Two large conference games with Massillon Perry highlight this week of baseball for the Boardman boys.
If the Spartans can procure that pair from Perry it will go a long way in keeping them in the hunt for a Federal League championship. Right now, the Spartans sit three games off the pace in the ferocious Federal, but still have the chance to defend their league crown.
Of course, Boardman will need a little help too since it was handled by unbeaten North Canton Hoover in two games last week. The Vikings slid by the Spartans 4-1 in Canton on April 16 then whitewashed the local kids 11-0 a couple days later in Boardman. According to Boardman head coach Bob Beam, the reason why his team lost by a combined 15-1 to the hot Hoover group was a lack of offense.
"Our hitting is a concern right now," Beam said on Monday. "We played well versus Hoover, but we left too many guys on base. We haven't had any timely hitting."
One hitter who has been a run producer for the Spartans is junior Eddie Crump who is hitting over .400 and is leading the team in RBI. Crump crippled the ball in a conference win earlier this April over Canton GlenOak when he went 3 -or-4 with two RBI. Senior John Diamond has also been huge on the diamond both literally and figuratively. Diamond went 2-for-4 with two runs in that same win over the Eagles and at 6 feet, 4 inches and 260 pounds, he presents an imposing figure for opposing pitchers to throw to.
Perhaps one of Boardman's biggest problems besides the hitting has been its overall experience. Due to a green roster, Beam at times has had to pencil as many as four sophomores and one freshman in his starting lineup. Only two seniors, centerfielder Nico DiIanni and shortstop Joe Lendak, have been everyday starters for the young Spartans.
"It's tough when you have to play as many young players as we have," lamented Beam.
Boardman's inexperience is really felt when it comes to the pitching rotation. There hasn't been one senior that has taken the hill for Beam all season and that is rough considering the amount of talented lineups the Spartans have to face on an a daily basis in the Federal. Despite the lack of veteran arms, coach Beam still cites his pitching as the strength of the Spartans at this time.
"(Pitching) has kept us in games," Beam announced. "We have good young talent. Pitching coach Joe Gabriel has done a nice job developing these kids."
Sophomore Scott Lendak has been the number one starter for the Spartans and has done an admirable job facing opposing team's aces all spring. Junior Jake Baun is leading the team in strikeouts and sports an ERA around 2.00. Freshman Lou Cardona has shown maturity beyond his age on the mound and left-handed junior reliever Aaron Dill leads the team in saves while posting an ERA under 1.30.
Near-perfect pitching will be needed for Boardman if it is to battle for another league title. Being behind three games with only six league games remaining will make things tough on Beam's boys, but the coach is keeping the faith.
"We won the league title with three losses last year so we still have a chance," said Beam positively. "We're not out of it yet."