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Boardman baseball team looks to bounce back from difficult 2019 season

March 18, 2020
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

The 2019 season wasn't exactly a stellar one for the Boardman baseball program.

The Spartans struggled to score runs all season and they equally had trouble when facing their foes from the All American Conference. Boardman's boys finished last year with a 3-3 conference record which was only good for third place in the AAC. Their 16-13 overall mark wasn't one worth shouting about either and they failed to advance past the sectional round of the Division I state tournament. Head coach Joe Gabriel realizes there is a lot of improvement needed in 2020 and he hopes it starts with his upperclassmen.

"We will need our seniors to lead the way," said Gabriel who enters his seventh year as Boardman's boss man. "We then need contributions from some of the younger, talented players."

The quickest way for a baseball team to bounce back from a mediocre season is to get strong pitching performances on a consistent basis. Thankfully, Gabriel will be able to count upon some experienced hurlers who have already found some success on the mound.

"We bring back a good amount of pitching," Gabriel said. "Tyler Peterson, Mason Smith and Carmen Cavalier will need to anchor the pitching staff. Jimmy Whippo, Jason Triveri and Guy Young will all need to take big steps forward on the mound too."

Left-hander Peterson and righty Smith are a junior and senior respectively who both earned All-AAC honors a season ago. Cavalier is also a senior who throws from the right side. Triveri, as well as Peterson will start in the outfield when they are not starting on the bump. They will be joined out there by sophomore Nate Fleming. Juniors Carmine Lamanna and Patrick Hubert will also be needed to fill holes at times in the outfield.

"Our outfield will have experience and depth," said Gabriel.

The two other seniors filling out Boardman's roster are another potential pitcher Jim Goske and infielder Carmen Quattro. Perhaps Boardman's most dependable player is junior catcher Connor Miller. He was All-AAC as a sophomore and makes Gabriel very comfortable each time he straps on the catching gear.

"We bring back Connor Miller as our starting catcher and he is one of the best catchers in the area," Gabriel said confidently.

As sure as the coach is on the hill and behind the plate, he is less ecstatic about his team's prospects when it strides to the plate. Solid hitting was bothersome to Boardman last year and it will need to be better if the team is to eclipse the 20 win plateau. Coach Gabriel theorizes that improvement in that area may start at the top of the batting order.

"We need to swing it better than last year," he said honestly. "We also need to find a true leadoff guy who can set the table for us."

The veteran manager also would like his squad to make strides at second base and shortstop.

"We will be young and inexperienced up the middle," Gabriel said. "Quattro, Griffin Widrig and Seth Cervello will need to make big strides forward and calm the middle down for us."

There is nothing calming about the competition the Spartans will face regularly inside the AAC. Home in home series' versus the likes of defending conference champion Canfield, Austintown Fitch, Howland and Warren Harding would have any school shaking, regardless of its level of rebuilding.

"We will look to bounce back this year in the always very tough AAC," Gabriel said.

Road trips to Canton GlenOak, Champion, Poland, South Range and Cleveland Lakewood St. Edward will also test the Spartans' predicted success on the pitching mound. Hopefully, the Spartans can continue to build off of some of the momentum they gained from late season wins a year ago.

"We need to get off to a better start than we did last year," Gabriel said. "We finished very strong the last half of last year and need to pick right back up with that."



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