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Dogs dealing with younger team

March 22, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Poland's baseball team has been a state force for many years.

The Bulldogs have won three straight district championships. In 2014, Poland was a regional finalist, in 2015 it was the state runner up and in 2016 the Bulldogs made it to the state semifinals. If they are to play deep into the playoffs again this season, however, the Bulldogs will have to rely on some players that aren't very recognizable.

"We only return five lettermen from last year's team," said head coach Rich Murray. "We will be a very inexperienced club."

Article Photos

Photos by Mike Audi, Town Crier

Poland junior varsity baseball player Braeden O'Shaughnessy works on his batting technique at last Saturday's practice in the high school gymnasium.

The five returning letter winners to Poland's roster are senior Reed McCreery and juniors Braeden O'Shaughnessy, Andrew Testa, Michael Farber and Cole Kosco. McCreery is Poland's centerfielder and is coming off of a spectacular .390 hitting season a year ago. O'Shaughnessy is the team's shortstop and was named 2nd team all-league as a sophomore. Testa is a catcher who plays very heady behind the plate and batted .275 last year. Farber will also see time behind the dish as well as at third base. He swatted at a .555 clip last spring. Kosco plays all over the outfield and brings back a .383 batting mark.

Another pair of seniors should see plenty of time in Murray's starting lineup. Matt Sperati may be the Bulldogs' number one ace on the mound, especially since he sported a 1.75 ERA last season. Mike Masucci is another twelfth-grader who will play both infield and outfield this year.

Juniors Alex Barth, Jeremy Castro, Jared Knight and Ian Lu are a quartet of Bulldogs that Murray may select to start games on the hill. Barth and Knight also play infield while Castro and Lu can also be seen starting in the outfield. Junior Robert Murray is also an option in the outfield. Sophomores Ryan Johnston and Zachary Yaskulka should contribute as pitchers and first basemen.

Poland completed last year's regular season with a 17-7 mark and was buried near the bottom of the AAC Red Tier standings. The Bulldogs won one game in the Division II tournament before bowing out at the hands of archrival Canfield. They'll get their first shot at revenge against their nemesis on the last weekend of April. With home-in-home matches with Warren Harding, Austintown Fitch and Boardman schedule before the clashes with the Cardinals, the Bulldogs should have a great idea where they stand in the Red Tier. Coach Murray predicts there will be plenty of grueling battles for his boys inside the conference.

"Our league will be the toughest competition we've had in the league play from top to bottom," said Murray.

The regular season opens when Poland plays at Girard on March 26. After another road game at South Range, Murray's kids will come home to kick start that Red Tier round robin versus Harding.

 
 

 

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