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Geibel baseball team returns to basics

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Geibel's Jon Nace takes a cut during a recent indoor practice session. The Gators are working extensively on fundamentals in prepation for the 2013 season. Evan R. Sanders/Daily Courier

The Geibel baseball team opens the season with an exhibition game at South Allegheny on March 22.

Top high school sports
Saturday, March 9, 2013, 1:21 a.m.

There are a lot of changes surrounding the Geibel baseball team as it prepares for the upcoming season. The Gators will be under the direction of a new coach and will play in a new section. Plus, eight players, more than half of last season's roster, have graduated.

But in baseball, one thing that never seems to change is a desire for teams to master the fundamentals. That's what new coach Pete Nace hopes the Gators will accomplish this season.

“We're going to do a lot of basic work,” said Nace, who took over after Jeff McWilliams resigned following last season. “We have to work on the basics. I've got kids who haven't played since they were in little league.”

Of the 15 players that make up this year's team, only seniors Jake Ciaccia and Jon Nace, and sophomores Mario Ruggieri, Jarek Allen and Matt Mammarella are returning players.

Fortunately, much of Geibel's experience should be centered on the mound. Mammarella, Ciaccia and Allen are expected to be the top arms in the rotation.

“We haven't had them throw very hard yet,” Pete Nace said. “Being that it's early in the season, I don't want them to throw out their arms. But these three are solid.”

Ruggieri and freshman Jake Nace are expected to see time behind the plate. Mammarella and Ciaccia could also do some catching. As for the rest of the lineup, most positions are up for grabs.

“We'll be doing a lot of teaching of fundamentals and everybody will fill in where we need them to,” Pete Nace said. “(Assistant coach) Mark Mammarella does a good job of looking at who has strengths at different positions.”

Although the team is largely inexperienced (the 15-man roster includes eight sophomores and four freshmen), there is some talent to work with, according to the new coach.

“From what I've seen so far, I've been pleasantly surprised,” Pete Nace said. “All these kids seem to have some talent and all of the kids have some ability.”

Last year, the Gators went 6-12, including a 4-8 mark in Section 1-A. This year, Geibel shifts to Section 2-A and will compete against Bishop Canevin, Clairton, Frazier, Monessen and Serra. As for how competitive the Gators will be, Pete Nace isn't about to make any bold predictions.

“Mark (Mammarella) and I have talked about it, and one of our goals is to get them back into the basics and get them back into a team atmosphere,” he said. “Everybody wants to make the playoffs, but we'll let the wins and losses take care of itself.”

As one of the few returning players, Matt Mammarella is excited for the upcoming season.

“We have a new coach and I feel like he will instruct us in the basics,” he said. “Just listening to the coaches is a big thing because that's what they are here for. We will give it our all each game.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at

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