April 3, 2019

Spearheaded by Quintet of Solid Seniors PDS Baseball Bringing Work Ethic, Versatility

NYCE AND SMOOTH: Princeton Day School baseball star Matt Nyce fires a pitch in a 2018 game. Senior standout Nyce figures to provide production with his arm and bat this spring for the Panthers. PDS, which opened its 2019 campaign by losing 10-4 to Pennington last Monday, plays at Monroe on April 3 before hosting Lawrenceville on April 4 and St. Joe’s Metuchen on April 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Princeton Day School baseball team doesn’t feature a dominant mound ace or a powerful slugger, it does boast a versatile group of seniors who can do just about anything on the diamond.

“I don’t think we have a guy this year who can change things with one swing or maybe go out on the mound and shut people down, but we have five seniors and they all have plenty of experience,” said PDS head coach Brian Dudeck, referring to his Class of 2019 which includes Matt Nyce, Brendan Bucceri, Tommy Sarsfield, Kevin Flahive, and Vin Gasparro.

“It is just a question of them putting everything together and getting out on the field and executing all of the stuff we have been practicing.”

Dudeck is looking for two of those seniors, Nyce and Bucceri, to lead the Panther pitching staff.

“Matt Nyce had pitched a lot and Brendan Bucceri did a lot for us last year,” said Dudeck.

“He had more of closer’s role in the beginning of the season and took on a little more responsibility as the season went on. All the seniors will throw, but Nyce and Bucceri will be the main two guys.”

PDS also features some young arms in freshman Jackson Bailey together with sophomores Shivam Singh and Bryce Powell and junior John Carroll.

“We have some kids that are going to do what they need to do,” added Dudeck.

“We are working on the philosophy of having kids throw strikes and letting our guys in the field do their job.”

The Panthers will need their seniors to do a good job with the bat. “In the last couple of years, Matt has done real well and Brendan has been good,” said Dudeck, who is also expecting Carroll and fellow junior Tom Bocian to contribute offensively.

“All of the seniors have had times where they have done good things. It is a question of getting everyone on the same page and being consistent.”

Around the diamond, PDS looks solid defensively.“We actually have our core infielders from last year,” said Dudeck, noting that Powell is at third base, Nyce is at shortstop, Carroll is at short or second, Sarsfield is at first and that freshmen Michael Carroll and Hunter Von Zelowitz are battling for a middle infield spot.

“Tom Bocian is at catcher and he is being pushed by freshman Alex Stillwell, who is going to be a good player. We have Bucceri at centerfield, Gasparro in left, and Flahive right. Singh has worked very hard and Chad Sprague, a junior, has worked very hard.”

In Dudeck’s view, a strong work ethic has become a staple of the program over the years.

“We have a nice core of kids who work out in the morning and do all of that kind of stuff,” said Dudeck, whose team went 9-11 in 2018.   

“One of the good things about our team is that we have a lot of mentorship and traditions that we are passed down from one group to the next. They normally have a real good work ethic, they do a lot of stuff on their own. They get together and go out and do things by themselves in the fall. They do what they need to do to get prepared. We don’t have a lot of numbers but we have some good kids.”

Dudeck is hoping that hard work will pay dividends this spring. “The key right now is for them to trust their ability and go out, relax, play and have fun and let everything else take care of itself,” said Dudeck, whose team opened its 2019 campaign by losing 10-4 to Pennington last Monday and will play at Monroe on April 3 before hosting Lawrenceville on April 4 and St. Joe’s Metuchen on April 8.

“With the numbers that we always have, we have pieces that we can move around. It is like playing a chess game.”