Baseball – 2014 Preview: Middletown South
Head Coach: Ryan Spillane, sixth season
Record Last Year: 14-10 (9-5, tied for second in A North)
|Returning Starters||Yr.||Position||2013 Batting Stats||2013 Pitching Stats|
|Joe Timmins||Jr.||OF||.345, .449 OBP, 11 SB|
|Andrew Wisialko||Sr.||OF/P||23 H, 11 SB|
|Returning Players||Yr.||Position||2013 Batting Stats||2013 Pitching Stats|
Key Losses: Perry Kulaga (P/2B), Rob Grilli (P/1B), Frank Servidio (2B), Mike Grossi (3B/P), Nick McGann (C), Mike Diorio (P), Piero Vescio (P)
Key Newcomers: Colin Bergin (Jr., P), Zach deRocco (Jr., P/INF), Austin Markmann (So., P/INF), Nolan Pereless (Jr., OF), Zack Schild (So., C), Johnny Zega (So., INF/P)
In six years with head coach Ryan Spillane at the helm, Middletown South has developed a reputation as a team that plays better than the sum of its parts, even when those parts are really good. The Eagles have a sectional championship and division title under their belt during that six-year stretch and have also had seasons like last year, when they answered some questions heading into the season by finishing tied for second place in the division despite losing some key talent.
This year will present a similar challenge for Middletown South, which returns five starters in the field, but has very little experience on the mound. The Eagles were extremely reliant on their pitching in 2013, winning nine division games despite scoring only 45 runs in 14 division contests (3.2 per game) and not scoring more than six in any of them. On the bright side, returnees Kyle Brey, Joe Timmins and Andrew Wisialko were three of Middletown South’s more productive hitters last year and the offense will actually have a chance to improve from last season.
The biggest challenge for Middletown South will be to put together a pitching staff that can come close to replicating what last year’s staff – led by seniors Perry Kulaga and Rob Grilli – accomplished. While a number of Middletown South teams have overachieved in recent years, the common thread between those teams was one proven varsity pitcher returning to the rotation, which this team does not have as the season opens. Senior Matt Platenyk looks to take the spot at the top of the rotation after missing last season with a broken leg, and juniors Colin Bergin, Zach deRocco and sophomore Austin Markmann figure to round out the rotation. Wisialko will also handle some of the pitching load when he’s not in center field.
Middletown South will rely on its position players to continue to play great defense and pick up the scoring this year while the pitching sorts itself out. If the Eagles can wake up their bats after a light-hitting 2013, they will once again find a way to hang in the division race despite some questions on the mound.