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2014 Downriver League baseball preview PHOTOS

  • Senior Jack Mcleod will be in the middle of a powerful Kennedy batting order this year, following a 2013 season in which hit .345 and had 15 RBIs for the district champs. (News-Herald File Photo)
  • Trenton senior Jerry LaBell posted a 3.50 ERA last season and was third on the team in strikeouts with 31. (News-Herald File Photo)
  • Back for Downriver League co-champion Anderson is senior Tyler Hall, who had a 0.88 ERA and 46 strikeouts as a pitcher and started at shortstop. (News-Herald File Photo)
  • Carlson sophomore Zach Kohn is back for the Marauders after a freshman campaign that featured two victories on the mound and 20 hits at the plate. (News-Herald File Photo)
With an experienced group of talented players, along with a deep pitching staff, defending district champion Kennedy looks primed for a big season in 2014.

Helping to guide the Eagles, who went 22-9 and 13-5 in the league last year, will be pitching staff ace and starting first baseman Matt Woloszyk, a six-foot-seven senior who is committed to University of Cincinnati. As a junior, he was 4-2 on the hill with a 2.22 ERA and at the plate hit .361 with 14 RBIs.

Annapolis transfer Tyler Butzin will be the No. 2 pitcher in Coach Corey Farner’s rotation and will start in the outfield. Currently the junior lefty is being recruited by several Division 1 schools, following a season in which he led Annapolis in strikeouts, RBIs and was perfect in stolen-base attempts.

Adrian University-commit Aaron Ajrouche will step into the No. 3 spot in the pitching order and will start at shortstop.

Farner said that having experienced fielders, along with rotation depth, should give his squad a big advantage this year, especially with games likely to be played in a shorter than usual amount of time.

“Our strength this season will be our pitching and defense,” he said. “The number of arms we have that can go out and throw strikes will greatly benefit us, as it looks like our season will be condensed due to weather.”

Junior Cody Serafin will be Kennedy’s No. 4 starter after fanning 23 batters last year and earning a 2.10 ERA with one shutout. When not pitching, Serafin will start in the outfield and at the plate will be near the top of the lineup, coming off of a season that featured a .360 batting average, 16 RBIs and nine stolen bases.

Catching for Kennedy once again this spring will be senior Dion Craig and he will be backed up by juniors Tanner Hodges and Tyler DeBusk.

Also starting in the outfield, and seeing time on the hill, will be senior Jack Mcleod, whose pitches have been clocked at near 90 miles-per-hour. At the plate, he’ll be in the middle of the order, having hit .345 last season, along with 15 RBIs and eight stolen bases.

Junior Jalen Bartos is set to start at third base and will also be looked to for contributions on the mound, as will juniors Santino Mahs and Raymond Richard, who was the top hurler on last year’s junior varsity team.

As of last week, four players were competing for the job at second base, with senior Eric Hill, junior Denver Kirk and sophomores Mateo Perez and Alex Reynolds in the mix.

Also battling for time this season will be senior outfielder Dalton Kirk and junior utility player Tim Kozar.

“We look good on paper, but that never won anything,” Farner said. “We have a very strong league with great coaches and great talent throughout. It will be a challenge every game.”

Kennedy is scheduled to open up league play on Monday with a game at Melvindale.

Anderson

Despite losing some key players from last year’s Downriver League co-championship squad, Anderson is back in 2014 and ready to compete once again.

Some of the Titans gone from last year’s team, which went 22-10, are pitching staff ace Josh Lockwood and big-time hitters Shane Freitag and Gabe Becker.

However, leading the way on the mound this season will be senior Tyler Hall, who had a paltry 0.88 ERA in 39.2 innings last year and struck out 46 batters. While not on the mound, he played shortstop and at the plate hit .313 in 67 at-bats.

Seniors Kyle Riddle and Jonah Peryam will also be on the hill for the Titans this spring, as will fellow seniors Dylan Downs and Brandon Ostrowski. In 2013, Riddle and Peryman combined for 50 innings pitched and 29 strikeouts, while Downs and Ostrowski combined for 28 innings and fanned 23 batters.

While Anderson Coach Dave Fast was still deciding on a starting lineup as of last week, he did say senior Dylan Voss will see time in the infield. Last year, Voss hit .315 in 54 at-bats and knocked in 12 runs.

Expected to provide offensive firepower this season are juniors Blake Sloan and Joe Galetto, along with sophomore Joe Lemming.

Sloan comes back with a full year of experience, as he hit .321 as a sophomore outfielder with 13 RBIs in 56 at-bats.

Juniors who Fast will look to for contributions this season are Curtis Derome, Donavan Thacker, Brendan Phee, Victor Chavez, Danny McCoy and David Bellon.

“As always, Southgate has high expectations,” Fast said. “We are defending league champions and have won 20 games six years in a row. The Titans have won either a league or district championship five years in a row.”

Anderson is scheduled to kick off its season April 9 at Kennedy.



Allen Park

With winter weather causing big problems, Allen Park Coach Glenn Gulliver is still putting the pieces together as the Jaguars look to compete for another league title after finishing tied with Anderson a season ago for first place.

