It has been a common occurrence ever since Matt Carpenter picked up a bat.
A screaming line drive zips past second base or perhaps near the hot corner.
Not really, according to a certain ambitious young man. In fact, that person’s rebellious and perhaps uncivil response might be this: "Meh."
Let’s just say this highly competitive teenager has something else in mind if one of Carpenter’s trademark rockets were launched toward his area code.
Would this troublesome rebel ferociously ruin the decorated former Aurora batsman’s chances for a base knock?
In a heartbeat.
Truth be told, such a thought sounds downright delightful to this party-pooping renegade.
So who is this alleged brash outlaw? And why does he have zero respect for the current innocuous, slick-fielding middle infielder?
Ironically enough, this famed, scrupulous "villain" is Matt’s younger brother.
"I would dive for it and try to throw him out," Will Carpenter said matter-of-factly.
So much for brotherly love, huh?
If such a statement troubles you, you may want to consider a term used quite frequently by the Generation Z crowd: Chillax!
Put Matt in a similar situation and it’s a good bet he feels exactly the same way. Therefore, if his kid brother smashes a hard chopper toward the hole, pardon Matt if he may have a certain devilish thought in mind.
"I totally got this."
"Matt is as competitive as they come," Will said. "Between the two of us, he would definitely win an intellectual battle."
What about the baseball diamond?
Such a question will likely cause the younger brother’s eyes to light up.
"I got him beat on the field," Will said with a smirk.
There’s no escaping it: The Carpenter DNA is flooded with dog-eat-dog genes not found in most humans.
Thus, a certain question comes to mind as the spring season draws near: Can Matt put his self-assured younger duplicate in his place?
To be continued.
An ultimate Carpenter-vs.-Carpenter showdown for baseball supremacy will have to be put on hold.
Matt, a 2015 Aurora graduate, is currently a fifth-year senior at The Ohio State University in Columbus.
As for Will?
This modern-day version of Baroness Orczy’s "The Scarlet Pimpernel" has barely scratched the surface of his own "Reign of Terror."
For now, Will has decided to follow in his older brother’s footsteps.
With a twist, of course.
While Matt has proudly bled scarlet and gray for the last four-plus years, Will prefers a couple shades of blue with a few sprinkles of white, as well.
Sticking to the Big Ten theme, Will recently signed a national letter of intent to continue his academic and baseball careers at Penn State. The 165-year-old land-grant research university makes its home within the Borough of State College and College Township.
Will, a senior on the Greenmen’s baseball team, plans to major in visual arts with an eye toward a degree in landscape architecture at a university that is labeled as one of the "Public Ivies."
Not surprisingly, Will also drew interest from his brother’s soon-to-be alma mater, along with Kent State and Tennessee. When it comes to the younger Carpenter, this life-changing decision was an obvious no-brainer. In other words, he didn’t need to spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness to become a Nittany Lion.
Like American singer Pharrell Williams, Will "feels like a room without a roof" in a region that is famously known as "Happy" Valley.
"I visited the campus my sophomore year," Will said. "I was invited to the White-Out [football] game against Michigan. The coach gave me a call and I just took it from there."
While its football team has experienced its fair share of success over the years, Penn State has never been considered the "best atmosphere" in college baseball.
Not even close, actually.
In 2019, the Nittany Lions finished 22-27 overall, including a gruesome, last-place 4-18 mark in the Big Ten.
And what about the previous years? Not exactly marvelous either.
Penn State’s last NCAA Tournament appearance took place shortly before its newest recruit came out of the womb.
That would be 2000.
As for the Nittany Lions’ last conference championship?
Certainly not this millennium. Try 1996.
And what about the College World Series?
Here’s a hint: It took place not long after the Immaculate Reception, which was made famous by Penn State alum Franco Harris.
It also happened just several months before John Cappelletti became the first Nittany Lion to win the Heisman Trophy.
Don’t scold yourself. That’s because it took place way, way back in 1973.
