Berkshire County high school baseball preview capsules, 2017
Once the weather breaks, the high school baseball season can get rolling.
In addition to the local schedule, some teams are involved with major out-of-town tournaments.
Pittsfield and Taconic will head to Cape Cod for the Cape Cod Challenge and the Commonwealth Baseball Classic. Pittsfield will play Sandwich at Doran Park in Bourne on Friday, April 14, at 6 p.m., and then travel to Barnstable for a game with Barnstable on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Taconic will make the trek to Nauset Regional High School for a game against Nauset at 4 p.m. Friday, the 14th. The next morning, the Braves will play Pope John II of Hyannis at 9 at Plymouth North High School.
Pittsfield, Taconic and four other Berkshire County teams will head for Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, N.Y., for the Cooperstown Classic on Tuesday, May 23.
The three-game series starts with Pittsfield and Hoosac Valley at 10 a.m., followed by Wahconah and Drury at 1 p.m., while Taconic and Monument Mountain will finish up at 4.
Coach: Pat Boulger (Fourth year)
Last year: 8-12.
Key returnees: Ryan Dubie, Jr. P; Thaylen Harrison, Sr. SS; Zach Yeaton, Sr. OF; Nate Hillard Sr. OF-INF.
Outlook: Drury coach Pat Boulger called it a fair turnout this spring for Blue Devil tryouts. The Blue Devils are trying to get back into the Division III playoff picture. "We have a young program that is rebuilding. This team is going to work hard every single, solitary day," Boulger said. Boulger said that he believes there are four pitchers with solid arms for Drury, and that's group is led by junior right-hander Ryan Dubie. Thaylen Harrison moves into the shortstop slot with Logan Rumbolt now at MCLA. Harrison, his coach said, is as talented as any shortstop in the county. Junior Dylan Toomey has the unenviable role of stepping in to replace catcher Kody Crosier, who is also at MCLA. One thing Boulger said he is thrilled with is that Chase Preite and Mike Ouimet are former Blue Devils, and he called it a "great honor" to have former players on his staff.
Coach: Tom Hankey (18th year)
Last year: 11-11, lost to Wahconah in Western Massachusetts D-II quarterfinals
Key returnees: Nate Cormier, Sr. P-SS; Joe Aberdale, Sr. 1B; Graham Herrick, Soph. P-INF; Ben Wyatt, Sr. P-OF; Zach Tinker, Sr. P-INF.
Outlook: The Spartans have Herrick out of the lineup right now. The sophomore has some back issues and might not be back until the middle of the month. The longer the weather stays on the inclement side, the better chance the lefty has to come back. Monument seniors Nate Cormier, Joe Aberdale, Zach Tinker and Ben Wyatt, will lead this team. Cormier and junior Mike Goretti will be the shortstop and second baseman, respectively. Sophomore Max Joyner will be the catcher for pitchers like Wyatt, Tinker, junior Jared Henry and Cormier.
Coach: Seamus Morrison (Second year)
Last year: 14-8, lost to West Springfield in the Western Massachusetts D-I semifinals.
Key returnees: Quinn Matthews Sr. CF; Shane McMahon, Sr. P; Jay Coyne, Sr. P; Griff Manns, Sr. INF.
Outlook: Second-year head coach Morrison says pitching and defense will be keys to the PHS success this year. He said the Generals could be a 3-4 run per game team, and will rely on pitching and defense. McMahon and Coyne will take the top spots in the PHS pitching rotation, while three sophomore pitchers will also look to make a name for themselves. There are four sophomores on the 18-player varsity roster.
Coach: Kevin Stannard (25th year)
Last year: 19-3, lost to Westfield in the Western Massachusetts D-I semifinals
Key returnees: Izaiya Mestre, Sr. P-SS; Brett Murphy, Sr., C; Ryan Abel, Sr. 3B; Jake McNeice, Sr. P-OF; Drew DeMartino, Jr. INF.
