April 19, 2023

Dealing with Void Left by Graduation Losses, PHS Baseball Taking its Lumps, Starting 1-6

By Bill Alden

Having lost 14 seniors to graduation in 2022, the Princeton High baseball team was bound to take its lumps this spring.

Last Wednesday, PHS ran into a buzz saw as it fell 16-0 to an undefeated, battle-tested Cinnaminson squad.

Tiger head coach Dom Capuano acknowledged that the contest turned into a bit of a mismatch for his young team.

“I feel like this was the first game that we truly lost and just got beat,” said Capuano. “It is a lot easier to accept, they are a good team. They are an old team with 10 seniors. We threw strikes, they just hit the ball. It is what it is. We didn’t beat ourselves, so we take that away from this.”

While disappointed, Capuano believes that PHS can get into a groove.

“It is still early,” said Capuano, who got hits from Nick Akey, Jack Durbin, and Jon Tao in the loss to Cinnaminson.

“Overall, the good part about how the state tournament works is that it is your best 15 games. I think before the cut off, we will play something like 24, 25 games. It is your best 15 but we are getting to that point in time where we can’t keep throwing these games out.”

The Tigers, who fell 11-0 to Notre Dame last Monday to move to 1-6, will have plenty of chances to get going over the rest of April.

“We have to start somewhere, I think we have eight games in the next two weeks,” said Capuano, whose team plays at Allentown on April 21, at South Hunterdon on April 22, and at Princeton Day School on April 24 before hosting Trenton on April 25. “It is going to be a lot of baseball.”

In a 14-4 win over WW/P-North on April 6, PHS showed a lot of punch, highlighted by scoring 10 runs in the fifth inning against the Northern Knights.

“Any time you score 10 runs with two outs, it helps a little bit but it wasn’t a perfect game and we know that,” said Capuano. “We need to keep moving forward.”

The Tigers have been moving in the right direction where it comes to their batting.

“In two of our losses, we have outhit the other team,” said Capuano. “The top of the lineup has been hitting. [Mike] Prete has been hitting well. Durbin has been hitting well. Tao has been hitting well. [Alex] Winters has been doing his normal thing, he is leading off for us. The bottom of the lineup is starting to hit better.”

In Capuano’s view, the squad needs to be sharper on the mound and in the field.

“We are throwing strikes a little bit better this week, which is good. Walks have been a big issue,” said Capuano.

“We are still making too many errors for my liking. A lot of them are mental, a lot of them are just not thinking the game through.”

Looking ahead, Capuano believes that PHS will raise its game.

“We have to just keep working, that is how you do it,” said Capuano. “They are keeping their heads up. We are still learning how to be a team; a lot of people are learning how to play together. We will get there. Hopefully some leadership emerges, especially from the younger group. We will see.”