Opinion Corner: Keep an eye on Post 14Jamestown Legion baseball coach Shane Schoeneberg said he likes what’s in his team’s future. The team’s season ended with a bottom of the ninth rally from Minot at the state tournament last Thursday.
By: Chris Aarhus, Sun Sports Writer, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown Legion baseball coach Shane Schoeneberg said he likes what’s in his team’s future.
The team’s season ended with a bottom of the ninth rally from Minot at the state tournament last Thursday.
But looking at what the team has coming back is reason to smile for Schoeneberg, whose squad finished with a 16-20 record that included a 5-0 mark in the Post 14 Invite at Jack Brown Stadium.
Gone are Kasey Gengler and Danny Fischer, the team’s two best pitchers from a statistical standpoint this summer. Fischer was 4-2 with a 2.29 ERA. He finished with only 16 strikeouts, but he walked just six in 43 innings pitched. Gengler finished 4-2 with a 2.82 ERA, recording 10 strikeouts and walking only eight in 39.2 innings.
Their ability to avoid walking batters paid huge dividends for Jamestown, but that wasn’t the only place their impact was felt.
Fischer has been the team’s shortstop for the past four years and his absence there will certainly be felt.
Gengler is a utility player, a valuable asset for a team that sorely needed it. He could play any position except for shortstop, second base and catcher. And if called upon, I’m sure he’d do a decent job at those, too.
At the plate, Fischer was the leadoff man for a long time, until Schoeneberg decided to go with Riley Schafer there and bump Fischer down. A good move as Fischer’s left-handed bat could move Schafer over to third on a groundout, making for more productive outs.
Fischer hit .309 with 19 runs scored and team-leading 12 hit-by-pitches. He was tied for second in walks with 15. Gengler hit .299 with 17 RBIs, but his most remarkable stat might be the amount of times he reached on error. He got on by error 13 times this summer, nearly double any of his teammates. That’s likely because Gengler hustled out ground balls, not allowing any fielder to recover and throw him out.
But what Post 14 has coming back is significant, as Brady Anderson — statistically the team’s best hitter — returns his .394 average. Jake Stilwell and his team-leading 24 RBIs will also likely be back, and so will Joey Gebhardt, a standout at catcher whose bat and pitching arm are rapidly improving.
I see Schafer leading off again with a few possibilities at the No. 2 hole such as Landon Weiser or Nick Fuchs. Anderson should bat No. 3, followed by Stilwell. Tyler Ukestad would be at the No. 5 hole and the rest of the lineup — Gebhardt, Ben Walz, Shaun Hogan and maybe a few others — should fall into place nicely.
Defensively, Fuchs would be the next in line to replace Fischer at shortstop, while Gengler’s spots should be replaceable, though finding a backup center fielder for Riley Schafer will be big on Schoeneberg’s agenda. That’s one spot where losing Gengler could hurt the most, as Schafer will likely be the team’s ace.
Schafer led Post 14 in innings pitched this summer with 56, finishing with a dismal 2-6 record. He had an ERA of 4.38, but quality outings at the end of the season prove he’ll be the team’s top pitcher. The staff should also have the services of Anderson and Gebhardt, the latter of whom had some brilliant outings in 2012. Throw in Ukestad, Hogan and maybe even Jake Stilwell if he’s healthy, and Post 14 is likely sitting OK for next season.
Something to look forward to, that’s for sure.
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org