Rams baseball team looking for pieces to fall into place

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Fri., Apr. 6, 2012
Chris Watts looks on as Evan Caine scores the Rockville Rams' first run of the 2012 season vs. Bristol Eastern on April 4. Photos by Steve Smith.
Chris Watts looks on as Evan Caine scores the Rockville Rams' first run of the 2012 season vs. Bristol Eastern on April 4. Photos by Steve Smith.

Art Wheelock just began his 35th season as coach of the Rockville High School varsity baseball team. Even with that wealth of experience, he said this year's team has such a mixed bag of players that the overall picture of the team's season won't come together until it happens.

“We're getting over a couple of injuries, and we don't have a lot of depth, pitching-wise,” Wheelock said, before the Rams' opening day game vs. Bristol Eastern. “You never know what's going to pop up during the season. I don't know what to expect. We're going to have to have some young kids step up.”

This year's team is mostly anchored by juniors and sophomores, and there are some seniors in the mix who haven't played varsity before. “You're looking at in inexperienced, experienced team,” Wheelock said.

Junior Kurt Annelli, who had 10 appearances last year, is the team's ace, but he is just recovering from an ankle injury. Annelli was roughed up in the first inning by Bristol Eastern (for nine runs) but then maturely settled down and held them to just three more before exiting the game in the fourth. He also contributed two hits and a run scored.

Senior Rami Jadallah will also see some time on the hill.

“He had a couple of nice games last year,” Wheelock said.

Despite the 18-2 loss to the Lancers, Wheelock said the team played well in its four pre-season scrimmages, and that has him feeling optimistic. His expectations are nothing beyond looking for effort from his squad.

“That's all I ever ask,” he said. “I just look for them to compete and put themselves in a position to win, because you never know what can happen.”

Wheelock added that the team will be using a “small-ball” strategy this year.

“Bunting, hit-and-run, and that kind of stuff,” Wheelock said, “because we don't have the person who’s going to come up and hit that three-run homer. If we can just score a run an inning, we'll be fine.”

With the outfield being totally new (for the first game, it was two seniors, including one who did not play last year, and a sophomore), most of the team's experienced players are in the infield.

“I'm hoping our infield is solid,” Wheelock said. “We do have some guys playing different positions than last year, but a ground ball is a ground ball.”

The Rams host E.O. Smith at Henry Park on April 11, and then travel to East Hartford on April 13. For a complete schedule, visit www.casciac.org.

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