Falcon baseball enters Augnst Era
Justin Aungst knows what it looks like to play in big games. He played in league and district playoff games, as well as Salisbury’s deep state playoff run in 2011 as a freshman. Not to mention, the former 2014 Salisbury graduate excelled at the collegiate level for Saint Joseph’s University.
He’s hoping this year’s group of Falcons can one day experience that level of competition, too.
Aungst is set to open his first year leading the Salisbury baseball team as the head coach after being an integral part to so many teams over his career as a player. He replaces head coach Mike Pochron, who spent 40 years at Salisbury, including the past 20 as head coach.
“Obviously we would like to make it to postseason play, but in general our goals are simple and that is just to get better every day, control what we can control and execute as team,” Aungst said. “We are using these first few weeks of practice and a few scrimmages to find our identity as a team, and we hope to follow that through the season.”
After going 6-14 last season, Aungst takes over a team that returns plenty of experience from 2019. There will be some key graduates to replace, including Josh Orlena, who batted .348, and Tommy Sylvester.
But the talent that returns is plentiful. Quinn Warmkessel leads the way as the Falcons’ top returning hitter. He batted .392 last spring with two home runs. And he’s also a reliable pitcher, posting the second-most innings pitched at 35 to go along with his 4.20 ERA and two saves.
Hayden Kuhns also returns after pitching 35.1 innings a season ago and figures to be a main piece to Aungst’s rotation. Rounding out the pitching staff is sophomore Tim Schware, who impressed the coaching staff in 2019. Jonel Resto will see time on the mound as well.
“Tim saw some action both on the mound and at first base, but this year we are hoping he can lead our pitching staff,” Aungst said. “Another guy we are counting on this year to make a big impact is Jonel Resto, both on the mound and at the plate for us.
“We are very experienced team. We have a team full of guys who have varsity experience, so I think that will help us through the season. As far as a particular area of our team, I think our depth as a pitching staff will be a strength for us this year.”
Ernesto Fermin played in all 20 games last season and hit .286 for Salisbury. He’ll return as well this spring. Matt Haas and Jorge Madera will also play key roles in the upcoming weeks.
While the experience is there for Aungst, he understands that has to translate onto the field if the Falcons want to be successful and reach their goals. The importance of timely hitting, which was stressed often in past years under Pochron, will once again hold true in Aungst’s first year at the helm.
“We return almost everyone from last year’s team, so we don’t have many newcomers, however, there are some guys who will hopefully step up this year and take the next step,” Aungst said.
“We are going to need guys to step up and get those timely hits and drive in runs. We have confidence in our guys that all the work they put in during the offseason and the beginning parts of this season will pay off at the plate throughout the year.”
The Falcons travel to Pen Argyl to open their Colonial League slate on Monday, March 23. Game time is set for 4 p.m.