All Baseball Stories

Baseball

BASEBALL: Downriver League preview (PHOTO)

Pitching key for defending champ Trenton

Garret Vandenberg is one of several returning pitchers that will make Trenton a tough team to beat in the Downriver League this year.

A year after claiming league and district titles, the Trenton Trojans are looking to overcome a frigid early spring and a tough Downriver League schedule to match or surpass last season’s success.

The Trojans will be led by a talented four-headed monster of senior leaders with college baseball aspirations.

JT Conti, who has signed with Wayne State, was second team all-state last year and will be a mainstay on the mound and at first base this season.

Nate Donovan, who has signed with Kalamazoo College, returns as a three-year starter and will play shortstop.

Wes Sorensen, also a three-year starter, will pitch and play third base and left field while Garret Vandenberg sees time on the mound and in right field as the Trojans No. 3 hitter.

Senior Eric Szczepaniak will play in the outfield and senior Trevor Woods will pitch this spring.

Juniors Kyle Mayes and Brandon Justice are currently battling for the catcher’s spot, Drew Johnson will start in centerfield and will likely hit leadoff, Grant Dukus will see time all around the infield and occasionally on the mound and Jerry LaBell will be in the Trojan rotation and will see time at first, third and DH.

Juniors Brett Murray and Justin Dunn will also see time in the outfield.

The Trojans will also feature a pair of talented sophomores with Brady Tanguay playing second base and Christian Mercure, who is currently recovering from a basketball injury, will see time at a currently undecided position.

While weather has been a problem for all local teams this spring, the Trojans head into the new season with high expectations with a talented returning group, specifically on the mound.

“We probably have more depth on the mound than we’ve ever had from top-to-bottom,” Trenton Coach Todd Szalka said. “We could be a very good team if all that pitching comes through for us.”

The Trojans will also feature a new technique at practice that will involve the varsity and JV teams working together.

“We’re hoping that’s going to further our progress and allow coaches to work with kids individually,” Szalka said. “We’re hoping that’s going to bridge that learning curve and help us get better.”

Weather permitting, the Trojans are currently scheduled to open the season today at home against Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central.

Trenton will open the league season on April 10 against Roosevelt.



Anderson



The Anderson Titans will head into the 2013 season with a veteran team that will rely on its experience in competing for a Downriver League title.

“We’ve got eight seniors and I think that’s the largest senior class since I’ve been here,” Anderson Coach Dave Fast said. “They bring a lot of experience and they’ve won a lot of baseball games.”

The Titans’ pitching staff will be anchored by seniors Josh Lockwood and Greg Galetto.

Senior Shane Freitag, who is a three-year varsity starter, moves from the outfield to first base this season and will be joined on the infield by junior shortstop Tyler Hall.

Hall will also see time on the mound along with fellow junior Dylan Downs.

Tyler Shumake returns for his third year behind the plate at catcher for Anderson while fellow senior and All-News-Herald team member Paul Sullivan returns to his post in centerfield.

Senior Tyler Pinkowski will play in many different spots and will see time in the outfield and Gabe Becker will also play a number of positions.

Juniors Tyler Hall, Dylan Voss and Kyle Riddle will all see time in the infield, Jonah Peryman will play several positions and Brandon Ostrowski will use his speed to provide solid defense in the outfield.

“The great thing is that we have a lot of depth,” Fast said. “There are a lot of questions of who is going to come out and step up, but we have a lot of depth.

“We’re optimistic that we’re going to hit the ball and defensively, we’ll be good, but it’s all going to come down to how we’re pitching. We haven’t been outside much, so it’s been tough, but the good thing is where there are a lot of question marks, there are a lot of places we can go for answers.”

The Titans are set to open up the league season on April 8 against Woodhaven.



Allen Park



Allen Park will lean on a returning 1-2 punch in the rotation this year with seniors Nick Willetts and Jake Makowski leading a solid Jaguar pitching staff.

“This year, our pitching should be our strong point,” Allen Park Coach Glen Gulliver said. “We also have some new pitchers who should come out and be pretty good.”

Juniors Quinn Garcia, Mike Bradford and Kyle Roberts will round out the rotation that will look to keep the Jags near the top of the DRL standings.

Makowski will play shortstop when he’s not pitching, Willetts and Bradford will rotate at third base, Roberts will play first base and Garcia will see time at one of the outfield spots.

Seniors Jose Salinas (second base), Trevor Simms (first base), Dylan Pippin (outfield) and DJ Bagozzi (catcher) will all provide leadership.

Sophomore Jimmy Howell will also compete for time at catcher.

The Jags will travel to Westland John Glenn on Tuesday for a double-header before hitting the road again next Friday for a pair of games against Ann Arbor Huron.



Roosevelt



Roosevelt opens the spring season looking to fill a few important holes from last year’s team, but Coach Brian Cotner is confident that the Bears will compete with a talented group of returners.

“We have a lot of returners who’ve had a lot of experience and have had some success,” Cotner said. “Hopefully, we can get some of these new guys to stop up so that we can build on what we did last year.”

