Springdale baseball to lean on young lineup during rebuilding season
By: Jerin Steele
Tuesday, March 19, 2019 | 8:38 PM
After each practice, Springdale baseball coach Brett Burger tells his team to “be better tomorrow than they were today.”
Some players like Dynamos first baseman Garrett Apuzzo are taking a liking to that message.
“That’s a good way to look at things,” Apuzzo said. “I mean if you focus on the past you’re never going to get anywhere. You just have to stay focused on the future.”
The immediate future for the Dynamos is a young roster with only a handful of seniors and eight freshmen, but the long-term goal for Burger is to turn the baseball team at his alma mater into a consistent winner.
The Dynamos finished 1-12 last year, but Burger likes the makeup of his group and thinks they can take some steps forward as he enters Year 2 with the program.
“I don’t think it’s a secret around here, the section or the WPIAL that we’re rebuilding,” Burger said. “You could see that with our record last year, but I think we’ll turn the corner this year and maybe surprise some people. We just want to be ready to take the field every day, and this is a good group. They work hard, and they’re ready to play. There’s a different dynamic with this year’s team than last, and I think that will help us.”
Springdale has a trio of seniors: Isaac Kern, Josh Jones and Jake Garmong. Kern will front the pitching staff and play shortstop when he’s not on the mound. Garmong will be in left field and could see some innings. Jones also will pitch and play center field.
Garmong didn’t play baseball until last year. He decided to give it a try when he saw Burger was taking over the team and worked his way into the lineup by the third game. He stayed there the rest of the season.
With it being his final season, Garmong wants to help lay the foundation for future years and play his part in helping turn the program around.
“The biggest thing us seniors have talked about is making this year our year and going out with pride,” Garmong said. “We don’t want the outcome we had last year.”
Sophomores Joe Dausch and Justin Botinovich will be pitchers for the Dynamos and Botinovich will play second base.
The large freshman group features Brandon John, who will be the catcher, Legend Ausk, who will pitch and play infield, and Andrew Harmon.
Burger will lean on his seniors and Apuzzo, a junior, to help him mentor the underclassmen.
“There’s going to be a reliance on them to help the coaching staff lead and setting a good example for these younger guys,” Burger said. “The first year anywhere is tough. There’s a process when you take over for another coach, because there’s a roster there that’s not used to you and that had done things differently in the past. I had a huge group of seniors last year and now they’re gone. The guys that are here played for me a year and they know what’s expected.”
Springdale plays in Section 3-A with Vincentian Academy, Leechburg, St. Joseph, Clairton and newcomer Greensburg Central Catholic.
Vincentian won the WPIAL and PIAA Class A titles last year, but lost star shortstop Kyler Fedko, who’s now at Connecticut.
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer