, hard work, willpower, and determination can always help you live your dreams,” said his father Jerry, who was a member of the AK Islanders and Pepsi Giants in the early ’90’s of the Guam Major League and was a gold medalist in the 1994 Micronesian Games.

“He came close to hanging up the cleats when the doctor told him he had to get UCL surgery in his senior year of high school. As a matter of fact, he went to a D3 school to attend and play ball. But something changed during the road to recovery. He knew he was a D1 player and wanted to prove to himself and others,” his dad added. “His name got out there, from Maryland down to Tennessee. Several coaches came out to see him play and saw what they liked. They said he was a tough out, hits the ball well, decent arm, great speed and understands his game offensively and defensively.”

Matt says all the 6 AM workouts and more throughout the year has paid off with the current opportunity with the Towson Tigers.

BITTERSWEET TASTE

After the struggles of recovering from surgery and the short taste of excelling at the sport he so loves, Arceo (like the rest of the nation) has to shut down competition and ride out this global pandemic with his eyes on some sense of normalcy down the road.

“My dad said, ‘Look on the bright side, you have another year to get stronger. Look what you have done in the past year, now you have more time to work on everything: speed, arm-strength and power.’ That just got me more excited.”

Now back at his home, Arceo is adapting like thousands of other students, taking online courses to finish his second semester as a college athlete.

But the taste of D1 fastballs is still fresh on his palette. In the meantime, he’ll continue to work on his trait and better himself in the next go-around.

“Now, I kinda know what it’s like to play D1 baseball and I will take the opportunity to work harder during the next couple months, so I can be a better me for next season.”

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