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April 24, 2013

Ford II baseball team not deterred by slow start

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Ford II baseball team not deterred by slow start
Utica Ford II baseball next hits the field against Warren Mott at 4 p.m. April 24 at Mott. Pictured is Matt Ivan during an April 13 game against Rochester High.

The Utica Ford II baseball team has started slow out of the gate, with a record of 1-8 overall and 0-2 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division at press time.

That isn’t clouding the spirits of Falcons players, though.

Junior pitcher Jordan Luzod said he believes the Falcons, although inexperienced in spots, can improve over the course of the season and peak by the time the state playoffs start May 28.

“I can definitely see us improving throughout the season,” Luzod said. “We had a rocky start last year and did pretty good in the playoffs, so I can see that happening this year.”

Coach Derek Ganfield said the team returns six players from a squad that won a Division 1 district title in 2012. That team entered the post season with a sub-.500 record and won three playoff games to put its record at a game over .500. The Falcons fell to Warren De La Salle in regional semifinal to finish 15-15 overall.

Ganfield said he’s looking at Luzod to lead the team. Luzod, according to Ganfield, pitched one outing this season before suffering an injury, but he is expected to return.

Ganfield added he’s expecting a solid year out of senior outfielder/ pitcher Tyler Amodeo. The skipper said Amodeo and Luzod have the most game experience on the 14-man roster.

“Honestly, that makes me want to work harder. It puts me in a position where I have to work hard on and off the field,” Luzod said.

Also returning from last year’s district championship team are seniors Cody Kaltz, who pitches and plays in the infield, John Jurkiewicz (pitcher/catcher/infield), infielder Austin Greenwald and Trevor Belevek (pitcher/catcher/infield).

“We’ll take it from anyone. There’s not necessarily one person we’ve put everything on. Anyone who steps up performance-wise or verbally, I’m sure all the kids would follow their lead.”

Ganfield said the team’s versatility is its strongpoint. He said players such as Jurkiewicz and Amodeo, who didn’t pitch much in 2012, have already logged a number of innings and performed admirably.

“It’s going to be a shuffling of the deck each time we come out, especially if we can’t get healthy,” Ganfield said. “Like I said, (Luzod) is out. Aaron Wells, one of our starting outfielders, is out. It comes down to staying healthy.”

Ganfield said that Wells is also expected to return, and he added that the team’s pitching will need to improve over the course of the season. He said it’s a positive that players have stepped in and ate up innings, even though they don’t have a lot of game experience on the mound.

“We had guys who ate up a lot of innings last year and who took on a lot of the workload. A lot of the guys now didn’t get all that much experience. It’s a combination of a few things — game time, reps, and just getting acclimated to the program. We’ve got to dig deep individually and as a team and look to compete a little bit more…”

“Once people start getting more comfortable in their spots and we start to work better as a team, then they’ll be better equipped to make the plays we might not have made at the start of the season.”

Ganfield said he sees Romeo High and St. Clair High as the teams to beat in the White. He said every team in the league will provide tough competition, but the experience returned this year at Romeo and St. Clair make them the favorites.

Ford went 5-5 and finished fourth in White last season.

The Falcons next hit the field for a matchup against Warren Mott at 4 p.m. April 24 at Mott.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.