Outlook: The Braves graduated only one starter, Abdiel Cotto, and to list the rest of the starters would take up a lot of room. Stannard's team has 12 seniors and 14 returning players. While Mestre and McNeice are 1-2 in the rotation, Jake Flynn might get the ball on opening day, because the others came back from basketball. This is the last crack at a Western Mass. title for this group of Braves. Stannard said it is something they have talked about. "Our job is to take the pressure off them," he said. The entire infield, including first baseman Devon Walker and third baseman Ryan Abel, returns. When Mestre doesn't pitch, he'll anchor the infield at shortstop. In the outfield, Deonte Sandifer moves from right to play some center with Jack Cooney, while McNeice will play left.
Coach: Rob Cowdrey (Second year)
Last year: 14-8, Western Massachusetts D-III champions. Lost to Groton-Dunstable in state semifinals.
Key returnees: Will Genaway, Sr. P-INF; Ty Cowdrey, Sr. INF; Patrick Butler, Jr. P; Austin Cancilla Sr. CF.
Outlook: The defending champion Warriors start the year with a target on their collective backs. The second-year coach said that defending the title isn't what they're thinking about. "They look at last year's championship as the seniors' championship," Cowdrey said. "Their mission is to make their own title." Wahconah starts strong up the middle with Genaway at short and Ty Cowdrey at second. Genaway will also be the No. 1 pitcher, along with junior Patrick Butler. Butler will likely play shortstop when Genaway pitches. One of the newcomers is sophomore catcher Joe Woronick. He has the biggest shoes to fill, as he has to replace Assumption College freshman catcher Matt Schneider.
Coach: Mike Larabee (Second year)
Last year: 14-9, lost to Frontier in Western Massachusetts D-III semifinals
Key returnees: Noah Matrigali, Sr. P-OF; Keagan McGrath, Jr. P; Jack Sniezek Sr. 3B.
Outlook: Matt Koperniak is now playing at Division III Trinity, so that's a huge hole for second-year coach Mike Larabee. The Hurricanes are either really experienced or really young. Hoosac has seven seniors, no juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen on its varsity roster. Things start on the bump with senior right-hander Noah Matrigali and senior lefty Keagan McGrath at the top of the Hoosac rotation. Larabee expects sophomore righty John Krol and sophomore left-hander Devin Kogut to slot in behind the senior duo. While the keystone combination has yet to be determined, McGrath will contribute to making Hoosac strong up the middle by playing center field. Senior Nick Neirat and freshman Jack Swistak will battle for the catching slot. Hoosac's coach said he would be "disappointed if we didn't get in" to the Division III tournament.
Coach: Tim Shepardson (First year)
Last year: 2-16.
Key returnees: Hunter Roosa, Jr. C; Bryce Whalen, Sr. C; Ryan Ruef Sr. P-OF; Patrick Finnegan, Sr. P; Sean McLaughlin, Sr. P-OF
Outlook: Tim Shepardson is back on the bench for the Wildcats. He had stepped away after 2011. "It's good to be around the kids again," he said. Shepardson will have a retooling job to do in Lee. But it starts out with a good group of veteran pitchers. Lefties Ryan Ruef and Patrick Finnegan, along with righties Sean McLaughlin and Bryce Whalen are experienced pitchers, and that gives the Wildcats a leg up on past seasons. Junior Hunter Roosa and Whalen will split time behind the dish. There are six seniors on the Lee 14-man roster, but only one junior, so the rest of the Wildcats are pretty young and in some cases, inexperienced.
Coach: Kevin Downer (13th year)
Last year: 17-7, Western Massachusetts Division IV champions, lost to Oxford in state semis.
