Ocean City Today

Veterans to lead Decatur baseball team this season

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Mar 22, 2018
Photo by: Lisa Capitelli “We have a bunch of guys who are returning that have been [in varsity game situations] before. A lot of the full-time playing is going to be with the veterans,” said Stephen Decatur Coach Rich Ferro. Pictured is senior Shane Cioccio at first base.

(March 23, 2018) Coach Rich Ferro will rely on his experienced and knowledgeable veterans to lead the Stephen Decatur baseball team this season.

“We have a bunch of guys who are returning that have been [in varsity game situations] before. A lot of the full-time playing is going to be with the veterans,” Ferro said. “We should play pretty good defense. We’ve got to make sure we swing the bats well, but it’s still early. “Usually pitching and defense win early and hitting gets better, at least you hope it does,” he added.

Ferro, now in his 11th season as head coach, has 23 players on his roster. About half competed in 2017, when the team went 11-9. The Seahawks’ season ended in the 3A East Region Section II semifinals.

Senior Tristan McDonough returns to the mound and will also play shortstop. In 2016 he was named Bayside South Pitcher of the Year. Last season, he received Player of the Year honors.

McDonough, who has committed to play for University of Miami, also took home Bayside First Team accolades.

“This group of guys, mostly seniors but a lot of the juniors too, have been playing together six, seven years now,” said McDonough, who has been a member of the team for four years. “We all have good chemistry together. I’m excited. We definitely shouldn’t lose a game if we play the way we know how to play.”

Also returning are junior Brett Berquist (outfield) and seniors Stephen Bontempo (first base), a 2017 Second Team honoree, Billy Wheatley (corner/pitcher), Zachary Pilarski (catcher), Shane Cioccio (corner) and Ryan Duncan (center field/pitcher).

“I feel that my experience in the varsity program learning from some of the guys who were older means I can use what they taught me to kind of help lead the younger guys,” Duncan said. “I think it’s a great team that we have this year. A lot of us have been friend for a long time. We’ve got team chemistry that I’ve never seen on a high school team before.”

Duncan, like McDonough, is also ready to get the season started.

“I think we really have a strong chance to do some big things this year and win a lot of games,” he said. “I’m just excited to see the amount of wins we put together this year.

“Bayside title and getting a regional title, I think that’s on everyone’s minds this year,” he continued. “A state title, it’s going to be tough, but if we really come together and get hot at the right time we can definitely make a run for it.”

To be successful, McDonough said the Seahawks needed to “stay as one and everyone buy into what we’re trying to do here.”

“Energy is the biggest thing,” he said. “We have a big group of guys this year. We’ve just got to have more energy than the other team and we’ll win.”

Ferro, who was the 2017 Bayside South Coach of the Year, said he has a “mix of everything” this season.

“Before we were defined by pitching and sometimes we had hitting, but this year it’s just a bunch of guys that have played baseball together for a long time, so they know each other and they’re friends,” he said. “I think their strength is their camaraderie.”

While the veterans will carry the team, Ferro does expect some new players to contribute.

“We picked up some guys that came out for the first time that offered something to us [and] a couple guys that were cut the year before came back, so we kept a larger roster this year. We will see where they fit in,” he said. “I think it’s a good bunch of guys that have veteran leadership that have pitched and played defense and hit, but also some new guys that run well and have some pop in the lineup. It’s just kind of a hodgepodge of things.”

Ferro said the goal is to improve daily.

“All I ask them to do is compete on a daily basis and hopefully we’re on the winning side,” he said.

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