Young Bucs hope to win as they mature


Staff Writer

Coming off an 8-11 season, and with just four returning starters, the Red Bank Regional High School baseball team is a bit of an unknown.

At least in the eyes of seventh-year head coach Steve DePolo.

“We did pretty well in the preseason,” the coach said. “Not that it matters really, but we won four out of five games. We’re pretty young, so how quickly they mature will dictate how we do this year.

“Surprisingly, for such a young team, they’re pretty fundamentally sound, which is good.”

While the Bucs have some quality arms to take the ball, and what has looked like some strong defensive play early on, DePolo said that his squad’s ability to put runs on the board is what concerns him the most as RBR opened its season yesterday against rival Red Bank Catholic.

“We’ve got some good speed and we play good defense. Our pitching depth is not bad, too,” he said. “There’s no real studs, but the depth is good.

“Our inexperience and a lack of power on offense are the things we have to overcome. We’re going to scratch and claw, and do whatever we can to score runs this year. That’s the thing. What we get offensively will dictate how we do and where we go.”

Junior Tim Johnson is the top returning hitter for RBR, coming off a season where he hit .372, while also going 2-2 on the mound. Johnson, who plays center field when not on the hill, is joined by freshman Jake Kalish as the leaders of the Bucs’ pitching staff. Kalish will also see time in center field.

Senior Allen Lindsey and sophomore Cody O’Malley are the other two pitchers whom DePolo will look to to anchor the staff.

Senior Cole Gettis will be working with the Bucs pitching staff from behind the dish, while the rest of the lineup will likely change around, at least early on, while DePolo looks for a winning formula.

“We’ll rotate until we get some kind of constant hitting,” the coach said. “We’ll pretty much take [the season] as it comes. The way I see it, we should have the pitching to have us around in most games. We shouldn’t have anyone lighting us up.”

One thing that DePolo is pretty certain of is that sophomore third baseman Eric Raybon will be the table-setter on offense.

“Raybon will probably lead off for us,” he said. “He’s scrappy and fast.”

Junior second baseman Kyle Grant (a (.294 hitter last year) will bat second, followed by Johnson and senior shortstop Zack Honecker.

Mike Hershakowski will man first base most of the time, while senior Matt Gilson (left) and freshman Colin Lang (right) will take the corner outfield positions. Among the other players who are likely to see plenty of playing time are sophomore Robbie Grover and senior Ryan McGuire, both utility players.

While Red Bank is being picked to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack of the Shore’s Class A Central, DePolo is not ready to say how he thinks his team will measure up against the likes of Raritan, RBC, St. John Vianney, Rumson-Fair Haven, Holmdel and Manasquan.

“I don’t want to make any bold predictions, because I think we enter the season knowing we’re going to have to scratch and claw for everything we get,” he said. “I don’t think you should make any predictions when that’s your theory.

“We’re certainly not capable of blowing anyone’s doors off, and I don’t think anyone is going to do that to us,” he added. “We’re going to have to play a lot of close games, and if we can find a way to win some of them, we’ll do well.”

Next up for the Bucs is a match-up with RFH on Saturday.