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Focus shifts to 2014 season for Baldwin baseball

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The 2013 season has not gone as well as hoped for the Baldwin varsity baseball team.

Following a 10-4 loss to Fox Chapel in a nonsection game held earlier this week, the Highlanders were 5-11 overall and 4-6 in Section 3-AAAA.

Baldwin is a young team with just three seniors on the roster, and none in the starting lineup.

That's no excuse for the losses, said head coach Dan Caponi, though he has seen plenty of encouraging signs this year.

For one thing, the team lost four section games by one run. Additionally, many of the young players showed they are capable of being quality varsity performers.

“I'm proud of them,” Caponi said. “They never quit. They have a great work ethic and, as a coach, that's all you can ask.”

The team's three seniors are Uly Ator, Ryan O'Toole and Adam Ward. While they all were reserve players, they provided important leadership and depth, which will be missed next year.

“It's great to have good teammates,” Caponi said. “These three have been really good teammates. When they did get in there, they gave it their all.”

The fact that the entire starting lineup will return next season could mean a dramatic improvement. However, the team has to be careful not to simply assume that improvement will happen.

“The kids not having varsity experience, that caught them off-guard a little bit,” Caponi said. “They played really well together. With a little bit of experience, maybe we can win those close games instead of losing the close games.

“You hope the young guys will improve with experience, but they need to realize that it's not going to be everyone laying down next year because they were young this year. They have to work hard and improve between now and then. They can't go and pick up bats in the spring and all of a sudden be better.”

Among the youngsters that emerged this season were junior pitchers Nick Bernick and Alex Pantuso, who had earned run averages of 3.10 and 3.40, respectively.

“They were our two big pitchers,” Caponi said.

Several young players also emerged as legitimate offensive threats.

Sophomore outfielder Jordan Glitzen had a team-high .462 batting average.

Junior designated hitter Tony Martinez, freshman outfielder Chris Eisel and sophomore third baseman Dylan Finocchi all had big years, hitting .375, .354 and .323.

“I think we need to work on learning how to finish baseball games,” Caponi said. “We lost a couple of those close games late in the game. We need to learn how to finish.”

Brian Knavish is a freelance writer.

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