Veteran coach takes over helm of Warriors

Published Apr 4, 2018 at 4:00pm

CLINTON — The Clinton Warriors baseball team is looking to turn around a program that won three games last year, and first-year head coach Rocco Bouse said the team has the pitching to compete.

Bouse has been coaching baseball for 18 years, including 2006 as head coach of the Hamilton College team. The former hitting and infield instructor with the Helmuth-Ingalls American Legion team is also taking the helm there for the first time later this year. He owns the Utica Hurricanes travel baseball club, currently a 13-U program. He also co-owns the Mohawk Valley Baseball Academy. He is a graduate of Waterville High School.

The Warriors finished 3-14 overall last year. This will be a whole new ballgame, Bouse said.

The team is scheduled to open its season on April 7 at Whitesboro in an 11 a.m. start. Bouse said a mid-April start is more likely based on the snow and weather.

“I’m excited about our pitching. We’re returning some pitchers.” Two left-handed sophomores — Andrew Krom and Alex Mancuso — should make the starting rotation after being on the junior varsity squad last year. Both have shown increased velocity, he noted. Junior Jandre Garcia could be the team’s number one starter, and as a middle infielder Bouse said he’s the best all-around player on the team. Joel Cleveland, a sophomore, will also be in the starting rotation, as will senior Henry Gardner.

Josh Wilcox, also a sophomore, is the hardest thrower on the team, and when he’s not on the mound also plays catcher and first base. He returns to the varsity this season to anchor the middle of the lineup.

Tanner Deveans, a sophomore, returns for his second year on varsity and will be the starting catcher. A quarterback on the school’s football team, Bouse noted his arm strength.

Brady Dobrzenski is recovering from surgery so he will start the year at designated hitter. The power hitter is a junior who played on the varsity last year. When healthy he is a top pitcher and shortstop, the coach said.

Senior Jackson Phillips, who led team in average last season, will be at the top of the batting order and will be in the outfield.

Tony Bonfardeci will play all over the infield his senior year.

Two freshmen will compete for starting roles: second baseman Luke Bouse and right fielder Kole Davignon. Both are up from JV and are the team’s only freshmen. Both can also pitch, Bouse noted, and are both speedy lefty hitters. He called them “very high IQ players who will certainly contribute day one to the team.”

The three seniors are the team’s captains: Bonfardeci, Gardner and Phillips.

Offensively, the coach said, Clinton will have “The best of both worlds. Half a dozen kids who can put the ball deep in the alleys and five or six kids who can fly, who can hit for average. We’re going to bunt-and-run, we’re going to steal.”

The team’s primary goal is simple: “Winning the Center State Conference. Every kid knows why they’re here. We’re not here to win four games, we’re here to win the conference. Anything less would be a disappointment.” He said the toughest teams on the conference schedule are Adirondack and Holland Patent, the teams that shared the conference title last year.