Key returnees: Mike Downer, Sr. C-INF; Noah Hunter, Jr. P-C; Connor Hanson Sr. P-INF; Mike Hurley, Sr. P-SS
Outlook: Lenox coach Kevin Downer said what the Millionaires did last year, win a Western Mass. title, will never be forgotten. "The kids know they did something that hadn't been done in 45 years. They don't want to wait another 45 years" to repeat. Lenox has a leg up on possibly repeating, because the Millionaires have seven returning starters, including three pitchers. Senior right-handers Connor Hanson and Mike Hurley and junior righty Noah Hunter are 1-2-3 in the Lenox rotation. Hurley will play shortstop when he doesn't pitch, and will combine with senior Luke Murphy to form a solid keystone combination. The Millionaires are strong up the middle as Hunter and Mike Downer will split time behind the plate and senior Luke Bartini moves into center field.
Coach: Jesse Carpenter (15th year)
Last year: 7-12.
Key returnees:Cavan Brady, Jr. P-INF; Tim Robitaille, Sr. P-OF; Brendan Dempsey, Jr. CF.
Outlook: Veteran head coach Jesse Carpenter says he knows what his team has to do to get on the plus side of .500 and get back to the Western Mass. Division IV tournament. "We struggled the last two years with too many errors and baserunning mistakes." If the Eagles can cut those down dramatically, Carpenter said his team could contend in the South Division. Everything starts on the mound, where junior right-hander Cavan Brady will be the No. 1 guy. Sophomore right-hander Nick Vandebogart, a transfer from Florida, will also be in the rotation. When he's not pitching, Brady will be at shortstop. Brendan Dempsey will man center field. Patrick Silk and Nikos Cassivant will split time behind the plate.
Coach: Steve Messina (26th year)
Last year: 10-11, lost to Hoosac Valley in first round of Western Massachusetts D-III tournament
Key returnees: Brandon Condon, Sr. P-OF; Nick Rondeau, Sr. P-INF; Cal Messina, Soph. OF; Zach Condon, Sr. INF.
Outlook: Two years ago, a veteran group of Mounties got to the state Division III championship game. This year's team is younger, but the dean of Berkshire County coaches said that he's got an athletic team with a lot of speed. The Mounties look to be pretty strong up the middle with senior Zach Condon at second base and freshman Cole Wojtkowski at short. Wojtkowski is part of a pitching mix that includes senior lefty Brandon Condon, senior righty Nick Rondeau and sophomore righty Phil Guest. When he isn't pitching, Brandon Condon will play center field, flanked by Cal Messina in left and Guest in right.
Coach: Kris Ireland (First year)
Last year: 1-12
Key returnees: Mike Gingras, Sr. P-INF; Cam Winters, Jr. P; Robert Patterson, Jr. OF.
Outlook: St. Joseph has a storied baseball history. The Crusaders last won a Western Mass. title in 2007, advancing all the way to LeLacheur Park in Lowell to play in the state Division III championship game. This is St. Joe's final go-round in baseball and in education. Kris Ireland, who played at St. Joe, will coach the team in its final year. He wrote that his goal was to "positively impact every St. Joseph player through the game of baseball. What I mean by this is to teach them the fundamentals of the game while finding a way to maximum commitment and resurrect the 'St. Joe' pride in every player." Gingras and Hunter Fox are the only seniors on the St. Joe roster, and Gingras will anchor the rotation. Ireland will also be looking to quartets of freshmen and sophomores to help round out the St. Joe roster.
Coach: Pat Ryan (Sixth year)
Last year: 18-6, lost to Lenox in Western Mass. Division IV championship game
Key returnees: Robert Matte, Jr. P; Connor Guyette Sr. INF; Jacob Field, Jr. CF; Brad Tatro, Sr. RF.
Outlook: Coach Pat Ryan said that the Hornets will depend on pitching and defense to get rolling. The Hornets did lose some big bats, including three-year starter Charlie Bohl. Moving in behind the dish is junior Logan Tower. He'll be catching pitches from, among others, junior right-hander Robert Matte. Ryan said the rest of the rotation is up for grabs. Junior Jacob Field returns to start in center, and he will be flanked by senior Brad Tatro in right and sophomore Caleb Rondeau in left. The Tri-County League Hornets have six games against Berkshire County teams this year. They'll play Mount Everett, Wahconah and Lee two times each.
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