Young CR baseball team aims to improve

Caesar Rodney outfielder Quintin Ivy, above, who’s headed to George Washington University in the fall, was a first-team All-State selection last year. He and outfielder Thomas Gallucci are the Riders’ two full-time returning starters. (Delaware State News file photo)

Caesar Rodney outfielder Quintin Ivy, above, who’s headed to George Washington University in the fall, was a first-team All-State selection last year. He and outfielder Thomas Gallucci are the Riders’ two full-time returning starters. (Delaware State News file photo)

CAMDEN — Quintin Ivy can remember what it was like when he was a youngster trying to play varsity baseball for the first time.

Well, he remembers some of it anyway.

“Oh, it was a blur,” the Caesar Rodney High outfielder said with a smile. “Playing at this level was fast.

“It took a couple games. Then you took your deep breath and you slowed down and got in the swing of things.”

The biggest issue for the Riders, who open the season with a 4:15 p.m. game today at Milford, is that they have a lot of young players adjusting to playing varsity ball this season.

CR has only four seniors on a roster that also includes five sophomores.

So while coach Rich Szvitich believes he has some talent to work with, he also knows there might be some growing pains this spring.

“That’s the big question,” said Szvitch. “We played really well Saturday against Hodgson in our first scrimmage. But then, in the second game against Lake Forest, I don’t think we did as good a job.

“So I’m worried that one day we’re going to be stars and the next day we’re going to be the ‘Bad News Bears.’ You know it’s going to come. It’s just, hopefully, all of them don’t have a bad day on the same day.”

A year ago, the Riders were a pretty good team by the end of the season.

They finished the spring on a five-game winning streak, including a pair of victories over squads that made the DIAA state tournament. The problem was, CR lost seven of nine games just before that streak.

So the Riders went only 10-8, missing the state tourney for the first time since 2010.

“It was exciting,” senior outfielder Thomas Gallucci said about the five-game winning streak. “It was just a shame we couldn’t get it clicking earlier.

“I just learned that you really can’t slack off. You have to go right from the get-go. You’ve got to go really hard.”

“We started coming together,” said Ivy. “Everything that we worked on just meshed. It was too little, too late but we came together. We lost a lot of games by little margins.”

Ivy, who’s headed to George Washington University in the fall, ended up as a first-team All-State selection. He and Gallucci are the two full-time returning starters for CR.

The Riders other two seniors are pitcher/infielder Carlton Voak and first baseman Robert Williams. Also, junior Noah DeAtley was a starting pitcher last spring.

DeAtley is expected to start the opener today against Milford. CR’s other top pitchers include sophomores Thomas Pomatto and Steven Platt as well as Voak.

Szvitich says many of the Riders’ five sophomores will end up seeing playing time. There’s some big differences between playing at the JV and varsity levels.

“They know they can’t throw the ball by anybody like they could on JV,” said Szvitich. “So they’re going to have to learn how to pitch a little bit better. They can’t make the throwing mistakes — they can’t give the extra outs because that’s the thing that’s really going to kill us.

“They’re just awesome kids,” he added. “Academically, personality-wise — they just all get along. Most of the young kids have been in the program. So they kind of understand everything that’s going on, they just haven’t had that experience.”

Gallucci and Ivy both say they like the talent they see in the underclassmen. But they also know, given CR’s youth, people outside the program aren’t going to expect much from the Riders this spring.

They’d love to prove them wrong.

“There’s a lot heart, a lot of working hard,” said Gallucci. “We’re looking pretty good. And, day by day, we’re getting better. I always like being the underdog because there’s no pressure on you.”

“I’ve been seeing that, a lot of people are looking past us,” said Ivy. “I don’t like it. (But) we can’t dig a hole because we’re young. We’ve got to always stay ahead.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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