Springdale baseball searching for arms after 2-win season

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020 | 6:19 PM


Springdale players, led by third-year coach Brett Burger, are looking to shift the current trends of the Dynamo baseball team.

Winning is far from a custom for the program, which is coming off a 2-13 season, finishing 1-9 in WPIAL Section 3-A. The team has not reached the five-win mark in the past three seasons, last making the playoffs in 2016 with an 8-12 record and a first-round exit.

The Dynamos’ most recent winning season came in 2014 with a 9-8 record and a WPIAL playoff appearance. Burger hopes a better player turnout as well as a competitive drive will bolster the team’s chances of winning, even as the spring sports season is put hold for at least two weeks amid the covid-19 crisis.

“It’s been a tough couple years, but we had (new players) show up to winter workouts and come to practice when we started so I’m encouraged by that,” Burger said. “The kids have worked hard and showed that they are ready to compete and battle.

“When it comes to wins and losses, we think we can compete with Clairton, Leechburg and Greensburg Central Catholic (among others). We kind of see ourselves as a middle-of-the-pack team, so that’s where we are at right now.”

Among the squad’s new faces are junior Demitri Fritch and sophomore Logan Dexter. Both were part of the Springdale’s boys basketball team, which went 20-4 with a section title. Burger is looking for their success to rub off on the baseball team.

The Dynamos received offensive production last season from underclassmen, including catcher Brandon John, who as a freshman led the team in batting average (.524), hits (22), RBIs (16) and runs scored (14).

They lost last season’s third- and fourth-best hitters, Isaac Kern and Josh Jones, to graduation but return first baseman Garret Apuzzo, who hit .367 as a junior, second best on the team.

Fellow junior Justin Botinovch is primed to be a factor at the plate and on the mound.

Sophomores Chris Savko and Colin O’Day also are expected to account for more production at the plate as Savko finished with 10 hits and three RBIs in 15 games and O’Day tallied six hits and one RBI in 11 games.

“Botinovch is probably going to anchor in our rotation,” Burger said. “He looked really good in our scrimmage against Apollo-Ridge on March 9, so we are expecting big things from him to lead the way for our pitching staff.

“Brandon John is a returning starter, leading the team in hitting as a catcher last year. The sky’s the limit for him.”

Springdale will also be looking for a spark in the pitching department as every Dynamo who made at least five appearances recorded an ERA of 5.80 or higher. They also lost their top two starters to graduation, Kern (1-4, 5.80 ERA) and Jake Garmong (1-3, 7.22).

The best returning arm based off last season’s statistics is Botinovch with an 0-4 record and 9.24 ERA in four starts. Joe Dausch and Legend Ausk will also return as pitchers.

The team allowed 10 runs or more in 12 games last season.

“We definitely need to throw more strikes,” Burger said. “We need to play better defense. Offensively, we were OK, but with high pitch totals, high walk numbers and poor defense it doesn’t matter how many runs we score.”

Robert Scott III is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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