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Baseball Team Opens Strong With Two Wins Against Perry, Drops Two to Orange

Senior+pitcher+Aden+Stern+swings+for+a+hit+against+Orange+on+April+18.+Photo+by+Livi+Eppell.
Senior pitcher Aden Stern swings for a hit against Orange on April 18. Photo by Livi Eppell.

Senior pitcher Aden Stern swings for a hit against Orange on April 18. Photo by Livi Eppell.

Senior pitcher Aden Stern swings for a hit against Orange on April 18. Photo by Livi Eppell.

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Beachwood’s 2016-17 athletic year has been historic. With an All-Ohio quarterback, a state champion cross country athlete and the number one female indoor track team in the state, Bison athletes are making themselves known.

The baseball team is hoping to etch their names in Bison history as well this year. Led by fourth year varsity head coach Todd Butler, the team is looking to improve upon their 14-11 record from last year’s season. And, with nine returning letterwinners who have been playing together for years, it looks like a possibility.

“Our team chemistry is the best it has ever been. Our core group of guys have been [playing] together since fourth grade,” said senior catcher Aaron Siegel, a three-year letterwinner himself.

This year’s team includes eight seniors, the most in over ten seasons. Leadership is not lacking.

“This is a special group,” Butler said. “These seniors were freshmen when I took over the team as head coach, and these guys mean the world to me.  The team is in a great position to do well with these guys leading the charge.”

This senior-heavy roster has helped make up for the losses of shortstop Charles Colson and pitcher Shawn May, vocal leaders who graduated last year. This role has been taken over by senior pitcher Aden Stern along with the rest of his graduating class.

And the team clearly excels in key areas.

“Our biggest strength is our defense. It’s very solid all the way through,” Stern said.

During the team’s home opener (an 8-0 win against Perry on April 13), this strength was apparent. Led by freshman second baseman Will Friedrich, Bison defense helped Stern hold Perry to only one hit.

Friedrich was initially moved from the junior varsity roster to serve as a designated hitter, but, after seeing his defensive production, the coaching staff moved him to the starting second basemen slot.

When we’re more energetic in the dugout, we’re always playing better. Whenever you get a hit that sparks some energy, the team tends to play better.”

— Junior centerfielder Ben Connor

Offensively, a two-run double in the bottom of the second inning by  junior centerfielder Ben Connor sparked a scoring spree that the rest of the team built on. The entire batting order reached base during the game en route to the blowout victory.

Team members attributed the win to their chemistry and energy, which only increased as their lead increased.

“When we’re more energetic in the dugout, we’re always playing better. Whenever you get a hit that sparks some energy, the team tends to play better,” said Connor post-game.

This chemistry can be further traced back to the team’s early games. They spent spring break in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, playing baseball and spending time together. Although they went winless against tough teams from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Illinois, the trip helped the team bond.

“Even though we went 0-3, it was still a great team trip because we all got to hang out and have some fun with each other,” Siegal said.

More specifically, it enabled them to be a more accepting and inclusive team. Friedrich, who was on the junior varsity roster at the time of the trip and was not invited to Myrtle Beach, feels as if he’s been immediately included onto the roster.

“Everyone has supported me the whole way through. Whenever I make an error, they always tell me to pick it up and that I’ll get the next one. Everyone has been so supportive,” said Friedrich.

Stern expressed respect for his teammates’ work ethic.

“I’m really excited to see how [junior shortstop] Chris Reilly hits this year. I worked out with him a little bit during the off-season and I know he has been working extremely hard, so I’m excited.” Stern said.

The team is looking for productive hitting from more than just Reilly. As effective as the defense has been, the team has been unable to hit in the clutch. While experiencing some quality pitching in Myrtle, the team was only able to put up five runs in three games, which was the main reason for their lack of success.

Ultimately, this Bison team looks capable of heating up in conference play if their offense catches up with their defense. If their home opener is anything to go by, the potential is there.

The team is currently 3-2 in league play after losing two to Orange this week.  They prepares to face West Geauga at 4:30 on Thursday.

Keep up with The Beachcomber’s sports Twitter for updates on the baseball team’s season.

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Baseball Team Opens Strong With Two Wins Against Perry, Drops Two to Orange