Trojans should be solid once again this season

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

MIGUEL JUAREZ  staff Old Bridge’s Charlie Krever slides safely into third base during a scrimmage against Bishop Ahr on Friday in Old Bridge.MIGUEL JUAREZ staff Old Bridge’s Charlie Krever slides safely into third base during a scrimmage against Bishop Ahr on Friday in Old Bridge.

EDISON — Last season, right-hander Kevin Mulvey led the Bishop Ahr High School baseball team to a 12-7 record and an appearance in the Parochial A State Semifinals.

The hard-throwing fireball finished the season 7-2 with an ERA of 1.50 and more than 100 strikeouts in 62 innings. Mulvey has since taken his 80 mph fastball to Villanova University, but this year’s Trojan team is looking to make another successful run.

Senior co-captains Alex Smolinski and Jimmy Penn will lead this year’s team when the Trojans take the diamond for the first time tomorrow, when Scotch Plains visits. The Trojans will host Hillsborough on Saturday before division play gets under way — when the team travels to South River on April 5.

Smolinski returns to action behind the plate and will hit in the lead-off spot once again.

"Alex handles the bat well, and we will look for him to reach base frequently," Bishop Ahr coach Scott Runkel said. "Jimmy will pitch and play second base for us. He has three excellent pitches: a curve, fastball and a deceptive change-up. He plays solid defense at second and he will bat second behind Alex."

Junior Justin Taylor will bring versatility to the Trojan lineup, as he will see action in right field and on the mound. Last season he led the team with a .360 average and went 4-1 on the hill. He will most likely bat third or fourth in the batting order.

"Justin is more of a power pitcher," Runkel said. "He’s developed a good curve and he is a solid hitter. He had a lot of extra base hits last year and he has good speed, too. Him and Jimmy were our top base-stealers last season."

Sophomore Eric Douglass returns to the starting lineup this season and will see action at both corners in the infield. Douglass batted .302 last season.

Center fielder Dan Potts played excellent defense as a sophomore last year and is expected to be more of an offensive contributor this year.

Senior Matt Perillo can play both right field and left field, and is expected to help the team by making some things happen at the bottom of the lineup.

A new edition to the varsity lineup is junior Dave Slater. Slater will play first base and is one of the team’s top three or four hurlers.

"Dave is what I would call a crafty left-hander," Runkel said.

"He has great command of his pitches and can change speeds really well. He is also a very effective contact hitter to have in the lineup."

Fellow junior Ryan Van Name is perhaps this year’s most versatile player. In addition to pitching, Van Name can play second, third, left field or right field.

"Ryan is a solid hitter and he will be in the lineup on a regular basis," Runkel said.

Another versatile asset is junior Chris Ciardiello. Ciardiello will play shortstop, but can fill a spot in the outfield or suit up behind the plate.

"Chris can play a lot of positions and he will probably do some pitching," Runkel said. "Versatility is something we preach in our program. We expect our players to play at least two positions. It gives us depth, which is necessary when changes have to be made."

Also expected to play major roles in the team’s quest for a GMC Blue Division title are juniors Joe Russell and Jim Tavormina, and senior Gary Yetsko. Yetsko is a solid hitter who will see action as the team’s designated hitter, and Russell and Tavormina will platoon in the infield.

"We have a chance to be good," Runkel said.

"Our main emphasis is on pitching and defense, and if we pitch well and defend, we can win every game. If we get off to a good start, and get guys to throw strikes and make contact at the plate, we should be a top contender."