SENIORS HIT THE GROUND RUNNING — Matthew Soos is one of 11 seniors for what should be an improved Frontier team this year. Photos courtesy of Ron Larson.
HAMBURG — Among the 11 seniors on this year’s Frontier baseball team is a righty-lefty starting pitching tandem that should be as good as any in Western New York. Throw in a junior hurler as the No. 3 and the Falcons front-line pitching looks as good as any other team’s, on paper.
But paper does not account for injuries. And, going into the opening week of the season, Frontier is without senior right-hander Christian Young and lefties Jim Gleason and junior Jay Bergmann.
ONE-TWO PUNCH — Christian Young gives Frontier formidable front-line pitching.
Young was injured, last summer; Gleason hurt his shoulder, during the hockey postseason, and Bergmann, who is coming off a winning basketball season, has been sick and out of school. All three are expected to return at some point this season, but head coach Mike Morlock said he will not rush any of them back.
“Going in with all three, I think we have as a good of a pitching staff as anyone,” Morlock said. “They’re working at getting back. We’re taking baby steps to get them healthy. At some point, they’ll all be back throwing.”
A senior-laden group could help compensate for the early-season injuries. Many of them were playing last season, when Frontier bounced back from the regular season (6 – 11) with a playoff win and then nearly upset No. 2-seed Lockport, before falling 4 – 3 in 10 extra innings.
“When you’re senior-loaded, you expect to do fairly well,” Morlock said. “Nothing is new to them; most of them have been with the program since the seventh grade. We’ll see how far we can get.”
Leading the way will be Tom Stoklosa, an All-Erie County Interscholastic Conference I Second Team selection, who shifts from shortstop to third base and will hit third in the order, and Michael O’Rourke, who moves from second to short and is expected to lead off in the batting order.
Also in a senior-laden infield will be Anthony Feeney and Joe Yetman, splitting time between first base, pitching and designated hitter. Senior Mike Evancho and junior Nate Sawicki are in a battle for playing time at second base. Evancho will also throw on the mound, as Frontier pitches by committee until its top three hurlers are back in the fold.
Three seniors will see time at the catcher’s mound. Alex Colunio, who can also pitch, will lead the way behind the plate. Ryan Niedermeir will also help at catcher, along with Jim Smith, who played some first base and DH last year.
When healthy, Gleason, an all-division second team all-star, will be a mainstay in center field, taking over for Evan Johnston (NCCC), while seniors Matt Soos and Zac Balzer will split time in right field; junior Matt Monaco may have won himself a spot in the outfield.
Adding depth in the outfield are juniors Dan Hiam, Brendan Solinski and Paul Brinkel, who comes off helping the football team advance to the program’s first sectional title game since 1984. Brinkel looked to have suffered a major knee injury in the title game, but it turned out to be not as serious as first thought.
Also for Frontier, Mike Hughes will add depth to the pitching staff as a junior left-hander, junior Matt Bailey will do the same as a middle infielder and classmate Zac O’Connor can play first and DH.
Frontier is slated to get the ECIC I season underway, playing at West Seneca West on April 4.