Mars baseball team searching for right mix
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The Mars baseball team has plenty of holes to fill — and not much time to do it.
However, the Planets helped themselves a bit again this season when they went on their annual southern trip — a staple for the program since 2003.
While snow — instead of chalk — covered the baselines in late March, Mars headed to South Carolina for some team bonding and quality work on an actual field. The Planets took part in a three-game tournament at The Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach.
Mars went 2-1 during its stay. The Planets opened the season with a 1-0 win over Laurel Highlands on March 21. The next day, they split a day-night doubleheader. They dropped a 7-5 decision to Whitehall, but rebounded for a 7-0 win over Moniteau.
“We played three games down there and had a nice practice. Our jayvee kids played three games, too, so it is like a mini spring training for us,” Mars coach Brian Hobaugh said. “The weather was good for the three days we were there. We got to play all the games and got a chance to look at some people. You don't often get to do that in high school baseball with a 20-game season.
“You don't have 20 games to figure out your lineup; the kids have to be ready to go. I told the kids, when they get an opportunity, they have to produce. Our evaluation of them is based on maybe one or two games.”
Opportunities are available since Mars graduated eight seniors from a year ago, including ace pitcher David Bednar and standout catcher Matt Eperesi.
“We have 10 seniors, but of those 10, only three or four of them had considerable playing time last year. A lot of these seniors were junior varsity level players last year, and they don't have that varsity-level experience yet,” Hobaugh said. “We're trying to figure out which of them are going to step up. Some of the kids have done it a little bit.”
Senior Nate Furl moves into the top pitching spot for the Planets. Last year, he went 5-1 with 53 strikeouts and 10 walks in 31 innings. He had a 1.81 ERA.
“Matt Parrish has been pitching really well. He is going to be our No. 2,” Hobaugh said. “We have some other kids I think will help us out, too.”
Mars searched for consistency in its nonsection games. Once it got back from its southern trip, the team dropped a 4-3 decision at Riverside and suffered a 10-3 setback at Blackhawk, the team that eliminated the Planets from last year's WPIAL playoffs. Mars had a 2-0 lead through three innings, but the Cougars rallied for the win.
“That game was a tale of two teams,” Hobaugh said. “For the first three innings, we were up 2-0 and looking good. Then, all of a sudden, we fell on our faces and didn't recover from a couple errors and the next thing you know it's 8-2. Blackhawk is a good team, but I was a little disappointed in the fact that we didn't finish strong. We'll be OK, though.”
The Planets, finally playing on their home field, rebounded for a 3-2 victory over Central Catholic on Wednesday. The team was scheduled to open WPIAL Section 5-AAA on Friday against Kittanning.
A year ago, Mars finished second in the section (8-2) to Hampton (10-0). The Talbots won both head-to-head meetings (8-2 and 4-1).
Hobaugh believes Hampton will be tough again this season.
“Hampton is strong every year,” Hobaugh said. “I think they're the team to beat in our section. Then you have Knoch and us. I think Valley will be better than they were last year. Highlands and Kittanning might be a step or two below. But, I know they're going to play us tough. I think the section is going to be competitive. I don't think there are going to be a whole lot of easy games for us.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Healthy, confident Steelers LB Shazier ready for full speed ahead
- Shaler man charged with homicide, abuse of corpse in McKeesport woman’s death
- Historic WWII-era landing ship tank docking at Heinz Field
- 2 injured in Strip District shooting
- ATI picketer injured at Harrison mill
- FDA’s revised serving sizes on nutrition labels might backfire as endorsement
- Pirates show depth in earning victory over Rockies; Polanco has big night
- Man gets probation for sex with teen girl in New Kensington
- New Orleans slow to heal 10 years after Hurricane Katrina
- Cops nab 4 in Monessen drug hangout
- Celebration marks 100 years for South Side Market House