Host of Talent Returning For Weir Baseball Team
WEIRTON — The 2018 Weir baseball team was one win away from going to the big dance at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, and veteran coach Jason Angle graduated just two players from that team.
That means he has a host of talent returning. The main goal this year is to win a Region One title and be one of the teams in the final four when the state tournament opens in Charleston on June 1.
“We had a younger team last year, and it took a while for some of those inexperienced guys to get accustomed to varsity baseball,” said Angle, whose club had a big second half of the season and finished at .500 with a record of 11-11. “We have depth at pitching this year — more than we’ve had at Weir in a long time — and we have 10 lettermen, many of them returning starters. All of them are a year older and more mature, and they know what it takes to get there (referring to the state tournament).”
Heading the list of returnees are seniors Tyler Komorowski and Reid Hoover, along with junior Elijah Gillette. Komorowski, who was first team all-state a year ago, has earned three letters going into this season and remains the ace of the pitching staff. He had a 1.61 earned run average in 2018.
Gillette led the team in hitting as a sophomore last year with a .443 batting average and earned special honorable mention all-state. Hoover batted .338 and was an honorable mention all-state.
“I have a lot more expectations with this group this year,” said Angle, who lost only Chris Gillette and Ryan Bodrog to graduation. “We have an abundance of speed, and we want to utilize it this year, especially on the bases. While we have high expectations, we have a lot of work to do improving our base running and being smarter as a hitting team. We made some base running mistakes last year that cost us, and we weren’t as patient and selective at the plate as I liked.
“But, I have confidence we’ll do those things this year, and I have confidence in our pitching. I can tell these guys have spent some time on their baseball skills in the offseason, but we have some tweaking to do on some things. A plus is the attitudes of these kids. Regardless of the success they have had, they work hard and continue to get better. That makes my job easier, and these guys are a true joy to be around. They are a together bunch both on and off the field. We have those guys that had success at the plate, but I believe our defense will be solid. We’ll have a veteran at just about every defensive position.”
The other seven letterwinners returning are juniors Drew Curtis, Brodie McUmar, Tanner Mikula, Sebastian Spencer, Cody Tate and Zak Wypasek, along with sophomore Anthony DiMatteis. Add to them senior Nick Paul, who transferred to Weir this year from Madonna and brings with him a .449 batting average and pitching experience.
Angle also has non-letterwinners in Evan Gilbert (a senior infielder), junior Nick D’Amico (a pitcher and infielder) and sophomores Thomas DeVecchis (pitcher/outfielder) and Tyler Starvaggi (pitcher/infielder). Freshman Tyler Kelly, also a pitcher, will be in the mix.
“Kelly is part of a freshman group of 10 players that have impressed me with their talent,” Angle said. “I intend to start them out on our reserve team, but Kelly and some of the others may get into some varsity games depending upon how they do and improve at the jayvee level. With this talented junior class, some very good sophomores and these freshmen, it bodes well for the future of Weir baseball.”
Angle added that he uses a “utility team” philosophy and has found success with it.
“I don’t really list the players as shortstops, second basemen, center fielders, etc.,” he said. “We have infielders and outfielders and pitchers and catchers.”
That philosophy found the Red Riders with multiple starting lineups last year and with a lot of different players stepping up each game.
The middle infielders who Angle will be counting upon are Spencer, Gillette, Curtis, Gilbert, DiMatteis, D’Amico and Starvaggi. Komorowski, Curtis, Tate and Hoover will see most of the action at the infield corners. The outfielders are Paul, Mikula, Wypasek, DeVecchis, DiMatteis, Curtis, McUmar and Spencer. McUmar, who batted an even .300 last year, was the starting catcher and will handle most of the backstop duties this year. The versatile DiMatteis also got some experience behind the plate and in the infield in 2018.
Besides Komorowski, Angle’s pitching staff includes Hoover, Curtis, Tate, Wypasek, DiMatteis, Paul, DiAmico, DeVecchis and Starvaggi.
“We have toughened up our schedule this year with two overnight trips,” Angle said. “We’re scheduled to go to the Eastern Panhandle to play Berkeley Springs on April 5, and Frankfort and Keyser on April 6. Those are three of the teams we see each year in the Region One tournament. Frankfort is the team that eliminated us in the championship game last year.
“We go down state on April 19 and 20 to play Parkersburg South on Friday, and Ravenswood and Ripley Saturday. In addition, we have renewed our competition with Wheeling Park in a doubleheader at Park (Saturday). “
Tanner Werkman and Dave Cowden round out Angle’s coaching staff.