BERLIN- The first step in Stephen Decatur’s varsity baseball team’s rebuilding process got off to a shaky start this week with a 10-0 game-shortened loss to Bayside South rival James M. Bennett in the season opener.
With just a handful of returning players from last year’s 16-4 team, which reached the Class 3A-East region semifinals before bowing out of the state tournament, the Seahawks are in a rebuilding mode as the 2011 campaign gets underway. Gone from last year’s often dominating team are senior stars such as Troy Bennett, James Rossi and Marshall Betts, for example, but the Seahawks do have some senior leadership on a very young team this season.
However, the 17-man roster has just six returning players from last year’s team to go along with a bunch of junior varsity call-ups from last year. Key returning players include Brad Stiles, Mike Baglieri, Mike O’Neill and Connor Malloy, but beyond those returning players is a line-up full of talent and potential, but short on experience.
In their season opener at home against Bennett on Tuesday, the Seahawks pitched well at times and made some remarkable plays on defense, but produced little at the plate against a dominant Bennett pitcher. Decatur trailed 1-0 after the top of the first and gave up four more in the third inning to fall behind 5-0. In the third, Bennett got a bases-loaded, no out single to score two runs and added two more before the inning was over to take the 5-0 lead.
Bennett added five more in the top of the fifth, two of which scored on another bases loaded single, to extend the lead to 10-0, putting the Seahawks in the precarious position of facing a shortened game. In the bottom of the fifth, Decatur got a leadoff single from Mike Ruggierie in an effort to stave off the early finish, but the runner was stranded on second as Bennett closed out the game with a bang-bang play at first.
After the loss in the home opener, the Seahawks hit the road for a pair of games against Wicomico, played yesterday afternoon, and Queen Anne’s, set for this afternoon, before returning home against Colonel Richardson on Monday.