June 7, 2017

PHS Baseball Posts 3 Wins in Final Week But Plagued by Inconsistency This Spring

SMOOTH TRANSFER: Princeton High baseball player Jaedyn Paria takes a swing in recent action. Junior transfer Paria emerged as a catalyst this spring for PHS, playing center field and providing production at the top of the batting order. The Little Tigers finished with a final record of 6-17-1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After winning three games in the first five weeks of the season, the Princeton High baseball team posted three victories in the last eight days of the season.

For PHS head coach Dave Roberts, the late surge was an encouraging sign.

“It was good to get those wins and build on it for next year,” said Roberts, whose team defeated WW/P-South 7-6 on May 10 and 12-2 on May 17 and also topped South Hunterdon 12-7 on May 11.

But with the Little Tigers also losing three games in that final stretch to finish with a final record of 6-17-1, Roberts acknowledged that his squad was plagued by uneven play this spring.

“One day we would pitch and wouldn’t hit, the next day we would play defense and the next day we wouldn’t do any of the above,” said Roberts. “It was just inconsistency up and down.”

PHS got a consistent effort from seniors Dan Gross and Teddy Marttila in their final campaigns.

“Dan was a great hitter for us; he played a lot his junior year and then this year; he did great for us,” said Roberts of outfielder Gross, who hit .288 this spring with four doubles and six RBIs.

“Marttila came to us last year; he played good defense for us both years so their contributions were very good.”

Junior outfielder Paul Cooke produced another very good year, hitting a team-high .438 with a homer, a triple, five doubles, and 18 RBIs.

“He led the way for the third year in a row, he has 90 hits through three years,” said Roberts.

“He is just tremendous.  He made the Carpenter Cup this year. Offensively, he understands what he is doing, he has a plan, and he executes the plan. He ropes the ball all over the place and then when he gets on, he is a great baserunner. He stole 16 bases this year.”

The trio of junior transfer outfielder Jaedyn Paria, junior catcher Alec Silverman, and sophomore outfielder Eli Okoye executed well throughout the spring.

“Paria and Silverman had wonderful years,” said Roberts of Paria, who hit .347 with 19 runs, and Silverman, a .361 hitter this spring with eight doubles and seven RBIs.

“Jaedyn was a great addition and Alec’s improvement from last year to this year was amazing, I think he raised his average 140 or 150 points. Eli Okoye, a sophomore came on strong for us in the outfield. He ended up with almost 40 at-bats and hit .341.”

As for the team’s mound corps, the Little Tigers will return freshman Teddy Durbin, junior Mike Ramirez, and sophomore Ben Amon.

“Durbin was our most consistent guy this year,” said Roberts.

“We would like Mike to go back to last year. We look for Ben Amon to step up a little more.”

With so many young players seeing action this spring for PHS, there were some growing pains.

“They have to learn to not give away things for free, making the routine play when it counts,” said Roberts.

“We were awesome when the pressure was off but when the pressure was on, I can only count a handful of times when we made the play.”

In Roberts’ view, the Little Tigers should be better able to to deal with pressure next year as the core of the team returns intact.

“I think that is great, we hope they grow into their positions,” said Roberts.