“We are a younger team this year and basically just waiting to get outside to see how the team looks,”

Gulliver said.

Last season, Allen Park finished with a 21-12 overall record, en route to the co-championship in the DRL.

Returning seniors for 2014 are Dan Schmidt, Kyle Roberts, Ryan Oakley and Mike Bradford. Roberts was strong at the plate last year, as he hit .384 and knocked in 18 runs, while Bradford and Oakley combined for 135 at-bats and 15 RBIs.

Gulliver said that the pitching duties will like be handled by Bradford, as well as juniors Dan Monear, Troy Konwinski and Antonio Reviere, along with sophomore Conner Devoe and freshman Nick Wayman.

Catching will be Schmidt and junior Jimmy Howell, he said, while in mix for infield spots are Bradford, Monear, Konwinski and Roberts, as well as juniors Logan Tkach and J.T. Nester and sophomore Lorenz Frasier.

In the outfield, Oakley, Reviere, Devoe, junior Joey Rios and sophomore Nate Berellez are all being considered for spots.

The 2014 campaign is scheduled to get underway Monday for Allen Park with a DRL battle at Trenton.



Woodhaven

While half of last season’s strong Woodhaven squad was lost to graduation, veteran Coach Bob Kloss is optimistic heading into 2014.

Last year’s group finished 17-10 and 13-5 in league play, just one game behind first-place Allen Park and Anderson.

Kloss, who is now in his 41st year at the helm, will have a tough 1-2 punch at the top of his pitching rotation in seniors Blake Harris and Enrique Reboyras, who will serve as co-captains after combining for 36.1 innings of work last year. Harris has committed to play baseball at Cleary College and Reboyras is headed to Henry Ford Community College.

Other returning senior starters for Woodhaven will be outfielder Noah Bear and hurler Jordan Thayer, who had a combined 87 at-bats. Also outfielder Jake Przybylo will be back after getting 13 RBIs as a sophomore and junior pitcher Brendan Lyons has returned after recording 35.1 innings on the mound as a 10th grader.

Kloss will look to several juniors for help this season, including catchers Colin Moran and Daniel Dayfield, as well as pitchers Robert Oliver, Adam Willinger and Andrew Whitecomb and outfielders Brian Kren and Ryan Ford.

Sophomores Remington Sancho and Nolan Schewe will battle for time, as well, in 2014. Sancho is a pitcher and a catcher, while Schewe is a utility infielder.

To open the season, the Warriors are scheduled to welcome in Lincoln Park on Monday for a league contest.



Truman

For Truman Coach Chad Schwartz and his Cougars, the 2014 season will likely be a time for rebuilding.

Gone are standouts such as Dylan Woolley and Kyle Collett from a squad that went 13-16 a year ago, but played several opponents tough.

This season, Schwartz will look to junior Zack Kaminski and sophomore Joe Contreras for major contributions on the mound and in the infield. Kaminski got 61 at-bats as a sophomore, but Contreras only had 27 total plate appearances.

Several seniors will see time this season, but most are lacking varsity experience, Schwartz said.

Seniors Justin Littleton and Tyler Davis are set to play outfield this year, while fellow 12th graders Colin Sweet and Jordan Gardner will both pitch and take on infield roles and Justin Collins will catch. Of the group, Sweet had the best performance at the plate last year, hitting .293 in 82 at-bats and driving in 20 runs.

Truman’s DRL season is scheduled to start April 7 with a home game against in-city rival Kennedy.



Melvindale

After finishing below .500 in 2013, Melvindale Coach Merle Shepard will go forward with some talented returning players in place for this season.

Senior catcher and co-captain Jason Doyle is back for his fourth year as a varsity player and will serve as cleanup hitter this year. For the last two seasons, he has led Melvindale in RBIs.

Senior first baseman Ian Striz has returned for his second year on varsity and will be a co-captain for the Cardinals and will hit in the sixth spot in the batting order.

Athletic senior Malik Boynton, who is committed to Austin Peay University for football, will play outfield and pinch run for Shepard’s squad when necessary.

At second base and pitching will be sophomore Tristin Mathes, while senior Ben Konarski will also see time at second, as well as playing first and serving as a designated hitter when needed.

The Cards’ shortstop and leadoff hitter will be junior Kress Medina, who will also be seeing some time on the mound.

Returning at third base is sophomore Kolby McGill, who will also pitch and hit third in the lineup.

Playing left field and hitting fifth will be senior Ross Ladach, who will catch when Doyle pitches.

In center and at the No. 2 spot in the batting order will be senior Skylar Slotka, who has hit better than .300 the past two seasons.

Senior Branden Stennett will be in right field and should also see some time on the infield and on the mound.

Others who should see action for Melvindale this season are seniors Tim DeLong, Jake Belch, Cody Sharp and Brandon West, as well as juniors Darin David and Ryan Large-Agee, sophomore Bob Adkins and freshman Coby Boynton.

The Cardinals are scheduled to get the season started Monday at home against Kennedy.



Roosevelt

As veteran Roosevelt Coach Brian Cotner heads into the 2014 campaign, he will have to rely on a young group of players to compete in the tough DRL.

