Orleans’ DeLauter, Locklear Push Each Other Amid Home Run Chase

By: Brad Joyal

Topics: Orleans Firebirds , Cape Cod Baseball League

Orleans Firebirds teammates Tyler Locklear, left, and Chase DeLauter have pushed each other on the field and in the weight room this summer. Their hard work has paid dividends, as the duo sit atop the Cape Cod Baseball League's home run leaderboard. BRAD JOYAL PHOTOS

ORLEANS – The real work behind a home run chase happens hours before the first pitch. It happens outside of the batter’s box, away from the ballpark and long before any spectators arrive to the field.

For Orleans sluggers Chase DeLauter and Tyler Locklear, two of the Cape League’s fiercest power hitters, the work begins in the weight room at Nauset Fit Co., where the duo meets Firebirds’ strength and conditioning coach Alex Simone for workouts five times per week.

“They told me early on that they wanted to train more than two to three days a week, which I have never really done with guys in-season before,” said Simone, who serves as Orleans’ bench coach in addition to his strength and conditioning role. “But they recover really well and they told me, ‘If you don’t train me five days a week, I’m going to do stuff on my own,’ so I decided to do it and program things properly.”

DeLauter and Locklear became fast friends this summer after arriving in Orleans from Virginia-based schools. DeLauter is a Martinsburg, W.Va., native who starred this spring as a redshirt freshman at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. Locklear, from Abingdon, Md., stood out during his first full season at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

With a little more than a week remaining in the Cape Cod Baseball League’s regular season, the Orleans tandem sits atop the league’s home run leaderboard. Although Locklear and DeLauter possess plenty of talent on their own, they have also motivated each other to get better on the field and in the weight room this summer.

“It’s cool to have a teammate like this,” Locklear said after they met at Nauset Fit Co. for an hour workout Friday afternoon. “Somebody you can compete against every day — whether it’s home runs, [hitting baseballs], just in the weight room and trying to out-lift each other — it’s pretty cool.”

Locklear received boatloads of postseason accolades this spring after he set a new Virginia Commonwealth record for most home runs hit by a freshman (16) while also leading the Atlantic 10 Conference in runs (69), RBIs (66), on-base percentage (.515) and walks (46) — all of which rank in VCU’s top 10 for single-season totals.

The corner infielder also became the first player to be named A-10 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year during the same season.

DeLauter was an All-Conference selection in the Colonial Athletic Association after hitting a team-best .386 this spring. The outfielder led JMU in multiple statistical categories, including homers (6), doubles (12) and triples (2).

The pair traded blasts last week as they try to gain separation from one another in the league's home run leaderboard. Just hours after they met for Friday afternoon’s workout — which featured a combination of speed and power lifts and exercises — Locklear hit his seventh homer in the team’s 4-3 loss at Bourne that night.

Twenty-four hours later, the VCU product took sole possession of the home run lead when he led off the second inning of Saturday’s 6-4 loss to Wareham with a solo shot over the right-field fence at Eldredge Park. Locklear wasn’t able to savor his spot atop the leaderboard for very long, however, as the left-handed hitting DeLauter crushed a first-pitch fastball for a two-run home run over the left-field fence with two outs in the ninth.

DeLauter’s homer moved him back into a tie with Locklear for the league lead in homers with eight each.

“They’re the junior Bash Brothers, DeLauter and T-Lock,” Orleans manager Kelly Nicholson said, alluding to the Bash Brothers nickname former Major League Baseball teammates Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco shared while playing together for the Oakland Athletics.

“They’re big, strong, physical kids,” Nicholson continued. “They’re both good kids, they’re workers. I’ve seen some video of them working with Alex and I think as long as they continue to work with him, they are going to really improve strength-wise and flexibility-wise.”

After DeLauter matched Locklear’s home run Saturday night, the VCU infielder regained the lead in the home run chase Monday at Eldredge with his ninth homer — a three-run poke during the team’s 10-5 victory over Bourne.

“We’re both definitely aware of it,” Locklear answered when asked if he and DeLauter keep tabs on the league’s home run leaderboard. “Our teammates are in our ear about it and then we’re seeing tweets about it. But we just try to keep the same mindset — just go hit something hard and if it goes over the fence, it goes over the fence.”

DeLauter said he isn’t sure who will be crowned the Cape League’s home run champion. Beyond he and Locklear, Wareham outfielder Owen Diodati has seven and Harwich infielder Brock Wilken has six.

Even though DeLauter isn’t sure who will ultimately finish on top, the JMU product said the competitive spirit he and Locklear share will likely prevent the pair from finishing in a draw.

“I don’t think we’re going to tie,” DeLauter said. “I think one of us is going to have more at the end of the season. We have 10 or so games roughly left in the regular season, so there’s plenty of time for one of us to hit more home runs.”

Email Brad Joyal at brad@capecodchronicle.com

Twitter: @BradJoyal



 

Recent/Upcoming Games for Orleans (11-13-4)

July 25: Hyannis 12, Orleans 7

July 26: Orleans 10, Bourne 5

July 28: Chatham at Orleans, 7 p.m.

July 30: Yarmouth-Dennis at Orleans, 7 p.m.

July 31: Orleans at Chatham, 7 p.m.