Time To Fly

Time To Fly

Article copied from Jamestown Post Journal (http://www.post-journal.com/sports/local-sports/2019/03/time-to-fly/)

With just three sophomores returning to its 16-man roster, many might think an inexperienced Jamestown Community College baseball team could struggle this spring.

That's not how Matt Cummings sees it.

The fourth-year head coach sees it as an opportunity for the 13 first-year players.

"It really doesn't concern us," Cummings said of his team's relative inexperience Monday evening. "With the quick turnover at the junior college level, you are always looking at freshmen to contribute right away. We look it as an opportunity for more quality baseball players to get playing time."

The Jayhawks are scheduled to open their season this week at Westmoreland County CC in Youngwood, Pennsylvania with a 4:30 p.m. first pitch for a nine-inning game today before a doubleheader against the Wolfpack on Wednesday beginning at 2 p.m.

Those will be the only three nonconference games for Jamestown CC before opening Region 3 Division III play Sunday with a doubleheader at Erie CC.

The Jayhawks' home opener is scheduled for Tuesday, April 2 at Diethrick Park against Tompkins Cortland CC, with Game 1 set to begin at 2 p.m. and the second game to follow.

Returning this season for the Jayhawks will be first baseman/pitcher Braiden Blair (Warren, Pa./Warren), outfielder/pitcher Caleb Caldwell (Frewsburg/Frewsburg) and shortstop Carlo Rodriguez (Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico/Lysander Borrero Terry).

"They really learned about preparing their bodies for the intense baseball season," Cummings said of Blair and Caldwell. "They came in this fall in shape. Through the first semester … they have really dedicated themselves to the weight room. … A number of guys have been getting workouts in with assistant coach Doug Clark."

As far as his opening-day lineup is concerned, Cummings expects newcomer German Nolasco (Weeki Wachee, Florida/Weeki Wachee) to lead off and play second base followed by Rodriguez at shortstop.

In the No. 3 hole and playing somewhere in the outfield or pitching will be Paul Tripi (Cheektowaga/Maryvale), who is a freshman transfer from Genesee CC. Roberto Aracena (Miami, Florida/Coral Gables) will play third base and bat fourth ahead of Caldwell in the No. 5 hole.

"Roberto is a big-bodied kid. He has good size. … He's really athletic enough to play anywhere in the infield," Cummings said. "He's one heck of an athlete who signed a letter of intent to play quarterback, but when things fell through he turned to baseball. … We expect a lot of things out of him defensively."

Zach Kelley (Middleburg, Florida/Middleburg) will bat No. 6 and either play in the outfield, pitch or be the designated hitter ahead of Blair.

"We're really excited about Kelley being our fourth starter," Cummings said. "We feel like he has some pretty electric stuff, when he stays consistent, that can give us an edge."

Freshman catcher Spencer TeWinkle (Clymer/Clymer) will bat eighth and Luke Heil (Lakewood/Southwestern) will bat ninth while playing in the outfield or pitching.

"He's more of your prototypical defensive catcher," Cummings said of TeWinkle. "He calls a great game and is a very intelligent young man. Anything he does offensively is icing on the cake."

Evan Harrison, a freshman from Ontario, Canada, will be the Jayhawks' opening day starter today with Blair and Caldwell to follow on Wednesday.

"I think things are heading in the right direction with more local talent coming to us next year and as we continue to network, talented ball players are coming from the southern United States and internationally into Canada," Cummings said. "We are really starting to show people what a great opportunity it is to come to JCC and play baseball."

Freshmen Jake Brown (Jamestown/Randolph) and Conner Burrell (Franklinville/Franklinville) will see time at first base while Blair is on the mound while freshman Reid Bjork (Frewsburg/Frewsburg) can spell any of the other infielders. Elwin Gomez (Dunkirk/Dunkirk) will spell TeWinkle behind the plate.

"Reid will be our ultimate utility player. … It's a great opportunity for a guy like that to be plugged into the lineup anywhere," Cummings said of Bjork, adding about Gomez, "having the rigorous schedule of eight games a week, those guys will be in and out of the lineup as needed."

In what could be seen as a blessing or a curse, the Jayhawks will not face Niagara County CC, currently ranked No. 5 in the national poll, until their final two doubleheaders of the season Tuesday, April 30 and Thursday, May 2.

"Whether it's early in the year or at the end of the schedule, you always circle them on the calendar," Cummings said of the Thunderwolves. "To be the best you have to beat the best."