Baseball relying on roster depth to reach playoffs

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Baseball relying on roster depth to reach playoffs

Head Coach Jason Thiel's team looks to make a final playoff push before Marywood's departure from the Colonial States Athletic Conference. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Marywood Athletics

Head Coach Jason Thiel's team looks to make a final playoff push before Marywood's departure from the Colonial States Athletic Conference. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Marywood Athletics

Head Coach Jason Thiel's team looks to make a final playoff push before Marywood's departure from the Colonial States Athletic Conference. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Marywood Athletics

Head Coach Jason Thiel's team looks to make a final playoff push before Marywood's departure from the Colonial States Athletic Conference. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Marywood Athletics

John Ferraro

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Despite being ranked seventh in the CSAC preseason poll, head coach Jason Thiel believes his players are more than capable of a playoff push.

After missing the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) playoffs last season, the Pacers baseball team is motivated to contend this year.

“I’m going to expect us to battle for one of those playoffs spots. That’s what we expect from ourselves and it’s the main goal for the season,” said Thiel.

Thiel acknowledges the loss of the 2017 CSAC Player of the Year Vince Rebar and other seniors to graduation, but said this year’s roster is much deeper.

“We did lose a lot, but I think the guys that have been here for a few years know that we brought in some good, young talent. We may not be as top-heavy, but we might be better one-through-33 than we’ve ever been.”

The Pacers roster is underclassmen-heavy including 15 freshmen and eight sophomores. Thiel mentioned some of the sophomore players he thinks can make the most impact.

“The sophomore class, guys like Trevor Powers, Jake Schuster and Anthony Navaro, will be leading this program into its next development stage,” he said.

Schuster, a first baseman and catcher, finished second in the conference rookie of the year voting last season.

Powers, an outfielder/pitcher, batted .352 with 13 RBIs in 21 games last year while Navaro, the team’s most experienced catcher, had just two errors behind the plate.

As a guest on TV-Marywood’s “Beyond the Arch,” Naravo said he gained a lot of experience during his freshman campaign.

“Coming here as a freshman, you don’t know much about the school or the team, but you find your way especially with the older guys taking you in.”

Thiel also expects freshmen like Dunmore’s John Mandarano, Gettysburg native Michael Tempel and Scott Becker from Pittstown, New Jersey to immediately help the team.

As far as an overall strength for the team, Thiel focused on defense, specifically in the outfield and catching.

“This is probably the fastest we’ve ever been in the outfield. We could put three guys out there at any position and they can track the ball down,” said Thiel.

Thiel recruited two catchers, Shane Smith and Ben Gravel, to lift some of the burden off Naravo this year.

“Ben has really surprised us behind the plate. We knew what we would get from Shane. Anthony is returning. We feel confident in all three of them,” he said.

With the goal of postseason play in mind, Thiel continues to stress unity and effort to his squad.

“Just grind. Get better. Work hard and pull the same side of the rope. Be a team,” Thiel said.

The team is currently 5-6 in non-conference play this season and hosts Wilkes University next Tuesday.

Contact the writer: [email protected]

Twitter: @JohnFerraroTWW

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