March 14 - Armed with deep pitching staffs, Battlefield and Patriot look to again be the class of the Cedar Run District this spring.
The Bobcats return senior Zach Agnos, a East Carolina recruit and member of the 2018 NOVA Nine Team who has started since he stepped on campus at the Haymarket school. Agnos has a fastball that reaches into the low 90s and is coming off a junior campaign in which he went 4-1 with two saves, a 2.26 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 40.1 innings.
He’ll serve as the ace of a staff that also includes senior right-hander Matt Michel, who transferred back to the school after earning first-team VISAA Division II all-state honors last year at Highland School. Michel will pitch at Division II East Stroudsburg next year.
As good as the Bobcats’ pitching should be, the biggest factor in their success could be how well they swing it. Specifically, how well the likes of leadoff man Craig Miles and outfielder Carter Cunningham, a Gardner-Webb signee, hit and provide Agnos (.404, 3 HR, 24 RBI) with protection could determine how deep a postseason run coach Jay Burkhart’s club will make.
The Pioneers, meanwhile, are also very deep on the mound. Atop the rotation will be junior Riley Eikhoff, a Virginia recruit who struggled at times last spring but coach Josh Steinberg hopes will bounce back this year. Patriot also returns senior Liam Fonner, who will pitch next year at Division II Frostburg State, as well as junior left-handers Luke Basler (2-0, 1.94 ERA) and A.J. Escobar (2-1, 2.07 ERA).
Also much like Battlefield, the Pioneers have questions offensively after graduating the district’s Player of the Year, Brian Rall, as well as all-region shortstop Hunter Meade and outfielder Willie Balkin. Eikhoff and junior first baseman Conor Jersey (.308) will be asked to shoulder much of that load.
Osbourn Park returns one of the area’s top outfielders in junior Shane Saunders (.484, 14 steals) along with junior right-hander Cameron Mozingo-Morales, a second-team All-Region 6D selection, to its young core. The Yellow Jackets have five returners who were named first- or second-team all-district, and they add talented freshmen catchers Mason Balsis and A.J. Shepard, who have already committed to Division I programs.
A talented young core also exists at Osbourn, which returns two second-team all-district picks in senior Chris Barragan and sophomore Alex Brown (.329). Stonewall Jackson, which begins a new era under former Osbourn Park coach John Miller, also returns two second-team all-league selections in junior Ronaldo Pulinario and sophomore Garison Obcemea.
1t. Battlefield (18)
1t. Patriot (18)
3. Osbourn Park (12)
4. Osbourn (7)
5. Stonewall Jackson (5)
* points awarded via votes by league coaches, descending from 5 for 1st place, 4 for 2nd place, etc.
Note: Osbourn Park coach Jack Ferrick did not respond to multiple requests, therefor poll results were based on responses from the other four coaches.
District Champion: Battlefield
Player of the Year: Zach Agnos, Sr., RHP/SS, Battlefield
Pitcher of the Year: Riley Eikhoff, RHP/SS, Patriot
Head Coach: Jay Burkhart, 9th year (137-54); 11th year overall (162-72)
2018 Record: 19-6 overall, 7-1 district
Key Losses: C Reese Varley; 1B Austin Estridge; 3B/RHP Casey Rosenthal; 2B Jonah Seagears
Key Returners: Sr. RHP/SS Zach Agnos; Sr. OF/1B Carter Cunningham; Sr. OF Craig Miles; Sr. RHP J.T. McGuire; Jr. C Peter Benavides; Jr. C Jacob Lawler; Sr. RHP Matt Michel (transfer)
College Bound: Zach Agnos (East Carolina); Carter Cunningham (Gardner-Webb); Matt Michel (East Stroudsburg)
Coach’s Comments: “We will be an older staff on the mound. Have to fill a few key spots with some of the youth that will be on the varsity this season. Our pitching should carry us until we can establish those open areas.”
Head Coach: Josh Steinberg, 4th year (50-19)
2018 Record: 13-7 overall, 6-2 district
Key Losses: C Brian Rall; SS Hunter Meade; OF Willie Balkin; OF Michael Fyvie; OF Will Heltibridle
Key Returners: Jr. RHP/SS Riley Eikhoff; Sr. OF/RHP Jaden Minnick; Jr. LHP Luke Basler; Jr. LHP AJ Escobar; Jr. 1B Conor Jersey
College Bound: Riley Eikhoff (Virginia); Liam Fonner (Frostburg State)
Coach’s Comments: “We will have a lot of new faces in the field, but bring back an experienced yet young pitching staff. The 2019 season will come down to our ability for play clean defense and generate runs. We are confident in our depth of arms on the mound, and feel like we have multiple arms that can give us a chance to win any game.”
Osbourn Park Yellow Jackets
Head Coach: Jack Ferrick, 7th year (72-50); 8th year overall (72-68)
2018 Record: 11-10 overall, 5-3 district
Key Losses: 3B Jacob Shulman; OF Josh Brown; 2B Pedro Mendez; OF Justice Beauvais
Key Returners: Jr. OF Shane Saunders; Jr. RHP/1B Cameron Mozingo-Morales; Sr. C Mario Duarte; Jr. 1B Jack Braley; Jr. SS Jed Barrett; So. RHP Liam Gannon
College Bound: Fr. C Mason Balsis (Virginia); Fr. C A.J. Shepard
Coach’s Comments: Did not respond to multiple requests for team info and comment.
Head Coach: Andrew Haden, 3rd year (14-30)
2018 Record: 5-17 overall, 2-6 district
Key Losses: RHP/OF Brandon Lee; C Cameron Lane; RHP/OF Alex Veliz
Key Returners: So. 1B/OF/LHP Alex Brown; Sr. 2B Chris Barragan; So. SS Gabriel Villani; Sr. 3B Cole Reddington; So. 2B D.J. Muirhead
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “With a core of young talent, we’re looking to build and compete in the Cedar Run District. With the right mindset and senior leadership, we can make some noise this season. Six defensive starters return from the 2018 team.”
Stonewall Jackson Raiders
Head Coach: John Miller, 1st year (0-0)
2018 Record: 2-17 overall, 0-8 district
Key Losses: OF Jeremy Rodriguez
Key Returners: Jr. OF Ronaldo Pulinario; Jr. OF Eric Sledge; Jr. 2B Steven Thorne; Jr. RHP/SS Mark Klein; Sr. 3B Mitchell Breeding; Jr. 1B/RHP Ryan Costello
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “With eight returning players with starting experience, this promises to be an improved season for the Raiders. Hopefully, the new coaching staff can re-energize an experienced but still young team.”
Photos of Battlefield’s Zach Agnos and Patriot’s Riley Eikhoff by Fred Ingham