Pitching, defense solid for Decatur
(March 17, 2017) When asked what are the team’s strengths this year, Stephen Decatur baseball Coach Rich Ferro was quick to say pitching and defense as a number of veterans return to the mound and in the infield.
“It seems like we always return pitchers. We’re returning three varsity pitchers from last year and that’s good,” he said. “We’re returning half the infield so we should pitch and play defense pretty well.”
Junior Tristan McDonough will step on the mound again this year. He was not only named to the Bayside South Conference First Team for his performance during the 2016 season, but McDonough also received Pitcher of the Year honors.
“I’m really excited. We’ve got a good group of guys and our pitching staff, I think, is one of the best around here,” said McDonough, a member of the team for three years. “Me, [seniors] Will Sass, Jake Shockley [2016 Second Team Bayside South] and [junior] Ryan Duncan are our four main guys. That’s a good staff right there.”
Ferro said McDonough will also play in the middle infield, and when Sass and Duncan are not pitching they will be in the outfield.
“Be dominant on the mound and be efficient with my pitches, that’s how I’ll help lead the team [and] being a positive leader and leading my guys in the right direction,” McDonough said. “I know my guys are going to play good ‘D’ behind me so I just need to throw strikes.”
Senior Wyatt Church, who earned Bayside South Honorable Mention accolades in 2016, moves to the infield/second base after playing left field last year.
“I moved to middle infield and I feel like I can control things more,” said Church, a two-year team member. “I think I’ll be able to help the team by working the middle infield really [well], be very vocal and try and lead the guys.”
Both Sass and Church plan to play baseball for Division III colleges. Sass will be attending Salisbury University and Church is headed to McDaniel near Baltimore.
“I think we’re doing good. We’re really young this year,” Church said. “I hope to lead the young guys. Coming [from] JV, they don’t really know as much as the varsity guys. We’ll just try to teach them as much as we can.
“I think we’re going to do very well and [be] one of the best teams in the Bayside,” Church added.
Ferro, now in his 10th season leading the Decatur squad, will count on several new players to contribute, including juniors Stephen Bontempo (first base/corner infield), Mitchell Orf (outfield) and Zachary Pilarski (catcher).
“A lot of people thought our catcher situation was iffy – and it was,” McDonough said, noting that the team graduated four-year starting catcher Zach Adams. “I didn’t know who would play catcher, but Zach Pilarski is behind the plate and he’s doing very well right now.”
Of the 14 players on Ferro’s roster, seven competed last year when the team went 16-4. The Seahawks were 14-0 before recording their first loss. Decatur’s season ended in the 3A East Region sectional finals when the team lost 7-2 to Chesapeake.
While Ferro knows where some players will be on the field, there are still spots to be filled. He is trying to put together the best lineup from the five seniors, eight juniors and one sophomore that make up the squad.
“This year’s team is a little bit different than the past. We have seven returners to varsity so we’re trying to figure out who does what and the best fit. It’s going to take some time,” he said. “We’re progressing…They’ve known each other for years, they played Little League together, they’re all comfortable with each other, it’s just figuring out who is going to go where.”
Ferro said the No. 1 goal is to get better every day. Then, try to win as many games as possible, have a good seed for the state playoffs and make a run there.
“We just want to have good chemistry and I feel that will get us to where we want to go,” McDonough added.