April 20, 2016

With Kirczow Taking Care of Business on Mound, PDS Baseball Rebounds Nicely From Loss to Hun

#8 pulls in a pop fly ball

ON THE FLY: Princeton Day School baseball player Russell Kirczow gathers in a fly ball in recent action. Last Friday, junior Kirczow pitched a two-hit shutout as PDS defeated Willingboro 13-0 in five innings. The Panthers, who topped the Hill School (Pa.) 9-1 last Monday to move to 5-1, host Gill St. Bernard’s on April 21, play at Blair Academy on April 25, and host Pennington on April 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Russell Kirczow was looking to keep things simple as he took the mound for the Princeton Day School baseball team against visiting Willingboro High last Friday.

“The coaches said to go out there throwing strikes and go right after them,” said Kirczow.

Junior Kirczow followed instructions, striking out the side in the first inning to set the tone as PDS went on to a 13-0 win in five innings.

“They were missing today,” said Kirczow, who gave up two third inning singles in earning the shutout. “The control and fastball were good, I was changing the eye level.”

Having pitched well down the stretch in 2015, highlighted by some clutch work in the state Prep B tournament, Kirczow is looking to build on that progress.

“I definitely throw a lot harder this year than I did last year,” said Kirczow. “It is not the same control, I am still trying to find it. I have just got to look at my mechanics and go over some things.”

The Panthers appear to have found a solid starting rotation with Kirczow and his classmates, Chase Fleming and Ryan Sparks.

“We have three pretty good starters with Chase, Ryan, and including me,” said Kirczow. “We think we have a chance with anyone who starts.”

In addition to his work on the mound, Kirczow has been having a good spring with the bat.

“I worked with B.J. Dudeck (a former PDS star and member of the VMI baseball program who is serving as an assistant coach this spring as he recovers from shoulder surgery) all summer and the start of this year and he has really helped me out, I owe a lot to him,” said Kirczow, who plays in the outfield when he is not on the mound.

“I am not dropping my back shoulder, I am keeping my eye level constant throughout the whole swing. I have a rather long intro to my swing and I am trying to make it more compact.”

Longtime PDS assistant coach Brian Dudeck (B.J.’s father) liked Kirczow’s work on the mound against

“I think what he needed to do was to come in and go right at them and throw strikes today,” said Dudeck, who guided the team on Friday because head coach Ray O’Brien was away on business.

“That is what he did so he got that done. I am proud of him for throwing strikes because the other day (a 5-1 loss to Hun on April 13), we got into trouble because we didn’t throw strikes.”

Dudeck was proud of how the Panthers took care of business offensively, taking the extra base and coming up with some timely hits as they faced a Willingboro pitcher struggling with his control.

“We didn’t hit well the other day against Hun so I was happy with the way we made a little bit of an adjustment and put the ball in play,” said Dudeck, as junior Paul Franzoni went 2-for-2 with two RBIs to lead the PDS offense with senior Dom Gasparro added a run scoring single.

With the Panthers off to a 5-1 start after topping Hill School 9-1 last Monday, Dudeck is happy with the way the team has come together.

“The thing that we have liked all along about this team is right now we have guys that play together, that like each other,” said Dudeck.

“It is a very good team. We don’t have three kids that are going to play Division I baseball like last year but everybody is going to contribute and everybody will take turns. One day, it will be one guy and one day it will be another guy. I think in a lot of ways it is good.”

In Kirczow’s view, the team’s balance is an asset going forward this spring.

“We have got a long way to go but we are getting there,” said Kirczow. “There is no one leader, last year we had a few studs. This year, one through nine can contribute night in, night out.”