Friday, January 27, 2023


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Sports Article
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Coach Sees Good Times Ahead for Indians Baseball
Written by Ernie Quatrani Correspondent

Upper Perk's Austin Orsini reaches for a fly ball during practice Monday on the turf field at the high school. Due to field conditions, the team has not been able to get on their home field yet this season.

                If you are a baseball team, it is not a good thing when your first time on actual grass and dirt is in a league game, especially when the opponent is everybody's prohibitive favorite to win the league and maybe the state.

                Therefore, it was no surprise that the Upper Perk baseball team opened its 2015 campaign with a 7-0 loss at Spring-Ford on Tuesday.

                The Rams got a combined three-hitter from Bret Clarke and Matt Yost and three hits and three runs batted in by Connor Klemann.

                Glenn Boyer, Erik Stalford and Elias Gabel-Tripp had the Tribe's three hits. Stalford took the loss on the mound.

                Despite the setback, coach Frank Mercon, starting his fifth season, sees good things ahead for his squad.

                "We've had some of the best practices we've had since I've been head coach, so I feel really good about where we are going," Mercon said. "I can definitely see us getting into districts."

                Mercon's optimism starts with a pitching staff led by senior ace Chris Kachmar who posted a 3.53 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 31 innings last spring.

                Kachmar, who has committed to play baseball at Farleigh Dickinson next year, echoes Mercon's confidence.

                "I'm really looking forward to this year, because we have a lot of good players on the pitching staff. We're experienced in facing this league, so I think we'll do pretty well."

                The righthander will be joined in the starting rotation by senior lefty Daron Pijanowski and senior righthander Stalford.

                Pijanowski features a curveball as an out pitch and struck out 27 in 25 innings in 2014. He will be heading to Albright as a pitcher after graduation.

                "When he is around the plate, he's tough," Mercon noted. "He's definitely going to be one of the better pitchers in the league."

                Mercon gave some consideration to making Boyer the number three starter, but feels he is better suited to a closer's role because of his ability to throw strikes.

                "Glenn Boyer has really good stuff," the coach said.

                Of course, good pitching can be negated by poor fielding, but Mercon expects his defense to be "significantly improved over last year" if and when they can practice on the field.

                Last year's abysmal weather restricted the team to only five practices on the varsity diamond, and by the end of the season the defense was atrocious. Mercon is hoping for a more merciful Mother Nature this year.

                Zach Miller will be taking over as the everyday shortstop and Jake Breyer goes behind the plate. When Kachmar is on the mound, Bryan Pijanowski will be in center.

                The biggest question mark is the offense in a league steeped in good pitchers. "The key is can we hit the ball?" Mercon asked.

                Kachmar (.283 batting average last year), Stalford (.351 on base percentage), and Daron Pijanowski will be counted on there also.

                Brett Fullerton is a promising newcomer whose bat has been impressive in the preseason. Mercon also likes his versatility in the field and hopes to get him into the line-up as often as possible.

                "We'll have to see what he does in games," Mercon said.

                Getting into the district playoffs will be tougher than doing well in districts. It always is for the smaller league schools.

                Baseball is something of an anomaly in the PAC-10 where most sports are split into big school and small school divisions. Not so in baseball where the big boys in the league, Spring-Ford, Boyertown, Methacton, and Owen J. Roberts have been allowed to protect their turf.

                It can be frustrating for the smaller schools.

                "If we were in two divisions, a three A and a four A,  every single year I would feel like we could win our division," Mercon said.







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