Two of Roosevelt’s top hitters return in senior infielder Vinnie Jelsomeno and junior outfielder Austin Petravicius.

The Bears also bring back two of their top arms in senior Hunter Shurtz and William Ososkie.

Also looking to contribute on the mound will be junior pitcher/first baseman Justin Armatis and freshman pitcher/infielder Tyler Thorington.

Sophomore Blake Baldwin and senior utility man John Cox will also see plenty of time on the Roosevelt infield.

While the weather has kept the Bears off the field, Cotner is pleased with the work his team has put in leading up to the season.

“I think we’re getting some good work in and the newer guys are responding to the competition,” Cotner said. “We have a lot of spots that aren’t quite determined, so I think the competition is kind of felt in our practices.

“The kids have great attitudes and we seem to have great chemistry. If we throw some strikes and get some timely hitting, we should be alright.”

The Bears will look to do just that over spring break when they compete in the Oakland County Baseball Classic, which will consist of three double-headers.

Roosevelt will open the Classic on April 1 against Birmingham Groves at Bishop Foley.



Kennedy



Though Kennedy graduated eight seniors last year, the Eagles feature another experienced group this spring with eight more seniors providing experience to the lineup.

The pitching staff will be solid at Kennedy and will be made up of seniors Nate Farner, Marcus Doughten, junior Matt Woloszyk and Truman transfers Jake Mcleod and Michael Droullaird.

Farner will man third when not on the mound, Doughten will play in the outfield, Woloszyk will use his size at first base, Mcleod will see time in the outfield and Droullaird will also play first.

Hard-hitting senior Brett Hall, who has signed with Kalamazoo College, returns at shortstop and will turn double-plays with Tyler Donahey at second base.

Senior CJ House will play centerfield and juniors Chris Delong and Deon Craig will battle for time at catcher.

Also fighting for time will be seniors Alex Gibson and Christian Ramage and sophomore Cody Serafin in the outfield and juniors Eric Hall and Bobby Keith on the infield.

“We have a lot of good team chemistry,” Kennedy Coach Corey Farner said. “They’ve bought in to the good team philosophy of working hard and getting prepared for the game.

“We’ve had one of the better hitting teams Downriver and we look to continue that. We have a lot of team speed and just playing good baseball is what we’ve been focused on so far.”

The Eagles will open against Dearborn Heights Annapolis today, weather permitting. The league season will open for Kennedy against Allen Park on April 12th.



Woodhaven



Chemistry will be the key to success in Woodhaven this year as longtime coach Bob Kloss is pleased with the camaraderie of his group of Warriors.

“I really, really like the chemistry of my kids,” Kloss said. “It’s probably one of the most together teams I’ve had in a long time.

“I don’t know how we’re going to do on the field, but they’re excited to get out there together.”

The Warriors are heavy on seniors with eight returning 12th-graders led by captains Zach Tallman (catcher), Andrew Dayfield (third base, shortstop, second base) and Kevin Yanos (utility).

“Yanos, Dayfield and Tallman are three tremendous captains for this team,” Kloss said. “The kids like them, they respect them and these kids are going to make you work.”

Other returners include three-year starting pitcher Layne Gusler, four-year starter Brad Connochie, outfielder Andrew Brudzinski, pitcher/outfielder Joe Thayer and utility player Shayde Richey.

The Warriors return two juniors from last year’s team in pitcher/first baseman Blake Harris and speedy outfielder Dominic Moore.

New faces include junior pitcher/outfielder Enrique Reboyras, junior outfielder Noah Bear, junior pitcher Jordan Thayer, sophomore pitcher/infielder Brendan Lyons and sophomore pitcher/outfielder Jacob Przyzbylo.

“I like this team a lot,” Kloss said. “These kids are probably one of the hardest working groups I’ve had thus far and I think it’ll stay that way.”

The Warriors will get to work on April 8 against Anderson.



Truman



Returning the majority of his hard-hitting team from a year ago, Truman Coach Brad Schwartz looks forward to a season led by players with varsity experience.

“Last year, we were really young, but we only lost two seniors,” Schwartz said. “These guys coming back will help us with more experience.”

Dylan Woolley returns to anchor the Cougar pitching staff and middle infield while fellow seniors Hunter Hanson, Devin Goodwell and William Ellis join him in the rotation.

Hanson will see time at first base, Goodwell will play right field and Ellis will be behind the plate when not on the mound.

Four-year player Kyle Collett returns to steal hits from opposing players in centerfield and will be joined in the outfield by returning junior Justin Littleton.

Other juniors will include Jordan Gardener (utility), Tyler Davis (outfield), Colin Sweet (pitcher/first base) and Rhys Hamilton (pitcher).

Returning sophomore Jalen Bartos will see time on the mound and will be an everyday third baseman while fellow 10th-graders Seth Maudlin (catcher), Nick Vencelov (utility), Zack Kaminski (infielder) and freshman Hunter Pribik (pitcher/infield) all vie for time.

