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Indians Baseball Read to Take Next Step
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2020-03-11

            After several years of cultivating the program, the Upper Perkiomen baseball team is ready to move beyond just qualifying for the district playoffs. Head coach

Upper Perk's Matthew Reinhat (right) reaches for a throw

to second during drills Monday afternoon.  Reinhart is 

pegged to start at third this season. 

Frank Mercon says the fruits of his efforts are starting to pay off.  "This skill level from little league to middle school is increasing," Mercon said. "And the depth is starting to grow. That talent is starting to trickle into the high school."

            Beginning this year, the coach wants the Indians to set their goals on reaching the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs and winning multiple District One Class 5A playoffs games. They have the depth and ability to contend, according to Mercon.  "We're talented enough to do it if we can put it all together," said the coach, whose team went 8-9 in 2019, including a 5-0 loss to Interboro in the opening round of the district playoffs. "We should be talking about that every year."

            For at least the last several years, Mercon and his staff – which includes Rick Rossiter, Mike Svanson, John Brittain, Evan Wickard, Todd Swenk and Glenn Kranich – have been holding clinics for youth players. According to the coach, the efforts have succeeded in growing the numbers and improving their level of play,

            The numbers of players trying out for the high school baseball team has increased recently. During the previous two seasons, the totals reached the mid-40s, and Mercon organized a ninth grade club team. This season, though the ninth grade team was scrapped, 47 players in all four grades tried out for the team.

            Mercon described his decision to eliminate 14 players as the worst part of being a coach. He called some of the decisions excruciating.  "Some of the decisions were so close," said the coach, adding that the players' grades played a role in the cuts.

            Pitching should be a strength of the Tribe, which opens the regular season on March 20 in a non-league game at Oley Valley before debuting at home three days later against Pennridge. Malachi Duka and Aric Kressly will start the season the team's top two starters. Baxter Sewall will open as the No. 3 starter.

            According to Mercon, Duka made significant strides last season while excelling as the closer. The coach described Sewall as having a great work ethic.

            The Indians offense will be led by first baseman David Kilroy, second baseman Bobby Lynch, third baseman Sewall and sophomore shortstop Nate Rinehart.

            According to the coach, senior Drew Kupchak, sophomore Logan Simmon, and juniors Wes Barker and Jake Ankele are expected to compete for time in the outfield. He said all four could pitch, as well. Look for Riley Kollar and Dalton Dunlap to contribute off the bench.

            "Our offense is starting to turn the corner," Mercon said. "We've got a lot of speed this year, and a number of young players who need seasoning."

            The defense remains in flux, according to the coach. He said the team will attempt to look at all its players during a pair of scrimmages against Schuylkill Valley (March 10) and Souderton (March 16) with the intent of putting its' best team on the field for the season opener.  "That part of the game is so important," Mercon said. "It's amazing how many one-run games there are in the conference."


 

 

 

 

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