Apollo-Ridge baseball team to start fresh
Saturday, March 9, 2019 | 11:07 PM
It’s been 12 short days since new Apollo-Ridge coach Jason Mamros was hired.
To say it was a late hire would be an understatement if Mamros was an outsider, but the 1987 Leechburg grad knew his new team long before they were Vikings.
“I’ve coached a lot of these kids since they were 7 (or) 8 years old through the Apollo Little League and junior league program,” said Mamros, who also is an assistant coach for the Saint Vincent women’s bowling team. “When I heard they were looking for a coach and had an opening and not having a lot of success (filling the position), I was able to make my work schedule adjustable to follow these kids up to the next level.”
Mamros takes over for Eric Andring, who coached Apollo-Ridge to a 12-17 record during his two-year tenure.
After school-board approval, Mamros called a team meeting and held tryouts.
“I did tryouts last week,” Mamros said. “We had 23 young men show up, which is a huge number for Apollo-Ridge. We’re keeping everybody at this point because we’re having varsity and junior varsity programs.”
Apollo-Ridge returns four players from a team that fell one game short of the postseason. The Vikings (7-7, 7-7) finished fifth, just behind Bishop Canevin (8-9, 8-6) in Section 3-AA.
“They had a couple of seniors that moved on, and I think this is more of a changing of the guard and they’re not thinking about last year,” Mamros said.
The Vikings are young, with Dylan Zelonka being the only senior on the roster. Fittingly, he hasn’t played organized baseball since Little League. The strength and future of the team is with the underclassmen.
“We’re extremely young but hungry,” Mamros said. “I’m very impressed with the knowledge and versatility of all 23 boys.”
Sophomore catcher Zach Hreha will return. There’s a battle at first base between junior Brady Reilly and freshman Brady Schrock. The Vikings are young up the middle with sophomore Anthony Blackgrove at second and junior Donny Biddle at shortstop. Biddle missed all of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury. Junior Braden Astolos will play third base.
“I feel comfortable in our fielding,” Mamros said. “The infielders we have are solid and have looked good through the first couple of practices.”
The experience on defense is in the outfield. Sophomore Brice Laurenti will start at right and junior Cameron Bush in center. Both players started last season. Sophomore Jake Fello, who has not played since middle school, will start in left field.
“All my outfielders, I can move in to the infield,” Mamros said. “In fact, I’d be surprised if those three don’t play a lot of infield, as well.”
The speed and athleticism that comes with youth will be counted on, especially up the middle.
“We’re going to be a pitch-to-contact team, so having outfielders out there to track the ball down is going to be very important,” Mamros said.
Mamros has a tandem of sophomore pitchers in Chad Brown and Zander Garrone. Mamros said he is open-minded about his rotation and is willing to give other players opportunities.
Section 3-2A has a new look this season, as well. Gone are Carlynton, Bishop Canevin, Northgate and Sto-Rox. The Vikings will compete in a six-team section with familiar opponents Brentwood, Riverview and Serra Catholic. Seton LaSalle moves down from Class 3A, and Jeannette bumps up from Class A to round out the section.
“We’re gonna play fast, play hard and play smart,” Mamros said.