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Spartans look to seniors to step up

March 22, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

After falling in the districts last season to Walsh Jesuit, Boardman baseball head coach Joe Gabriel realized his team needed to pick things up offensively.

Scoring was suspect for the Spartans in 2017 so the coach will depend on a group of six very strong seniors to help jumpstart the bats. Gabriel feels that jumping ahead on the scoreboard will allow his very good pitching staff to settle in and dominate opposing teams.

"We need to be more offensive this year and put up more runs," said Gabriel. "Last year was a struggle to put up runs. We need our seniors to step up and lead our offense."

Leading the sextet of Spartan senior starters will be catcher Evan Knaus.

"Knaus is a middle of the order guy that needs to produce," Gabriel said.

Three-year starters Luke Cardillo and Dom Stilliana will make up two-thirds of Boardman's outfield. This dynamic duo was actually two Boardman batters who enjoyed breakout seasons a year ago.

"Cardillo and Stilliana will need to have big offensive years again," said Gabriel.

Senior Mike Melewski has been a mainstay for Gabriel for a few seasons and is valuable because of his versatility.

"Melewski will be counted on to play all over the field for us," Gabriel said.

The other seniors that Coach Gabriel will heavily rely on are Alex Cardona and Jared Wilson. Cardona is a fixture at second base for Boardman, but what he and Wilson do really well is throw the baseball. That pair along with juniors Dylan Gurski and lefty Cam Kreps will be the quartet that toes the rubber the most for the Spartans in 2018.

"We need big seasons on the mound from Cardona, Gurski, Wilson and Kreps for us to be successful," said Gabriel. "We bring back a good amount of our pitching staff. Our depth and experience will help us replace two good starters from last year."

Junior infielder/pitcher Travis Harvey and junior infielder Mike Fetsko will also find themselves in the starting lineup most of the time this year.

"Fetsko and Harvey will need to step up as juniors," Gabriel said.

There is also a quintet of other Spartans who should get plenty of varsity playing time before this campaign comes to an end. Outfielder Shay Eicher and third baseman Luke Stauffer are a pair of juniors that should see starting time once in a while. Sophomores Connor Miller, Tyler Peterson and Charlie Davis should help at catcher, outfield and the corner infield spots respectively as well. Keep an eye on Peterson from the pitching mound too because he is a left-hander with good stuff.

Boardman will need to battle hard all year because the All American Red Tier is ferocious. Canfield and Fitch combine to bring back nearly 30 seniors. Howland is the defending champ and returns its ace-starting pitcher. The Spartans finished 2017 in third place in the Red Tier, but overall barely made it above the .500 mark. That's why Coach Gabriel thinks it's so important to be more than a club predicated on just pitching. Having some punch will also allow the Spartans to eclipse one of their larger goals for this season too.

"We are looking to get back (to the districts) then take that next step to the regionals," Gabriel said.



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