Milford Baseball Off to Another Fast Start
Monday, April 16, 2012
“Our talent level is really high, and our expectations are as high as possible,” senior centerfielder Chris Casey said. “If we play our best baseball, we feel we can beat anyone. But, if we play poorly, we can lose to anyone, as we’ve seen before.”
Last season Milford coasted through the regular season, and earned the top seed in the Division I Central Mass playoffs. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they were bounced in the second round by eighth-seeded Leominster by a score of 7-6.
The Hawks have once again come out the gate quickly, winning their first three games by a combined score of 30-4. Senior Jarrod Casey has started two of those games, throwing 26 strikeouts in 12 innings of work, and has barely allowed opposing hitters to even get a bat on the ball.
Impressive, but Untested
Despite his team’s early dominance, coach Steve Manguso knows the road will get much tougher from here on out.
“Our defense will be tested the rest of the way, and I think they know that,” Manguso said. “I don’t think we’ve really been tested yet, and it’s easy to play defense when our pitchers are striking everybody out. I have no reason to believe we won’t be solid defensively, but we’re going to be see a lot more.”
The Hawks bring back the majority of their key players from a season ago, and the hope is that this senior-laden team will play with poise deep into the playoffs. Jarrod Casey will lead the pitching staff, as he has early on, and there is plenty of talent around him. Casey does not, however, share his coaches defensive concerns.
“We’ve all played together for a while, and I trust all of these guys behind me to make plays,” Casey said. “It makes my job a lot easier, knowing I can just throw hard, and that they will take care of anything (opposing hitters) get a piece of.”
A Powerful Order
The Hawks’ pitching staff may have taken care of business early, but their bats have not exactly been dormant. When you average 10 runs a game, there is clearly a good amount of talent in the order, and Chris Casey will put Milford’s lineup up against anyone in state’s.
Manguso agrees that his team has a potent order, but stresses that offense can come and go in waves. That is why overpowering pitching and solid defense are what he hopes this year’s team will be built around.
“I think we’re pretty well rounded, and all the guys swing pretty well,” Manguso said. “But it comes and it goes, and that’s just the way it is. Offensively, we’re just trying to get on a roll and stay on a roll.”
Aside from the two Caseys, Milford does have an abundance of upperclassman talent. Steven Morganelli, JJ Branch and Eric Fernandez are expected to step up in the pitching rotation this year, and shortstop David Rice should settle in nicely batting second after Chris Casey.
First baseman Matt Ferretti will provide power in the clean up spot, and the pair of Corey Pratt and Mark Sauder will platoon the rightfield position, and bounce around elsewhere. With all these experienced players, even Manguso admits that his team will be one to watch this year.
“We’re a pretty good ball club,” Manguso said. “We’ve got a bunch of our main guys back from last year, and a really strong senior class. We’ll see if we can make a run in the playoffs.”
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