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Spartans hope pitching leads way in 2019

March 20, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

In 2018 the Boardman baseball team finished in a three-way tie for first place in the All American Conference's Red Tier.

If the Spartans would like to repeat that feat, or be the sole survivor in the conference, they will need to make up for the absence of workhorse starting pitcher Alex Cardona. Even without having Cardona to count upon, head coach Joe Gabriel still thinks he has plenty of pitching studs to win the conference.

"We will need to replace a true number one guy on the mound, but we bring back a good amount of pitching," said Gabriel, who is entering his sixth season with the Spartans.

Seniors Travis Harvey, Dylan Gurski, Cam Kreps and junior Tyler Peterson are the pitchers that Gabriel will build around. He believes that this quartet has the tools to shoulder the load.

"These are some really good arms," said Gabriel about the foursome.

The coach is also confident that another pair of pitchers can assist as long as they get a little more seasoning on the hill.

"We will need guys like (senior) Shay Eicher and (junior) Carmen Cavalier to add more depth to this staff so we can keep our defense intact," Gabriel said.

Whoever is on the bump will get the luxury of working with a maestro behind the plate. Junior catcher Connor Miller comes back to bolster both Boardman's rotation and its defense.

"Having Miller back at catcher is huge because he is one of the best catchers in the state," Gabriel said.

Once the job of juggling a pitching group is completed, Gabriel will begin to toy with his offense. Cardona, Luke Cardillo, Dom Stilliana, Mike Melewski and Evan Knaus were all big bats for Boardman a season ago but have all graduated. Harvey, Kreps, Gurski and senior infielder Mike Fetsko will be asked to up their offensive game for 2019 to make up for those who departed.

"Those guys will have to have bigger years," Gabriel said. "Last year we had a great offensive year and we will try to duplicate that this year."

Senior third baseman/catcher Luke Stauffer and outfielder Eicher as well as juniors Peterson, corner infielder Charlie Davis and infielder Carmen Quattro are also going to get their chance to round out the starting lineup.

"We will need all of these guys to contribute more," said Gabriel. "We will need big contributions from them."

Three other newcomers who will see a lot of diamond time for the Spartans are senior outfielders Nick Yallech and Mickey Morris and sophomore infielder/outfielder Ty Ventresco. They will all attempt to improve last year's 17-13 mark and push the Spartans past their ferocious foes in the AAC.

"We will look to repeat as conference champs in what is always a very tough conference," said Gabriel about the Red Tier.

It won't take long for Gabriel's group to measure themselves against their conference cousins because they will play a home-in-home series with perennial league favorite Canfield on March 25 and 26. Boardman's boys will also begin April with a pair against the Falcons. The regular season's first pitch will be Saturday, March 23 at home against Massillon Jackson. At that time, Coach Gabriel will commence counting on his upperclassmen to carry his club into unchartered waters.

"We need our seniors to lead us to our first regional championship in a long time," he said.



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