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High School Baseball: Eden trying to turn corner

Matt Bialy is part of a small senior class, but Eden will try to improve with the addition of some quality youngsters. (Photo courtesy of David Eckhardt)
Eden accomplished a tremendous feat for its baseball program last year by placing two players on the All-Western New York First Team.

It’s not often that an around .500 team garners that type of recognition, but it only went to show the type of respect the Western New York baseball community had for the talent and supreme work ethic of Todd Gardner and Dan Karstedt (Mercyhurst). But the focus now is to elevate the next players in line as they try to better back-to-back 6-6 seasons in ECIC IV for the Raiders.

Eden head coach Eric Cooper believes this a turning point type season is his team’s effort to be more competitive with the likes of defending division champion Tonawanda, along with JFK and Alden, each of whom bring back much of their talent from last season. He hopes this group uses what it learned from the accomplishments of the two former Raiders’ players.

“We’re not happy with a 6-6 record, so we’d like to get it going in a better direction,” said Cooper, who oversaw a program that went about a decade controlling ECIC IV. “I think a lot of guys marveled at what Dan and Todd were able to do on the baseball field and at the plate and learned that it took extra work in the offseason to get there. A lot of the younger guys are now also putting in the extra work.”

The Raiders will be led by returning seniors Carson Gill and Matt Bialy and a pair of three-year varsity players in Brad Palmerton and David Baskerville. All four will see time on the mound and also be key cogs offensively, as well as contribute as position players.

Gill, a right-hander who also can play third base, and Bialy, a lefty who can play in the outfield, will be in the middle of the order.

Palmerton, a junior shortstop, will leadoff after hitting .379 last season. Baskerville, a sophomore who’s been starting since the eighth grade, will catch and can also play third base. He’ll hit third in the order after putting up a .453 average in 2012. Both were second team all-division players last season.

“Those guys will be our offensive leaders and defensive captains,” Cooper noted. “I’m looking for even more of that success from them this year.”

Junior left-handed hurler and first baseman Brian Losel should also contribute in the middle of the order after hitting over .300 last season. Senior second baseman Kevin Delia will also be an important part of the lineup as a contact hitter with good hands defensively.

Entering the starting lineup this season will be sophomore Jacob Schlegel, a middle of the order hitter who will catch some and can play a variety of positions, and freshman Declan Pierce, who will control the outfield in center, as well as bring speed, contact and power to the lineup. Already a varsity volleyball standout as well, Pierce will also see some time on the mound.

Also for Eden, senior Gerard Ruszczyk and juniors Jesse Vondell and Matt Henry will play some outfield and juniors Mitch Laing and James Rubek will see time at second and third, respectively, depending on who’s pitching.

Cooper will also break in at the varsity level freshman Michael Seggio, who will see time on the left side of the infield, and sophomore Brad Meyer, a first baseman.

The Raiders did not go down to Myrtle Beach during the spring break but did get in a non-league doubleheader against Gowanda. Despite a late-game two-run double from Pierce, a short-handed Eden fell 3-2 in Game One, before dropping the second contest, 4-0.

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