By Dave Ricci email@example.com
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The St. Joe’s baseball team hits the field this season in search of its third consecutive Georgetown Cup championship. Though they have graduated signifigant members of its roster, like pitcher Matt Matre and second baseman Jared Baldinelli (St.Bonaventure), they return plenty of talent that will have them in the hunt for another title run.
“I think what we’ve developed over the course of the years. We’ve developed the ability to turn over and keep a consistent product,” said St. Joe’s coach Paul Nasca. “We have some good depth on the mound. I think that’s a big factor for us and I think we’ve got some life at the plate.
“We can also swing the bats,” he continued. “We lost some guys from last year. We’re going to have to shore up what we’re doing in the middle because our starting shortstop (Tyler Howard) is one of our top pitchers, so we’re going to be vacating that (spot). And of course we’ve got to replace second base. So any time you’re having that kind of movement in the middle you’ve got to work on continuity and it’s going to take some time.”
This season coach Paul Nasca will look to the 1-2 combo of senior Chris Falk and Tyler Howard to lead the pitching staff.
Howard is already off to a strong start as his performance on the mound in St.Joe’s 6-0 win over Lancaster earned him a spot on WKBW-TV’s Super 7 Athletes of the Week. Falk opened with a three-hitter in St. Joe’s 5-2 win over Aquinas on April 6.
Center fielder Phil Wells and catcher Alex Kovacs also lead the cast of core returnees. Kovacs is a four year starter on varsity and Wells is coming off of a spectacular junior season that saw him hit .446, stroke four home runs and drive in 29.
“We have some veterans,” said Nasca. “Alex Kovacs, Phil Wells, Chirs Falk. They’ve been around and that’s a good core. Tommy Brummer, Matt Ruggiero. But I think what we have to do it we’ve got some key spots that we are plugging some people in and there is competition for those spots. ... We’re going to be a very versatile team.
“We’ve got three guys who can go behind the plate and do a very good job. We’ve got guys who can play the corners. We’ve got outfielders who are very flexible. I like our flexibility. I like our ability to adjust. It’s just a question of who’s going to step up and swing the bats. And if we get some consistent pitching we’re going to be competitive and we’re going to be there at the end.”
Ruggiero and David Archer, who will also catch, should bring some offensive pop to the middle of the batting order. Bryce Donovan, who could emerge as one of the best outfielders in the MMAA this year, will also see some time at catcher.
Ask any baseball veteran and they will tell you pitching is key. And having a strong core of arms on the hill is what the Cardinal O’Hara Hawks baseball team is banking on in 2014.
As the Hawks enter the new season they will be led by senior co-captains Zach Glowacki and Ryan Wojcinski. Glowacki, a lefty who has signed to play for D-I Niagara University, will play center field and pitch. Wojcinski will play first base and see time behind the plate.
Zach Morris (SS) is another proven veteran who gives the Hawks a chance to win every time he steps on the mound.
Senior Luciano Fermo (3B), junior Madison Hall (1B/3B) and Ryan Pacinski round out the Hawks staff.
“Right now we have six quality pitchers,” said Caso. “Hopefully we can do more than compete this year. (Hopefully) we can win our fair share of games and do some damage in the playoffs.”
Caso said he is also extremely happy to have former Hawk standout Angelo Sciandra IV on the coaching staff working with the pitchers.
Caso said given the bad weather Western New York has had this spring, many teams will likely be facing a compacted scheduled at some point. Which makes depth on the mound more important. In fact Caso is so confident in his staff he welcomes a scenario of a condensed schedule.
“I think it would be to our advantage as a team if we played four times a week,” Caso said. “Because I have a clear No. 1 and a clear No. 2, I don’t know which one is one and which one is two between Morris and Wojcinski, and then everybody else is a quality No. 3. I could put their names in a hat.”
Sophomore David Gariano also returns as the Hawks starting second baseman. Caso is excited to see what Gariano can bring after coming off of a good freshman season that saw Gariano win a starting job midway through the year.
Caso has also been pleased by the team-first attitude his players have shown, especially senior Ryan Bidwell. Previously the Hawks starting catcher, Caso asked Bidwell to move to the outfield and he did so without question or one word of complaint.
“Bidwell is a real, real fast runner and a good outfielder,” said Caso. “I asked him to play the outfield this year and he said he had no problem.”