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Pitchers, hitters look strong for Jeannette senior Legion team

| Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

As he discussed his roster just days before there start of the season, there was a sense of optimism in the voice of Jules Ponterio, manager of the Jeannette senior American Legion baseball team.

“This is probably the strongest pitching staff that we've had here in the four years that I've been here,” he said. “And we have some guys who can hit.”

Sounds like a winning formula for a team riding the momentum of a District 31 playoff appearance last year.

The strength of the team will be on the mound, said Ponterio. And the pitching staff is more than just talented, it's deep.

Ponterio called righties Rob Duffy and Nick Spangler his “workhorses” and will look to them as his top two starters.

Lefty Jake Laing gives Jeannette a southpaw who can start and be used in matchup situations out of the bullpen.

Right hander Joe Hoffner gives Ponterio another starting option, while Jonathan Shabe, Brendan Pratt and Dillon Sabo will be used primarily as relievers.

“It's nice having that many arms,” said Ponterio. “Having that depth is important when you play 20 games in 35 days.”

Behind the plate, Andrew Giesey and Tyler Peyman will split time. Peyman will also play first, sharing time with Duffy.

Adam Shorthouse is the starter at second base and Zack Altieri is the primary shortstop. Tyler Sciarrino and Hoffner will also see time in the middle infield.

When they're not pitching, Spangler and Duffy will man third base.

Hoffner starts in left, Sabo in center and Laing in right. Jared Burch, Shabe and Pratt are also in the outfield mix.

“Our guys have a lot of versatility, so we have the ability to mix-and-match,” said Ponterio.

The lineup should be another strength, added the manager.

“The top kids in our lineup, Altieri and Sabo, are two of the fastest kids in the league,” said Ponterio. “We'll be stealing a lot of bases.”

Those two speedsters are followed by Jeannette's thumpers, Dufy, Spangler and Hoffner.

“Those guys have power and can drive in runs,” said Ponterio.

While he is enthusiastic about the club's makeup, Ponterio is tempering that excitement.

“We all know, that just because things look good on paper … you have to go out and do it on the field,” he said.

The goal is more than merely improving on last year's 8-9 regular season.

“Our goals haven't changed,” he said. “Our goal is to win the championship.”

Ponterio pegged Latrobe, Unity, East Hempfield and West Hempfield as the teams to beat in District 31.

“There's no easy game on the schedule,” he added.

Jeannette was scheduled to open the campaign against Greensburg yesterday but results were not available as of press team.

The team will host Yough on Monday and visit Latrobe on May 27.

Brian Knavish is a contributing writer.

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