It’s all good with Will, though.
Pennsylvania’s largest university has all the ingredients to set him up quite nicely for life inside and outside the ballpark.
It can satisfy his cravings too.
The famous Berkey Creamery is just a short hike away if he wanders toward the Food Science Building in University Park.
"It just seemed like the perfect fit," Will said. "It was the right balance between academics and athletics. The campus is beautiful."
His high school career has been rather attractive too.
Will, who earned first-team Suburban League American Conference honors last year, batted .354 with 23 hits, 14 RBIs, 13 runs scored, eight stolen bases and six doubles in 2019. He also received honorable mention to the Northeast Ohio Baseball Coaches Association all-district team.
The four-year starter, who has been the team’s shortstop since the beginning of the 2018 season, has a .475 career batting average in postseason play. He’s also a four-time Under Armour Preseason All-American and a three-time Perfect Game Preseason All-American.
Aurora head baseball coach Michael Brancazio has known his star pupil for the last eight years.
He got a good glimpse of what the easygoing teenager was like when Will was in his future coach’s math class at Harmon Middle School.
Brancazio was highly intrigued. And it had very little to do with the multiple gifts of his future Roy Hobbs.
"Will is very down-to-earth," Brancazio said. "He’s very laid-back and very respectful. The game comes natural to him and he’s a plus athlete, but the biggest thing with him is he’s a hard-working kid. Those things have made him a great baseball talent and allowed him to be a four-year starter."
Rumor has it that the Greenmen’s version of "The Natural" makes a pretty good chauffeur, as well.
If their parents got caught in traffic or were forced to stay at work a little longer than usual, the younger members of this "Legion of Green Men" knew they could hitch a ride with someone they trusted.
Think of it this way: When it comes to Aurora’s current freshmen, Enterprise Rent-A-Car may want to tinker with its catchy, but frequently-imitated slogan.
"‘Will’ pick you up."
"We have a great group of guys," Will said. "Last year, [2019 graduate] Colin McNamara was one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. He kind of carried us through the season. We have the best coaches in the state in Coach Brancazio and [assistant] Coach [George] Snider."
Aurora’s "Will" to win is greater than ever, particularly for a certain affable middle infielder. Thanks to their new general, the Greenmen could borrow this overused proverb as their current motto: "When there’s a ‘Will,’ there’s a way."
"It’s my last year," Will said. "I want to leave it all on the field. We’re not going to put each other above everyone else. The goal is to win a state championship."
Fortunately for the determined teenager, there has been plenty of "Will" power for what seems like forever.
Besides McNamara, the Greenmen were blessed to be guided by legendary commanders such as Bubba Arslanian and Andy Weber.
By the way, the latter is now swinging his potent sledge hammer for a rather noteworthy construction company.
Like his favorite pastime, hard hats are strictly required. After all, unpredictable flying objects are the norm if you’re an employee with the Chicago Cubs’ organization.
"Andy is one of my biggest role models and influences in my life," Will said. "He’s a class act and a great player. He represents the community well."
So does someone else. And that someone else is Will’s most trusted confidant.
Well, as long as SAT scores aren’t involved. Or some ballistic missiles made of horsehide that leave a smoke trail throughout the middle infield.
To Will, this person is Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. He could be Ernie Banks too. Or Cal Ripken Jr. Maybe Derek Jeter, as well.
When it comes to a pair of gifted shortstops, "Rainy Days and Mondays" seem nonexistent on West Pioneer Trail.
Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact.
Thanks to "The Carpenters," which also features the other "Matt," the family’s patriarch and assistant coach, and Michael, a junior infielder, the Aurora baseball team is the "nearest thing to heaven" for its many well-wishers.
As for a pair of Big Ten recruits whose musical instruments feature a mix of aluminum and leather, they prefer the view from the top.
"Top of the World," that is.
"I remember doing pitch counts for his travel team," Will said of his oldest brother. "He has really helped me. He deserves all the credit. He’s my best friend."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_Gannett.