By Jimmy Allinder
Spotswood High School baseball coach Glenn Fredricks is taking what he calls a fluid approach to deciding which of his pitchers will start the next game.
The Chargers are stocked with a number of able arms and in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Blue Division, that can be a major advantage where teams with multiple quality pitchers have sometimes been scarce.
“We’re fortunate to have a lot of pitchers,” said Fredricks, whose team finished 20-9 overall and 7-5 in the division last spring. “Some are more experienced than others but as a staff, we’re still working on getting pitch counts up. Who we think is ready on game day will get the call, and that includes pitching relief.”
Following a 7-2 loss in the season opener to South River High School April 1, the second of a back-to-back series was rained out the following day. The Chargers were again in action April 5 at Carteret High School, and the teams met in Spotswood the next day.
“This is a special year in the Blue [Division],” Fredricks said. “Almost every team has at least two quality pitchers, which isn’t always the case. This is, after all, a small-school division.”
Despite the season-opening loss to South River — a division opponent and a rival at that — Fredricks is confident his team can contend for the division title, which it hasn’t won since 2007. In addition to a number of returning starting players, the lineup will be infused with talent from the team that captured the GMC Junior Varsity Tournament last spring.
Leading the way is all-conference outfielder and pitcher Matt Krause, a senior who batted .322 with 29 hits, 31 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. The American International College commit hopes to improve his average and continue to be one of the team leaders on the base paths.
Senior outfielder Jake Ryan is another player who will continue his career in college after committing to Delaware Valley University. Last spring, he hit .283 with 28 runs and 26 hits. Senior Danny Newton will be a valuable cog in the lineup coming off a season in which he batted .333 with 28 hits and 26 RBIs, while junior second baseman Ryan Szatkowski returns after hitting .346.
The rest of the lineup includes senior third baseman Shawn O’Conner (.293, 27 hits, 24 RBIs); Matt Ciacco, who also plays first base along with junior Thomas Walker; catchers Sal Mistretta (junior) and Greg Welsh (senior); junior shortstop Nick Mohr, who also pitches; and junior J.T. Vento, who plays outfield and pitches.
Others who will see action include senior third baseman Paul Marks, sophomore outfielder Nick Vincelli, sophomore catcher Mike Izzo and junior outfielder Chris Auciello, who also pitches.
Those who exclusively pitch are junior Andrew Fuzesi, sophomore Fred Rago and sophomore Nate Carone.
“We played some pretty good teams in preseason to get ready, and we had some mixed results,” Fredricks said. “Our approach has always been and always will be to play aggressively and take advantage of our opportunities.”