Armed and dangerous Pitching expected to carry baseball team
When you bring back virtually the same team from a year in which you capture Colonial League crown and make it to the District 11 2A championship, expectations are bound to be high.
That's the case for this year's Salisbury baseball team.
The Falcons, who went 14-2 in the Colonial League last season, lost only two senior starters - Ramon Deeb and Colby Kulig.
"We've got high expectations," said head coach Mike Pochron. "But we're also trying to keep things in perspective and understand you've got to play every game. Everybody is looking to knock you off. But we certainly are expecting to have a good year."
A big reason for the optimism is because of the returning pitching rotation that was remarkable last season. Seniors Nic Ampietro (6-1, 1.74 ERA) and Tyler Cooperman (7-0, 2.23 ERA), and junior Justin Aungst (7-1, 2.72 ERA) combined for just two losses last year and return to form arguably the most coveted set of arms in the league.
Each one pitched over 45 innings last year, and Pochron will look to spread the innings around similarly again. Junior Brad Vangeli and sophomore Evan Kulig figure to see time in the bullpen too.
"It's a great problem to have, to decide who you are going to throw every day," said Pochron. "It's a nice luxury to have.
"I expect us to hit the ball pretty well too, but certainly the pitching has got to be our number one strength."
While being amongst the league's best, there's no question opponents will have Salisbury on their radars and give them their best shot when the time comes.
And while expectations are once again high, Pochron remains concrete on taking a one-game-at-a-time approach.
"We had a talk with the team the other day," said Pochron. "The bullseye has been put on them and they've got to be ready because everybody is going to come at them with their best."
Vangeli hit .424 last season for the Falcons and Ampietro was just as good, batting a .411 for the season. Those two, as well as the rest of the Falcons, figure to be just as productive in the batter's box this season.
Prior to coming up short in last season's district title game - a 7-6 defeat to Pine Grove - the Falcons advanced to the PIAA tournament in 2011, when they reached the state final. The Falcons now have an opportunity at making it two times in three seasons.
"The first thing we're going to do is, we're trying to qualify for the districts," said Pochron. "After that, we want to be sitting in a situation where we're going to the league playoffs so you've got a shot.
"To move on you've got to be in the districts, and then you've got to win your district if you have any hopes of doing anything in the state tournament. That's where we hope we'll be, and that's what we'll be shooting for."
After a games against LVC opponents Bethlehem Catholic and Dieruff were rescheduled, the Falcons will shift into league play, beginning with Palisades. Salisbury is scheduled to host the Pirates on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m.