Things seemed out of whack last Wednesday at Steinert High’s Rich Giallella Field as the Princeton High baseball team was clad in their home white uniforms and batted last.
There was a reasonable explanation for the apparent curve ball as the game was originally scheduled for PHS’s Valley Road field but with the diamond still under construction, it was moved to Steinert and the Little Tigers were designated as the home team.
For PHS, it marked its sixth road game in its first seven contests with just one home appearance at Smoyer Park.
While PHS head coach Dave Roberts is frustrated by the situation, he credits his players for rolling with the punches. “They handle it well, they are kids, they do a good job with that,” said Roberts.
“Steinert was nice enough to let us be the home team, most teams have been accommodating.”
Once the game started, however, the Spartans weren’t very accommodating, building a 5-0 lead after two innings on the way to a 10-0 victory.
In reflecting on the setback, Roberts acknowledged that his squad struggled at the plate and on the mound.
“That kid (John Mastrangelo) is a very good pitcher; he is definitely the best pitcher we have seen up to this point this year,” said Roberts, referring to the Spartan hurler.
“As a staff we are walking too many guys. It is starting to catch up with us. Our strikeout to walk ratio is about even and that’s not good. I think we walked the leadoff man five times today.”
With PHS off to a 3-6 start, Roberts is seeing some encouraging signs. “I like the things we are doing,” said Roberts, whose team brought a two-game winning streak into the Steinert contest. “I like the way we are playing.”
Roberts likes the work he is getting on the mound from sophomore Joaquin Hernandez-Burt.
“Joaquin has picked it up,” said Roberts, noting that Hernandez recently had a 3-0 shutout win over South Hunterdon. “He is out there and he is beating teams that he should beat. He is a young kid but he has nice stuff. We take him out of the equation and our strikeout to walk ratio is terrible.”
Sophomore infielders Hayden Reyes and Colin Taylor have been giving the Little Tigers some nice play.
“Hayden is going to be a good defensive player,” said Roberts. “From my perspective, he is one of the top three defensive shortstops in the county. Colin has been a welcome addition, he is hitting over .300 and he is playing a pretty solid third base.”
Two of the team’s veterans, senior second baseman Jeff Gleason and junior outfielder John Reid, have made a solid contribution this spring.
“Jeff is holding his own as a senior, he really wants to have a good year,” said Roberts.
“He is doing a great job for us. He picked up some of the relief pitching today. His hitting is doing well. Reid is smoking the ball, he has been on fire.”
Roberts is looking for his players to take a more fiery approach to the game as the spring unfolds.
“I think our overall energy needs to be more focused on baseball,” said Roberts, whose team fell 5-3 to WW/P-S on Monday to move to 3-6 and is slated to play at WW/P-N on April 23 before hosting Hightstown on April 25, Lakewood on April 26, and Nottingham on April 28.
“On Monday we were shutting a team out and you would have thought we were down by 10. You couldn’t tell what the heck was going on. It is just trying to be positive for our team.”