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Prose and Kohn

Sarasota baseball teams fight through early season challenges

Here's what has gone wrong for each team and how they can turn around their seasons.

The Riverview High baseball program shows off their "rally caps" during a 2023 game. Area baseball teams will need to use their rally caps in the second half of the 2024 season after slow starts to the year.
The Riverview High baseball program shows off their "rally caps" during a 2023 game. Area baseball teams will need to use their rally caps in the second half of the 2024 season after slow starts to the year.
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The 2024 baseball season has not been kind to Sarasota-area schools in the early going. 

Sarasota High, Riverview High, Cardinal Mooney High and Booker High all have records under .500 — as of March 19 — after coming into the season with hope. But all is not lost for these squads. There's still a little over a month to change things before the high school playoffs begin on April 29. 

Here's what has gone wrong for each team, and what could still go right. 

Sarasota High (4-9)

What's gone wrong: The Sailors started the season 4-3 before dropping six straight games. The biggest issue has been consistency. 

When the Sailors pitch well, the pitchers have not received a lot of run support, like in a 2-1 loss to Cardinal Mooney High on March 18. Other times the bats do come alive, only to be let down by pitching and defense, like in the team's 10-9 loss to Port Charlotte High in nine innings on March 14. It's a pattern that can become frustrating for players and for coaches. 

What can go right: Playing complementary baseball. 

While no team wants to be as inconsistent as the Sailors have been, they have also shown that they have talent in both facets of the game. 

If the team can put good offensive and pitching performances together instead of keeping them separate, they can string together wins. 

At the plate, senior Juan Perez leads the way with a .500 batting average. On the mound, junior Aidan Young holds a 2.14 ERA in 16.1 innings; sophomore Cesar Garmendia has a 1.91 ERA in 11 innings; and junior Luke Verwey has a 2.03 ERA in 10.1 innings. 

All of that seems to say the Sailors can find success. They simply have to package it together. 

Riverview High (2-7)

What's gone wrong: The Rams started the season with four strong offensive performances, scoring four or more runs in each game and going 2-2, but since then have been scuffling at the plate: They have scored two runs or less in five-straight games, all losses. 

The Rams are hitting .206 as a team and have yet to hit a home run, according to MaxPreps statistics. That makes it tough to win games at this level, especially when one defensive mistake can lead to a run or two on its own. 

What can go right: All it takes is one game to break a team out of a slump. 

If it is going to happen for Riverview, it will likely come from players reverting to their 2023 form, as several Rams have shown heaps of talent at the plate. Junior Andrew Rhymestine is hitting .217 in 2024, but he hit .314 last season. 

Junior Caden Sladek is hitting .211 in 2024, but hit .293 last season. If these players (and others) can unlock their rhythm, and senior Cooper Backman (.379 in 2024) continues to hit well, the Rams have a chance to make a run. 

In the meantime, the Rams' pitching can keep things close: senior Will St. Onge (2.62 ERA) and junior Morgan Peggs (1.11 ERA) have been dealing on the mound. 

Cardinal Mooney High (4-5-1)

What's gone wrong: Like Sarasota, the Cardinal Mooney baseball team has struggled with consistency, though instead of having good offense and good pitching taking turns, the Cougars' inconsistency has been more general. 

Take the team's games on March 5 and 7 against Palmetto High (4-6) and Bradenton Christian School (7-5): The Cougars lost 7-1 to Palmetto, then beat Bradenton Christian 8-1. 

What can go right: When the Cougars play their best, they can hang with a lot of teams. The Cougars have six players hitting .280 or better, led by senior Joey Siefert at .323, and they have a 2.70 ERA as a team. One thing that could help shore up the team: better defense. 

The Cougars have allowed 52 runs this season, but only 27 have been earned runs, according to MaxPreps statistics. That stems from 32 team errors, or 3.2 errors per game. Cut that number down, and the Cougars have the talent to win games. 

Booker High (1-5)

What's gone wrong: While the Tornadoes have not hit particularly well, the biggest problem has been pitching. 

Booker has allowed 71 runs in six games, including a 19-1 home loss to Tennessee-based Loudon High on March 11. It is difficult for any team to win when it has to score double-digit runs in order to compete. 

What can go right: The Tornadoes are not without the ability to hit. In fact, the team's season started with a 25-6 win over Gibbs High, so Booker has shown the ability to put big numbers on the board. 

But it has not done so with regularity: The team has scored just seven runs in its last five games. If the Tornadoes can get back to scoring, it can at least make games competitive. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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