This season’s squad has four seniors, eight juniors and two sophomores.

Sophomore Tyler Thorington will pitch and play shortstop for Roosevelt, while senior Austin Petravicius will start in the outfield and junior Michael Bennett is slated to start as catcher.

At first base will be junior Jacob Moore, while sophomore Bailey Adkins and junior Sam Head will split time at second and junior Andrew Hogge will be at the hot corner for the Bears.

In the outfield, juniors Todd Sutherby and Gino Martino will split time in left, while Petravicius will patrol center and senior William Ososkie will be stationed in right.

“In general, we have an inexperienced team and our season will hinge on how quickly they develop,” said Cotner.

“We are going to focus on throwing strikes, picking up the ball and getting some timely hits. As a team, we need to improve each day if we want to be competitive in this league. While we have a long ways to go, I believe in this group.”

The Bears are scheduled to start league competition April 4 with a game at Kennedy.



Carlson

In what will be the 50th year of baseball at Carlson High School, Coach Chad Liptow and the Marauders will have their work cut out for them in 2014.

Having lost several players since last season, the squad has to replace a total of 576 at-bats and 24 pitching decisions from 2013.

“We have a good group of kids that are working hard for positions,” Liptow said. “We should improve as we get experience.”

This year’s roster is made up of three senior players, seven juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.

Key returning players are seniors Kyle Francek and Mike Harvey, along with sophomore Zach Kohn and junior Kyle Howard.

After getting 31 hits, along with five wins on the mound last year, Francek will serve as a pitcher and an infielder, while outfielder Harvey returns after getting 16 hits as a junior.

Kohn, who will pitch and play outfield, had 26 hits as a freshman and won two games on the hill, while catcher Kyle Howard is back after getting 20 hits during his sophomore campaign.

Senior Andrew Moore could also see time in the outfield, along with junior Jordan Payne. In the infield, juniors Adam Lizyness and Andrew Coleman and freshman Steve McIsaac could all be called into action.

Juniors John Castillo, Austin Francis and Anthony Martucci are listed as utility players, as is sophomore Payton Auer.

In addition to Francek and Kohn, others who could see time on the mound are Lizyness, Coleman, Payne, Auer and McIsaac.

For the Marauders, the 2014 campaign is set to get underway April 2 at Kennedy.



Trenton

Coming off of a tough season, Trenton Coach Todd Szalka hopes to get the Trojans back to their winning ways in 2014.

To get it done, he’ll have to rely on a young group this spring, as the squad will have five seniors, six juniors and four sophomores.

“As a program, we expect to put a team on the field that is competitive, baseball smart and an example of the high level of baseball being played in the Downriver area,” Szalka said.

Juniors Quinn Preston and Brady Tanguay are two of last year’s key players who are both back to anchor down the middle of the infield, while senior Jerry LaBell will start at first when he's not pitching and senior Grant Dukus will start at third if he's not on the mound.

In 24 innings pitched last year, LaBell posted a 3.50 ERA and was third on the team in strikeouts with 31. Offensively, Dukus came up big in his junior season, as he hit .324, knocked in 15 runs and stole 10 bases.

At the catching position this season, junior Nick Bondy and sophomore Jake Nabozny will both compete for time behind the plate.

The Trenton outfield will feature seniors Drew Johnson and Brett Murray, with sophomores Sol Markus and Garden City transfer Cody Montroy seeing action, as well.

Sophomore Grant McClellan will get time at third, first and as a designated hitter, as Szalka said he will want to keep his bat in the lineup as much as possible.

Senior Kyle Kasenow and juniors Dru Doree and Ryunoske Ando will lead the way on the mound, but as of last week Szalka said the coaching staff was still deciding on a rotation.

Trenton’s first league game of the new season is scheduled for Monday at home against Allen Park.



Lincoln Park

While Lincoln Park struggled early last season, it played tough down the stretch and won 10 of its last 14 games.

This season, Railsplitters Coach Brian Amorose hopes that momentum will carry over for his club.

While positions will likely be shuffled around, key players back this spring expected to make an immediate impact are seniors Joel Santos and Cam Lizak, juniors Alexis Santos and Josh Clark sophomore Steven Glenn. Seniors Dakota Locklear, Josh Cote and Eric Reynolds also return to the squad this year.

Other players being looked to for contributions are sophomores Nate Hashbarger and Aaron Betancourt, while Amorose said Hashbarger will see time in the outfield and Betancourt will play shortstop and third base.

Handing most of the pitching duties will be Glenn, Alexis Santos and junior Javonte Campbell, while Joel Santos will be behind the plate this year and will serve as a leader for the squad.

Led by Joel Santos, whose grade point average exceeds 4.0, Amorose said that this year’s squad is eligible for Academic All-State honors.

“I truly believe that their hard work in the classroom will translate onto the field,” he said. “We want our program to be competitive on the field and in the classroom.”

Lincoln Park is scheduled to get the 2014 league season started with a game Monday at Woodhaven.









Last Updated: 4/1/2014 3:00:29 PM EST

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