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2020 BASEBALL PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules
Denmark
Denmark players celebrate last season during the Danes’ playoff series agianst St. Pius X Catholic. File photo

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Forsyth Central's A.J. Fiechter bumps helmets with teammate Ryan Gamble during a state playoff game against South Gwinnett on April 24, 2019 at Forsyth Central High School. - photo by Ian Frazer
Forsyth Central

Coach: Kevin McCollum, 12th season

Last season: 18-11

Key returners: Ryan Gamble, Will Miller, AJ Fiechter, Will Robbins, Will Nelms, Jack Carnes, Nick Holbrook.

Key newcomers: None

Outlook: Forsyth Central lost two starting pitchers from last year (Mitchell Gross, Jacob Ryan), so the Bulldogs will be eager to see what they have on the mound. Head coach Kevin McCollum believes the team’s strength is its defense, and if his team finds a way to scratch across a handful of runs, the Bulldogs should be competitive. Senior Ryan Gamble sported an impressive 1.69 ERA last year for Central, and junior AJ Fiechter hit .337 while striking out just six times.

 Denmark

Coach: David Smart, second season

Last season: 21-19

Key returners: Dalton Hansard, Jack Kream, Carson Russell, Trevor Bryk, Logan DeLong, Matt Cassandra, JJ Corr, Nic Ferrer, Sammy Leis, Smaran Ramanathan, Drew Clare, Gray Wilson

Key newcomers: Dillion Dankowski, Francesco Cappocci, Aiden Whillock

Outlook: Denmark didn’t have a single senior on its senior during last year’s state championship runner-up team. Even so, the Danes play in a juggernaut region and must navigate around the likes of Blessed Trinity and Marist – both established powers. Matthew Cassandra, Logan Delong, Jack Kream and Dalton Hansard have all signed to play Division II baseball at Georgia College and State University, giving the Danes a solid nucleus. Also returning is sophomore Drew Clare, who impressed as a freshman, compiling a 1.69 ERA.

 

Braden Bamburowski

Lambert

Coach: Rick Howard, fifth season

Last season: 9-24

Key returners: Garrett Hollenbeck, Will Hensley, Jack Fergusson, Daniel Fischer, Reid Howard, Jimmy Larson, Braden Bamburowski, Richard Ferrer-Westrop, Parker Brosius.

Key newcomers: Will Nelson

Outlook: Lambert returns a couple of All-County selections from last year’s nine-win team in junior Braden Bamburowski and Garrett Hollenbeck. Bamburowski, a three-sport athlete, sported a 3.65 ERA in 2019, striking out 38 batters in 37 1/3 innings. Hollenback was solid behind the plate, batting .311 with nine doubles and three home runs. The Longhorns must fill the hole left in their lineup by Jonathan Hemings, who hit .345 last year with four home runs.

 

North Forsyth

Coach: Jim Cahill, 18th season

Last season: 18-14

Key returners: Anthony DiMola, Garrett Staton, Miles Hartsfield, Kaiden Ellis, Garrett Sagro, Jess Ackerman, Brett Barfield, Justice Bailey, Noah Gilbert, Michael Sills, Holton Payne, Tyler Triche, Baylor Homesley, Bennett Helms, Ty Morrison, Sam Gore.

Key newcomers: Kason Engert

Outlook: North Forsyth has a strong core of pitchers this season, led by reigning Forsyth County Pitcher of the Year Anthony DiMola, a Georgia Southern signee. DiMola sported a 1.41 ERA last year, striking out 84 batters through 64 2/3 innings. The Raiders also have leadership in the field, as seniors Miles Hartsfield and Garrett Staton also return. Hartsfield hit .288 last year with 12 doubles, three home runs and a team-high 16 walks, while Staton finished with a .354 batting average, socking two home runs and a triple.

 

 

Pinecrest Academy

Coach: Heath Kennedy, second season

Last season: 15-12

Key returners: Jay Sorohan, Caleb Bohn, Sawyer Huffstetler, Mason Carter, Connor Atimin, Connor Ensman, Will Howell, Joey Kiernan, Nick Wilkinson, Chase Darwin, Sam Mauldin, Jay Black, Joshua Calupca.

Key newcomers: Tripp Hochman, Estes Contreras, Matthew Mapes

Outlook: Pinecrest Academy head coach Heath Kennedy identifies the team’s pitching as an immediate focal point. The Paladins must replace Patrick O’Rourke, who signed with Berry College after posting a 1.54 ERA in 68 innings as a senior at Pinecrest. But senior Caleb Bohn will return, as will seniors Jay Sorohan and Mason Carter. Bohn slugged four home runs and hit .462 in 2019, while Sorohan – a Kennesaw State signee – hit .325 and stole 24 bases. Carter is also a threat on the basepaths, swiping 20 steals to go with a .395 batting average.

 

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The South Forsyth dugout celebrates after the War Eagles' Gehrig Frei hit a double during South's game against North Forsyth on April 17, 2019 at South Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

South Forsyth

Coach: Russ Bayer, 12th season

Last season: 13-16

Key returners: Peyton Rawlins, Gehrig Frei, Max Henry, Brennan Hudson, Chris Dougherty, Jack D’Amico, Conor Finegan, Josh Green, Ryan Becker, Andrew Kightlinger.

Key newcomers: Addison Pashall, Tyler Nelson, Jacob Bateman, Camden Payne, Brandon Clemente, Evan Thompson.

Outlook: South Forsyth head coach Russ Bayer is hoping the War Eagles can be a little less snake bitten in 2020. South Forsyth lost 16 games last season, but Bayer chalks many of those losses to playing top competition – the War Eagles played in two national invitationals. Bayer said the strength of his team is its defense. Junior Gehrig Frei returns after starting at shortstop as a sophomore. Sophomore Brennan Hudson will man first base, while Max Henry is penciled in as the team’s second baseman. However, the biggest hole will be replacing current Mississippi State Bulldogs pitcher Landon Sims, who was the team’s ace on the mound and the most productive batter at the plate.

 

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West Forsyth's Wyatt Crowell takes a swing during the Wolverines' game against Gainesville on March 6, 2019 at West Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

West Forsyth

Coach: Mike Pruitt, 10th season

Last season: 11-18

Key returners: Wyatt Crowell, Barrett Roland, Blake Whitfield, Drew Southern, Kyle Peterson.

Key newcomers: None

Outlook: West Forsyth is bolstered by returning Forsyth County News Player of the Year Wyatt Crowell, a Florida State signee. Crowell, who signed as a pitcher, had a massive junior season at the plate, batting .414. The Wolverines will look to improve on their 3-12 region record from a year ago.