Posted by Glenn Fredricks on Apr 14 2005 at 05:00PM PDT
BY DOUG McKENZIE Staff Writer for the Sentinel While the high school baseball season is still young, it appears to be safe to say that the Spotswood Chargers know how to score runs. Thus far, head coach Glenn Fredricks’ squad has plated 63 runs in five games — more than enough to propel them to a 4-1 start, and 3-0 in the Greater Middlesex Conference’s Blue Division. In the process, the Chargers have beaten up on the likes of Highland Park (21-5), Dunellen (16-6) and Middlesex (13-3), while also posting a 6-2 win over a solid Metuchen team. And if you ask Fredricks, Spotswood should really have been 5-0 heading into yesterday’s game against third-ranked Colonia. “We were beating Woodbridge 7-1 with six outs to go, and they came back and beat us 8-7,” the coach said. Fredricks, a former assistant at New Brunswick and Immaculata and the head coach of the Milltown American Legion team that finished fourth in the state last year, has taken over for Bill Toncic, who stepped down as coach after a five-year run that saw the Chargers go 82-38. And the new coach has inherited a rebuilding team looking to defend back-to-back Blue Division championships. Spotswood lost three all-conference players to graduation in catcher Gene Scheicher and third baseman James Corbett, both of whom have moved on to play Division III football, as well as Eric Hines, one of the top pitchers in the state last year. Hines is the ace of the staff at Caldwell College now, and is off to a 2-0 start — both games complete-game shutouts. With such big voids to fill, Fredricks thinks that some people may be overlooking the Chargers this season. “I think people may have been sleeping on us early on,” he said. “But these kids have done more than I’ve asked of them, and came in ready to win. “We’re hitting .408 as a team and scoring a lot of runs. But I attribute a lot of that to smart, aggressive base-running. That’s something that’s often overlooked at the high school level, but when you put pressure on guys to make plays, good things happen.” The Charger offense has been led by senior left fielder Brian Dzuro, whom Fredricks describes as an offensive force. “Brian has been the focal point of our offense, and everybody else is feeding off him,” the coach said. “He’s the most overlooked player in the conference, and he’s so coachable. He doesn’t say much, he just hits the ball hard every time up.” Dzuro entered yesterday on a streak of nine consecutive at-bats with a base hit, and is 10-for-12 overall. Among those hits were four doubles and two home runs. He has nine RBIs and eight runs scored. “Brian is hitting .833 through five games, and has an on-base percentage of .810,” Fredricks said. “So his average is higher than his OBP. I didn’t think that was possible until now.” Dzuro’s blazing start has caught the attention of several college scouts, according to Fredricks. “They’re starting to pick up on him; I’m starting to get phone calls,” he said. The guys who have been getting on base in front of Dzuro are senior center fielder Steve Abbot, who is hitting .371 early on, and sophomore second baseman Mike Hohman. “These two have done a nice job of setting the table,” Fredricks said. “We always have people on the bases, and we like to move people around in the field. That opens up holes.” Fredricks is platooning seniors Rob Drako and Travis Retzlaff at the DH spot, with the two combining for five hits in 14 at-bats from the cleanup spot. Senior first baseman Scott Dyckman bats fifth, and is off to a blazing start, hitting .333 with eight RBIs. “Scott’s a big-time player,” Fredricks said. “He experimented with switch-hitting his first two years here, but now that we’ve cut that out, he’s really done well.” The Dubovick brothers, John and Mike, bat sixth and seventh, respectively, and have shown quite a knack for working well together. John, a senior shortstop, has hit .563 early on and has scored nine runs, with his brother sending him home the majority of the time with clutch hits. Mike Dubovick is hitting at a .533 clip, and has moved from second base to right field — a transition that his coach said he has made flawlessly. Senior Jeff Dougherty, who hit his first grand slam and a two-run home run in the same inning against Highland Park, is sharing time behind the plate with senior Lou Dimeglio. “These two guys have a lot of responsibility, because our pitching staff is untested,” Fredricks said. “They’re getting yelled at a lot, but they’re my hard-hat guys.” Among the other players who will see significant time, depending on who’s pitching, are sophomore third baseman John Berner and senior outfielder Dylan Bamrick. If there is a question mark for Fredricks, it will be how well his pitching staff holds up over the course of the season. The staff is headed by senior southpaw Steve Curry, who is 2-0 early on with a save, having struck out 18 batters in 10 2/3 innings. He is joined by righty ace Willie Beard, a sophomore who emerged as one of the GMC’s top up-and-coming pitchers last spring and over the course of the summer, when he shined for the Milltown Legion team. Among the other hurlers for Spotswood are junior righty Garret Andren, who Fredricks said is also an extremely valuable utility player capable of playing every position on the field, junior Danny Savage, junior Walt Wenzel, Hohman and Dzuro. Fredricks, who is assisted by Chris Ferrone, and former Spotswood players Dan Fredricks (an All-Group II pitcher) and Shawn Dyckman (who was the starting catcher for Montclair State), expects big things from his club this spring. “It really depends on how good we’re going to get,” he said. “There’s a lot of parity in the conference this year. There’s no Edison of 1996, no real juggernauts. I think you’re going to see a carousel at the top of the rankings this year.” Spotswood is currently ranked eighth in the GMC, and improved on that standing yesterday battering Colonia 9-6 in Colonia. Friday, they’ll take on a South River team that has won three of its last four games and swept the Chargers last season. And if the bats keep producing as they have early on, the Chargers may find themselves on top of the carousel before long. STORY COMPLIMENTS OF GREATER MEDIA NEWS, THE EAST BRUNSWICK SENTINAL, AND DOUG MACKENZIE


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