Notebook: Pitching staff delivering for Hilliard Bradley Jaguars baseball team

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Carter Hanson and Bradley have been attempting to boost the team's production at the plate. "We started slow, but now we’re getting runners on and not leaving as many on base," coach Xander Uxley said.

Steady pitching has helped an inexperienced Hilliard Bradley baseball team stay afloat.

The pitching staff had a 3.52 ERA through 12 games for the Jaguars, who were 5-8 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Olentangy Liberty on April 23.

“We have four pitchers doing well for us,” first-year coach Xander Uxley said. “We have a team ERA that’s pretty low considering our pitchers had thrown no varsity innings before this season.”

Max Vosters was 1-3 but had a 2.04 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 10 walks in 24 innings. Mason Koons was 2-0 with a 2.88 ERA, 16 strikeouts and five walks in 17 innings. Ben Duncan was 0-1 with a 4.08 ERA, 19 strikeouts and 11 walks in 12 innings. Carter Hanson was 1-3 with a 4.59 ERA, six strikeouts and seven walks in 10 2/3 innings.

“Our pitching coach, Joe Pourier, is calling the games, and he’s mixing in pitches that aren’t necessarily thrown in certain counts,” Uxley said. “We do a really good job of mixing up pitches.

“We also let our pitchers know that they have a defense behind them. We’re not going to blow people out from the mound, so we have to pitch to contact. They’re getting better at that.”

The Jaguars’ offense has been led by Dylan Gray, who had a .622 batting average, one home run, 10 RBI, eight runs, seven doubles and a .674 on-base percentage.

Koons was hitting .375 with one homer, six RBI and 13 runs, and Hanson was batting .297 with eight RBI and five runs.

“Our offense is definitely picking up,” Uxley said. “We had good numbers during our scrimmages, but it wasn’t against the kind of pitching we’ve seen in the league. We started slow, but now we’re getting runners on and not leaving as many on base. We’ve seen a lot better approaches at the plate and hitting better with two-strike counts.

“There have been a lot of improvements in the last week and a half. Instead of just swinging, the guys have started to work the count and have been adding more and more pitches to the (opposing) starters.”

Uxley said his players also have shown an improvement in mental toughness.

“Errors were killing us with the infielders booting the ball left and right, but that’s changing,” he said. “I’ve seen the mentality of the guys learning the situations and knowing what to do with the ball. We’re making more routine plays, but we’re having some problems with some of the more difficult plays."

•Brendan Moody was taking his decision to leave the Darby wrestling program well until he had to tell his athletes.

After one season as an assistant coach and the last 12 leading the program, Moody told his team April 20 that he was stepping down because his work duties made it nearly impossible for him to devote the time the athletes deserved.

“It definitely feels like a new chapter,” he said. “I talked to John Riggs, my former head (wrestling) coach at Darby and now the head coach at Bradley, and my dad (longtime wrestling official and Bradley softball coach Kevin Moody) about my decision April 16. I was OK with that.

“I told (Darby athletics director) Mr. (Chris) Ludban on (April 19) and then had a Zoom call with the guys on the team on (April 20). That’s when it hit me. It was tough telling them.”

Ludban said Moody helped build one of the area’s top programs.

“Coach Moody has been the foundation of our wrestling program for the past 12 years,” Ludban said. “Brendan’s leadership, his passion for students and his grit for the Hilliard Darby wrestling program are going to be missed.”

Moody is an account manager with Gillmann Services, a construction staffing company. He said it had become increasingly difficult to juggle work duties, time with family and leading the wrestling program.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of years,” said Moody, a 2002 Darby graduate who wrestled at Kent State. “I was searching for every single way with my work schedule and family life, but I couldn’t find a way to coach the team the way it deserves.

“This past year we had to have workouts in six separate pods and then (Darby was) the host for the (Division I) district and state tournaments. (The) COVID(-19 coronavirus pandemic) actually gave me a little flexibility at work, but I’m not sure I’ll have that going ahead. If I can’t give 100 percent (to coaching), it’s not fair to the kids.”

Moody said his top assistant for 12 seasons, Matt Burgei, will handle offseason training until a replacement is hired. 

Darby had its first state champion this winter, with senior Bradley Weaver capturing the Division I heavyweight title.

—Scott Hennen

Blake Pettit and Davidson were 8-4 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Dublin Coffman on April 23. The Wildcats beat the host Shamrocks 10-8 on April 22.

•The Davidson baseball team hopes for a strong finish to the regular season as it prepares for the Division I district tournament, which begins May 17. 

The Wildcats were 8-4 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Dublin Coffman on April 23. They beat the host Shamrocks 10-8 on April 22. 

“I feel like we’re getting better each game and continuing to improve offensively and beginning to play together,” coach Justin Swallie said. “The guys are learning how to compete and play at the varsity level despite the lack of experience coming into the season. Our goal is to continue to bring energy each day and progress towards our goals of playing at a high level.” 

Through 11 games, Nicolas Vertikoff was batting .429, followed by Cam Colman (.405), Kevin Roberts (.394), Blake Pettit (.368), Kyle Pepera (.364), Brady Boltinghouse (.346) and Austin Lippolis (.333). 

Colman led the team in hits (15) and RBI (9). 

On the mound, Mitchell Steele was 2-2 with 13 strikeouts. 

—Frank DiRenna

•Jonah Gilbert has led the Bradley boys volleyball team, which was 7-1 overall and 6-1 in the OCC-Central after defeating Upper Arlington 24-11, 25-18, 25-16 on April 22.

Through six matches, the senior outside hitter led with 190 kills (8.6 per game) and a .476 hitting percentage. He had 62 digs (2.8 per game), 17 aces and 20 blocks.

Senior outside hitter Jin Tam led with 230 assists (10.4 per game) and also had 20 digs and eight aces. Junior libero J.J. Moine had a team-high 89 digs along with four aces.

—Scott Hennen

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