Salisbury baseball returns eight starters
Salisbury’s string of seven straight postseason appearances came to an unexpected end last season. Under head coach Mike Pochron, who enters his 18th season leading the program, Salisbury came up short in qualifying for either the Colonial League or District 11 tournaments.
It certainly left a sour taste in the mouth for everyone who is part of the Salisbury program, which finished with an 8-12 record. But with much of last year’s squad returning, the Falcons, who are traditionally one of the top teams in the league and district, are hungry to make that season look like an aberration.
“It was very disappointing last year to not qualify for the league or district playoffs,” Pochron said. “The worst part of the season is collecting the uniforms at the end of the season, and we collected everything much too early last year.”
The team that takes the field this spring won’t look much different than the one Salisbury fans saw a season ago. The Falcons graduated six seniors, but only one of the graduates started on a regular basis.
That means Pochron welcomes back eight starters that felt the pain of coming up short of their goals last year. You could say this group has a chip on its shoulders with the regular season set to open this week.
“We are returning eight starters from last year,” Pochron said. “Most of these players have been playing varsity since they were sophomores. That’s why I am saying experience is our big plus. These players have been around and know what it takes to win. I’m expecting big things from them this year.”
A senior-laden class figures to be a strong point in getting Salisbury back to the postseason. Leading hitter Ryan Miller (.346 average, seven RBIs, six runs in 2017) returns, as does .300-hitter junior Colten Hagadus (.312 average, 15 runs, eight RBIs).
Seniors Joey Galantini (.259 average, nine runs, eight RBIs), Taylor Linn, Peter DuBois, Lucas Irwin, Cole Warmkessel, Andrew Sukanick, Mark Wilson and Alex Glenn all return with revenge on their minds.
If the Falcons are to reach the coveted postseason once again, however, they’ll have to have a better year defensively and produce more runs.
“Our defense needs to improve if last year’s record is to improve,” Pochron said.
Sukanick figures to be the Falcons’ ace again after going 2-3 with 31 strikeouts a season ago and a 3.03 ERA. He’ll have plenty of help out of the bullpen as well, with Linn (2-2, 1.99 ERA, 25 strikeouts) and Warmkessel (3.77 ERA, 17 strikeouts) also returning.
Freshman Quinn Warmkessel could also provide some depth in the pitching department, while junior Brett Minnick, junior Lucas Reichard and senior Jack Repynick are newcomers that Pochron anticipates could play key roles in 2018.
Salisbury opens their league slate at home against Bangor next Monday. Game time is slated for 4 p.m. It has nonleague games slated for Friday (vs. Allen) and Saturday (vs. Dieruff).