PERU — John Bellino may not be able to get his St. Bede Bruins baseball team outdoors to practice, but at least he knows what he’s got coming back this spring with a cast of experienced players.
He has nine seniors back in camp and that’s a good thing, because he has just one junior and a sophomore to go with them.
“We only have one junior. There was only three of them last year (as sophomores). One left and one isn’t coming out. I can’t make anymore,” Bellino said with a laugh.
Having so many seniors is a little unusual said the longtime Bruins’ coach.
“We (usually) don’t have a lot of seniors. We have like four or five seniors who make it to this end, and sometimes, that’s good and sometimes that’s bad,” Bellino said. “I think these guys like to play baseball, so they’ll stay around all year even though they may not be in school come May when regional times comes. Sometimes you worry about losing your seniors mentally, they’re done and the out the door and you always have some young guys that really are aggressive and are eager to play a lot and that holds things together when May comes around.”
That senior nucleus is a good one, built around seven returning starters, including third-year varsity player Brad Groleau. The lefty swinger and pitcher was the BCR Player of the Year, batting .485 with 42 RBIs while sporting a 1.42 ERA on the mound with a 5-1 record.
Also back in the lineup are outfielders Sam Lucas (.393) and Damin Smith, short stop Bobby Morrow (.375), third baseman Brandon Pietrowski (.314), first baseman Logan Bima (.366), catcher Stephen Ebener and infielder Austin Schwab. The 11-man squad is rounded out by junior first baseman Michael Bellino and sophomore utility player Jack Brady.
The Bruins will have to make up for the loss of last year’s No. 1-2 pitchers in Adam Burgess and Ronnie Mudge. The pitching staff will be built around Groleau, Pietrowski (4-0, 2.68), Smith (1-0, 3.13), Bima (1.0, 3.42) and Michael Bellino. Bima may also see some time behind the plate, splitting catching duties with Ebener.
Bellino said the Bruins also need someone to provide some pop in the middle of the lineup and looks for Groleau, Pietrowski and Bima to help fill that void.