A central theme this spring for the Princeton Day School baseball team will be all hands on deck.
With a roster of just 14 players, the Panthers will get ample chances to do some multi-tasking.
“Everybody has to be versatile and play different positions,” said PDS head coach Ray O’Brien, who guided PDS to a 10-12 record last spring. “Everybody has to pitch. In numbers, we are a small team. We have a lot of young guys who are going to play.”
The team got to play a lot last week on its annual Florida trip. “The temperatures were great; we did have rain on and off,” said O’Brien. “We got in everything we scheduled. We played three scrimmages. We played an official game last Friday night against Centennial High from Champaign, Ill., we won 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh.”
O’Brien is counting on four veterans, junior tri-captains, Jake Alu, James Radvany, and Cole McManimon along with senior captain Ford Schneider, to set the tone.
“At the top of the team are the three juniors, Jake, J.P., and Cole,” said O’Brien, noting that Alu has already committed to play baseball at Boston College while Radvany is heading to the Villanova University baseball program.
“Ford is the senior captain; he brings that leadership and the intangibles. He has played baseball four years and he’s done a little bit of everything for us. He is helping with the younger guys; he plays the game the right way. We have him in center field this year and he will be doing some pitching.”
McManimon is the Panthers’ top pitcher. “Cole got six wins last year and he has grown some more; he is 6’6, 220-pounds,” said O’Brien of McManimon, who is currently sidelined with an injury. “He pitched very well in Florida. We are looking at him as our No. 1.”
O’Brien has several other arms at his disposal. “J.P. stepped up last year on the mound, he will be our No. 2 starter,” added O’Brien, whose team will look to keep on the winning track as it hosts Princeton High on April 2 and the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 before playing at Northern Burlington on April 7.
“Jake will be the closer. Ford will pitch. Freshmen Chase Fleming and Ryan Sparks are both left-handers and they will pitch. Sparks came in and pitched four solid innings in our opener; he was looking good in Florida. He will have a spot in the rotation. Junior Sean Flahive may see some innings.”
O’Brien believes that PDS should be good defensively with a lineup featuring freshman Paul Franzoni at catcher, Radvany at first base, sophomore Sam Guarino at second, Alu at shortstop, sophomore Dom Gasparro at third, Schneider in center field, and Sparks in right, with freshmen Zach Dudeck, sophomore Ryan Augustus, sophomore Kevin Hagan, and junior Davin Bialow in the outfield mix.
Alu figures to get the offense going at the top of the batting order along with Gasparro.
“Jake will be leading off, he led us in a lot of offensive categories last year,” said O’Brien. “Dom hit in the 9 hole last year and did well and we left him there. We have moved him up to No. 2.”
O’Brien is counting on Radvany to provide some punch. “J.P. is in the middle of the order, he hit OK last year after a great freshman year,” said O’Brien. “He is coming off a solid Florida trip. Ryan and Ford will be in the middle half.”
While the Panthers may lack quantity in terms of its roster, O’Brien believes that his squad possesses the quality to compete well this spring.
“If we are healthy and fresh, we are capable of beating anybody,” said O’Brien.
“When we are playing three or four games a week, our depth is going to be an issue. The season is going to be determined by how the younger guys mesh with the older guys.”