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Springfield baseball season highlighted by win in sectionals

6/5/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield baseball head coach Scott Swan said the way the Spartans ended the season has him excited about the team’s future.

“We had a rough start, but they never quit,” he said. “They worked hard and definitely improved. They rallied as a team and had a never-say-die attitude. That helped us win five of our last seven games and led to us winning the sectional for the first time in the six years that I’ve been here.”

Overall, the team finished with a record of 10-12, including a 5-7 mark in the Portage Trail Conference’s Metro Division.

“We started out kind of slow,” Swan said. “But one of our goals was to be playing our best baseball at the end of the season, and I thought we definitely improved and kind of hit our stride. We got healthy and definitely played better in the last two weeks of the season.”

That late-season improvement was evident in the postseason, the coach said.

“We won the first round of the sectionals, beating Coventry 13-2 in five innings, and then in the sectional finals we beat Marlington 4-1,” he noted. “In the first round of the districts, we ended up losing to Alliance 5-4 in eight innings.”

Among the team leaders this season, Swan said, were senior outfielders Brendon Howiler and Michael Perkins.

“They did an excellent job out in the outfield — good arms, good gloves — with good senior leadership and a lot of hustle,” the coach said. “Offensively, Perkins hit .292, with 10 runs, 12 RBIs and eight stolen bases. He ended up making Honorable Mention All League. Brendon did a real nice job for us, too. He ended up with a .279 batting average with 10 runs and 14 RBIs. They will be our co-defensive players of the year this year.”

The other senior on this year’s team, Shane Robinson, was named Springfield’s “Outstanding Offensive Player of the Year.”

“He started out doing a little bit of catching and a little bit of outfield work, and he actually pitched one game and injured his arm,” the coach said. “So for the last two-thirds of the season, he played primarily first base and designated hitter. He did a real nice job at the plate for us. He ended up batting .292, and he led our team in hits. He scored 15 runs, with 12 RBIs and two stolen bases.”

With everyone but those three seniors due back next season, Swan said he is “excited” to see how his team develops.

“We have seven everyday players coming back and all four of our top pitchers,” he said. “We’re excited to have all of that experience returning and hopefully we can improve during the offseason. Hopefully, our juniors will have even better senior years. It’s a real nice group of ballplayers and we’re excited to have them back.”

As the season progressed, Swan said, the team’s offense got “better and better.”

“In the second half of the season, we started to get a little bit more regularity in our play,” he said. “Early in the season, there were so many rain-outs and cancellations that we were only playing one or two games a week and rarely did we play two days in a row. It was hard to get in a rhythm, but once we got to play more regularly, we definitely improved.”

According to Swan, Springfield’s pitching was “very solid” this season.

“Collin Floyd is our top pitcher, but he was limited with injuries. He ended up with a 2-2 record. He only got to pitch 26 and one-third innings, but in that time he had a 1.59 ERA and he struck out 38 batters. He won our sectional final, pitching a complete game three-hitter and he had 15 strikeouts,” the coach said. Our No. 2 pitcher was a bit of a surprise. It was sophomore left-hander Tristan Phillips, who was in his first year on the team. When Collin went down with an injury, Tristan stepped up and pitched 37 innings. He struck out 44 batters and only walked seven, which is pretty incredible. He had a 1.70 ERA and a 3-2 record with two saves.”

In addition, Swan said, the team’s No. 3 pitcher, junior Racco DiLauro, pitched a no-hitter against Kenmore High School near the end of the season.

Another key player, the coach noted, was freshman outfielder Cole Meyers.

“He did an excellent job out in centerfield for us,” Swan said. “He ended up having a .300 batting average and was second on the team in hits. He had 13 runs and 10 RBIs out of the leadoff role, with five stolen bases. So he had an excellent freshman year and he definitely has a bright future.”

In all, Swan said, the progress made by the team’s returning players, combined with the successful postseason run, should lead to a strong 2015 season.

“It was exciting to get to play in the districts down at Thurmon Munson Stadium,” he stated. “I think the seven returning juniors — getting to play on that type of a stage in a big game in front of a big crowd — will make them hungry to work even harder to advance even further next year.”

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