Thomas Jefferson baseball to gain experience on the fly

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Sunday, April 11, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Thomas Jefferson’s baseball roster is a bit misleading.

“We are a young team,” coach Tim Vickers said. “While there are nine seniors on the roster, only two of them had varsity experience (prior to this season). Our expectation is to simply get better every day.”

The coronavirus pandemic that shut down the 2020 spring season has had a dramatic influence on the TJ baseball program.

“The 2020 varsity team had huge expectations of making a deep playoff run,” Vickers said. “While that was disappointing in and of itself, the loss of the 2020 season may affect the underclassmen even more.

“We were looking for a lot of guys to play significant roles on the JV team as they continued their physical and mental preparations to play varsity baseball in 2021. These guys missed out on a very important year of development. I give them all credit for working their tails off to catch up as fast as possible within the confines the pandemic has allowed.”

Catcher Marco Gambino and outfielder Preston Zandier were the only senior starters back from 2019 at the start of the season.

“I started T-ball at the age of 5. I have been playing ever since,” Gambino said. “When I was younger, I started out at shortstop. By the time I was in middle school, I started catching and have really enjoyed it ever since. The past few years, I have dedicated all my time to baseball.

“I am excited for the rest of the season and to end my high school career playing with the same group of guys I started with. Many of us play multiple sports, and a lot of us have grown up together.”

Vickers is counting on solid performances this year from Gambino, the team captain, and Zandier, as well as from junior McClain Flinn, senior Mark Stover and sophomore Lance Vickers, his son.

Flinn has been a varsity starter since the first game of his freshman year. He can play any of the infield or outfield positions. Stover is a first baseman while Vickers is a catcher/third baseman. All three also are right-handed pitchers.

Filling out the pitching staff are senior outfielders Justin Dadig and Ryan Feth, senior third baseman Chase Lautner and freshman first baseman Brody Evans.

Others looking to contribute in 2021 include senior infielders Shultz Reinhart and Will O’Brien, junior infielders Jaxson Szarmach and Angelo Volomino and junior catcher/outfielder Brady Haberman.

Ryan Sluk, a junior outfielder/pitcher, and Jack Konick, a senior outfielder, are out for the year due to injuries.

The Jaguars’ starting lineup March 30 at Baldwin consisted of Zandier (CF), Reinhart (DH), Flinn (P), Gambino (C), Haberman (LF), O’Brien (SS), Vickers (3B), Evans (1B) and Dadig (RF). Volomino played second base.

“Shultz has an injury right now that has forced us to only DH him,” Tim Vickers said. “He would normally start at second base or shortstop.

“Lance will bounce between third base and pitching. He is a natural catcher, but Marco has earned that spot. Marco is a good team leader for us.

Thomas Jefferson is in a new section in 2021, joining Albert Gallatin, Bethel Park, Connellsville, Peters Township and Trinity in Section 4-5A.

“Our expectations are to come together as a team, learn each other’s playing style and build on each other’s strengths,” Gambino said.

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