“We’ve always been able to hit the ball pretty well,” Schwartz said. “We’re a little deeper this year pitching-wise than we were in the past, which we need to be with all these double-headers.”

Weather permitting, Truman’s season will being today with a trip to Romulus.



Melvindale



The Melvindale Cardinals will be comprised of several returners from last year’s district championship team that reached a regional final.

The strong arm and reliable bat of junior Jason Doyle returns to behind the plate and at cleanup for the Cards.

Other returning seniors include Spencer Bingham (third/center field/pitcher), Nick West (pitcher/middle infield), Austin Graff (third base/shortstop), Nick Holbrook (pitcher/first/third), Fred Ruiffin (left field) and Derrick Paluchniak (second base).

Junior Skylar Slotka also returns and will play left field while batting fifth.

Sophomore Kress Medina will play middle infield, junior Ian Striz will play first, junior Ross Ladach will catch and DH and junior Malik Boynton will see time at third base.

Senior Nick Kean and juniors Ben Konarski, KleSean Clark and Louis Brooks will be used in utility roles.

Despite the impressive run in last year’s postseason, Melvindale Coach Merle Shepard expects to see season-long improvement in his team.

“Last year, we played about .500 overall,” Shepard said. “We should be better than we were last year.

“I think defensively and pitching, we should be deeper. We just want to be real competitive. Realy being competitive is the main thing.”

The Cards will open the season at Truman on April 10.



Lincoln Park



Lincoln Park Coach Brian Amorose and his Railsplitter team made progress last year and the group is looking to continue improving in the competitive Downriver League.

“Here at Lincoln Park, we’re looking forward to our upcoming season,” Amorose said. “We felt like we took some steps in the right direction and we want to continue on that path this season.”

The Rails will face a tall task in replacing graduated pitcher Jeremy Hardesty, but Amorose is optimistic that the rotation of senior Josh Jones, Alex Osborne, sophomore Alexis Santos and freshman Steven Glenn will have success.

The heart of the Railsplitter batting order will look also look a lot different from last season.

“In all reality, what may be more difficult to replace is the middle of the lineup,” Amorose said. “Last year, we had three seniors in the 3-4-5 spots. As of right now, we may be sophomore, sophomore, freshman in the heart of our lineup.”

Junior Joel Santos will be solid behind the plate, senior Joe Fender brings a good glove at shortstop and Glenn and sophomore Josh Clark will rotate at the corners.

Jones and senior Daniel Gonzales will be everyday outfielders.

“We’re still looking at different guys to maximize out the lineup when certain guys are on the mound, which is great because it creates a season long of healthy competition during practices.”

Josh Cote and Cam Lizak will also see time on the mound and in the field for the Rails.



Carlson



Carlson will look to bounce back from a 6-24-1 season with a group that features seven seniors.

Chris Langdon, Troy Roberts, Antonio Hollis, Ramon Hollis and Garland Sutton will all bring experience to the mound as well as the field.

Langdon and Sutton will see time at first, Roberts will play third, Antonio Hollis will man second base and Ramon Hollis will be joined in the outfield by Alejandro Torres.

Senior Brandon Balaszi will be used as a utility player.

Juniors Kyle Francek, Alex Feko, Andrew Moore, Mike Harvey and Eric Goleniak will all get chances at pitcher.

Francek will play on the middle infield, Feko will play shortstop, Goleniak will see time in the outfield and Moore and Harvey will each be used in utility.

Sophomore Kyle Howard will catch and fellow 10th-graders Jordan Payne (outfield/pitcher) and Adam Lizyness (utility/pitcher) will also see time for the Marauders.



Roosevelt

Roosevelt opens the spring season looking to fill a few important holes from last year’s team, but Coach Brian Cotner is confident that the Bears will compete with a talented group of returners.

“We have a lot of returners who’ve had a lot of experience and have had some success,” Cotner said. “Hopefully, we can get some of these new guys to stop up so that we can build on what we did last year.”

Two of Roosevelt’s top hitters return in senior infielder Vinnie Jelsomeno and junior outfielder Austin Petravicius.

The Bears also bring back two of their top arms in senior Hunter Shurtz and William Ososkie.

Also looking to contribute on the mound will be junior pitcher/first baseman Justin Armatis and freshman pitcher/infielder Tyler Thorington.

Sophomore Blake Baldwin and senior utility man John Cox will also see plenty of time on the Roosevelt infield.

While the weather has kept the Bears off the field, Cotner is pleased with the work his team has put in leading up to the season.

“I think we’re getting some good work in and the newer guys are responding to the competition,” Cotner said. “We have a lot of spots that aren’t quite determined, so I think the competition is kind of felt in our practices.

“The kids have great attitudes and we seem to have great chemistry. If we throw some strikes and get some timely hitting, we should be alright.”

The Bears will look to do just that over spring break when they compete in the Oakland County Baseball Classic, which will consist of three double-headers.

Roosevelt will open the Classic on April 1 against Birmingham Groves at Bishop Foley.



Last Updated: 3/26/2013 12:34:09 PM EST

Promotions & Specials

See All