Blue Knights Baseball
By: Dan Crowley
Sandwich High School varsity baseball coach Dave Aycock is happy with what he sees this spring.
“We have some good baseball talent,” the coach said, “We just have to get into baseball condition.”
The Blue Knights finished last year with a regular season record of 12-8, losing to Brookline in the first round of the state tournament.”
“Getting back to the tournament is our goal this year,” Aycock explained. “Once there we want to keep going.”
The Knights still have some things to iron out, but the team has looked good in early scrimmages.
“I thought we looked pretty good against Carver last weekend,” Aycock noted. “We weren’t perfect, but we didn’t have any fatal flaws. We just need more repetition.”
Senior captain and four-year SHS baseball veteran Brian Ing will play a pivotal role this spring. Ing is expected to get the ball opening day. When not on the mound Ing will be the team’s starting catcher.
“Brian is our number-one pitcher and our catcher,” Aycock pointed out, “and he could be our leadoff hitter. Brian is a leader and has great athleticism.”
Senior captain Al Stanton also returns to the Blue Knights for a fourth season.
“Al will start at first base,” Aycock said. “He might miss a few games on the mound to open the season. Al is a big target at first base. He’s an excellent hitter, who finished third in hitting last year in the Atlantic Coast league and was second in earned run average.”
When Stanton does pitch, the first base job will fall to Tim Kelley or Chris Gallagher.
The middle infield is still up for grabs this week. Sophomore Jason Hendy and juniors Sam Kent and Steve Lessard are battling for the second base and shortstop positions.
“We have two big holes to fill there,” the coach explained. “Second base was Jimmy Souza and shortstop was Joe Perry. Sam played some third base last year and Steve is very capable of making the big plays. Jason started the season last year on the freshman team, moving up to JV and varsity. They all have some experience.”
Senior Matt Cassista returns to the hot corner and will be backed up by Matt Leeman.
“Cassista started the majority of the season at third base last year,” the coach said. “He has the best swing on the team and is a solid line drive hitter. Matt Leeman is a very good player. We’ll find innings for him somewhere to get his bat in the lineup. He had a fantastic JV season last year. He’s a good contact hitter.
When Ing is on the mound the catching will fall to either junior Alex Shell or sophomore Jordan DeBettencourt.
“They are both working with Coach (Chris) Dintino, and we’ll see who develops at a faster pace. Either way they are both capable catchers.”
Senior Mike Sullivan and junior Kevin Daly will patrol left field and pitch.
“We’re going to need a lot of good innings from Mike this year,” the coach said. “He’s probably our number-two guy and pitched in the tournament last year. Kevin had a pretty good JV season on the mound and I’m eager to see what he can do.”
Centerfield once again will be the domain of John Hendy. The veteran senior brings power to the plate and speed and skill to the outfield.
“I feel very comfortable with him out there,” Aycock added.
Pat Conrad returns to right field for the Knights.
“Pat has the strongest arm on the team,” Coach Aycock pointed out. “He has done some work in the off-season on his hitting and is a very good all-around athlete.”
Joining Ing and Sullivan in the rotation and working out of the bullpen will be pitchers Nick Burke, Kelley, Daly, and Gallagher.
“Al (Stanton) may work a little out of the pen when he gets back,” Aycock said. “Nick will be a reserve outfielder and do some pitching. He played his freshman year, but missed his sophomore and junior seasons. We were impressed with him during tryouts. He has good movement on his fastball and has a lower than normal arm slot. Tim threw two very good games against Plymouth North last year for us. He’s a hard thrower with a good curve. Chris has looked good in scrimmages. He’s still developing as a pitcher, but is very dedicated and loves baseball.”
Sandwich has no left-handed pitching.
Coach Peter Howell will work with the freshman team again this spring and Coach Dave Neill will handle the junior varsity. Coach Aycock will be assisted by Coaches Mike Miller and Dintino.
“If we play to our potential, there is not a game we can’t win,” Aycock added. “We feel there is not a team in our league whois better than we are this year. The key is going to be staying focused and giving 100 percent in every game.”
Sandwich opens the season April 1 when they will host Barnstable at 4 PM.
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