Loaded Bulldogs with high expectations for 2019
MANCHESTER — The Burr and Burton baseball team wasn't satisfied with how its 2018 season ended.
BBA was in position to beat eventual champion South Burlington in the Division I state quarterfinals, but the Bulldogs couldn't finish the job.
With the 2019 season right around the corner, BBA plans to right that wrong this spring.
The Bulldogs lost three seniors to graduation, most notably Jay McCoy, who was the ace of their pitching staff and a dominant hitter in the middle of their lineup for years.
With that being said, the Bulldogs are bringing back most of the core from last season's 12-6 squad, so BBA is confident heading into the year.
"Any time you're bringing back the amount of starters that we're bringing back, it's helpful," said Bulldogs coach Ed Lewicki. "We have three guys on the team that have started since they were freshman and two of them are seniors and captains, Chandler Pouk and Daniel Hatheway. There's a ton of experience."
Junior Joey McCoy is the last of the three to be a starter since his freshman year, and along with Pouk, Hatheway and senior catcher Owen King, was a starter in the state championship win for BBA two years ago.
Junior John Morgantini started for the Bulldogs last season and will back at first base this year, along with some time in the outfield and on the mound.
Fellow junior Ethan Senecal will be a key piece to the BBA pitching staff, as he was last year, and will play second base when not on the mound.
"Ethan was one of our best pitchers at times last year and he's back," Lewicki said. "It's exciting to have the returners we have."
Senecal will be part of a pitching rotation that is teeming with talent. Senecal, Morgantini, Hatheway, John Rodriguez, Joey McCoy, Will Addington and Blake Greene are all options on the mound for the Bulldogs.
"It's really helpful, especially with the way our schedule is this year," Lewicki said. "We're really end-loaded [in our schedule]. The last three weeks of the season we have three games a week, so that's where that pitching depth will be big."
On any baseball team, being set up the middle of the field is essential. The catcher, shortstop and center fielder all play crucial roles in their leadership aspect on the field. BBA is feels very confident in its guys playing those three positions. King will be behind the plate for the third consecutive season. Hatheway will play shortstop once again for the Bulldogs and Joey McCoy will patrol center field.
"I've been around baseball a long time and good teams are built up the middle," Lewicki said. "We're strong up the middle and then you throw a quality pitcher on the mound and usually that results in being in every game."
When not pitching, Rodriguez will play infield. Pouk will be back at third base and Greene will join McCoy in the outfield playing left field. Right field is up for grabs, but Lewicki sees senior Colby Leary starting out there to start the season.
Sophomore Brandon Burns has impressed early on with this quick bat and could see time in either the outfield or infield.
Versatility will be key for all of the Bulldogs' players and that was made clear to the group early on.
"We're going to need to guys to play multiple different positions," Lewicki said.
Being one of the top seeds in D-I is essential for the Bulldogs. Grabbing a No. 1 or 2 seed would secure BBA multiple home games, ahead of a trip to Centennial Field at the University of Vermont for the state title game if they make it that far.
"We were winning the quarterfinal game against [South Burlington], who won the state title and we were wining in the bottom of the sixth and a [South Burlington hitter] hits a lazy fly ball to right and that fence is short," Lewicki said. "If that's at our field, Joey McCoy is camped under that, makes the catch and we move on to the next round. Going on the road is difficult, so that's why every game we play this year is important."
The Bulldogs' schedule will test the team throughout the year. A two-game road stretch against Rice and CVU in late April will be one of BBA's toughest tests of the year. The Redhawks were 15-1 last spring, before getting upset in the state quarterfinals by St. Johnsbury.
The Marble Valley League will give the Bulldogs some tough games. Brattleboro, who went 17-2 last year, lost a lot of senior talent from last year's squad, most notably pitcher Leif Bigelow, who will pitch for the University of Connecticut after he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Despite those losses, the Colonels will be a tough team to beat.
Rutland and Mount Anthony are always competitive when it comes to MVL games as well.
BBA has a talented pitching staff and consistently pitch at a high level. For the Bulldogs, it's just about minimizing mistakes. If they do that, a special season could be on the way in Manchester.
"We're gonna hit the ball, our teams always hit. We have the quality pitching," Lewicki said. "Now, can we not give extra outs? If we minimize our mistakes, we're going to have a very strong year."
The Bulldogs begin their regular season against Mill River on April 10 at home.
Roster: Will Addington, Brandon Burns, Charles Citron, Blake Greene, Daniel Hatheway, Owen King, Alexander Knowles, Edward Knowles, Colby Leary, Joey McCoy, John Morgantini, Chandler Pouk, John Rodriguez, Ethan Senecal.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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