With the regular season now in the rear-view, the Appoquinimink Jaguars look ahead to the DIAA Baseball State Tournament as the only undefeated team in the state.
At the start of the year, Appo had to adjust to a new voice leading the way in first-year head coach Mike Torres. Now, after a full regular season as the team’s coach, Torres says what impressed him most in the consistency of the team in all phases of the game.
“All credit to them, they’ve done a phenomenal job staying even keel throughout the season and know that keeping our highs low and our lows high is key to moving forward as the stakes get higher,” Torres said.
After posting a perfect season, the Jags will enter the postseason as one of the favorites to win it all thanks to a dominant pitching staff and an efficient offense.
Appo’s pitching staff, allowed just 20 runs against, the lowest by 17 runs in the entire state.
The staff’s starters have been nearly unhittable, led by Joey Davis (8-0), Mason Keene (6-0) and Aidan Deakins (3-0).
Senior infielder Krew Bouldin was also solid in a spot-start, earning a win to make Appo’s starters also a perfect 16-0.
The staff as a whole has thrown four no-hitters this season; Keene went six strong innings before being relieved by Deakins for a combined no-no in a 16-0 win over Newark, Davis threw a seven-inning no-hitter, striking out 13, in a 4-0 win over St. Elizabeth and in Appo’s very next outing Deakins threw a five-inning no-hitter, striking out six, in a 11-0 win over Delcastle.
In Appo’s final game of the regular season, Davis and Deakins combined to throw a no-hitter, striking out 15 batters total batters, against Woodbridge.
“Developing and maintaining solid defense and a pitching staff that throws strikes is key to not only our team, but any of the top programs in the state,” Torres said. “Our guys have so far lived up to that challenge. Our pitching staff has done a great job putting our offense in a more relaxed position to get the job done at the plate.”
While Appo’s pitchers have taken care of opposing team’s bats, the Jaguars offense has worn out opponent’s pitching.
Appoquinimink finished fourth in the state in runs scored with 155, behind only Friends (166), St. Mark’s (166) and Delmarva Christian (180).
The Jaguars have posted double-digit hits in seven games and of their 152 total hits, 52 have gone for extra bases.
As far as long-balls go, Appo has hit seven home runs this season - Jones leads the team with three including a two-homerun performance against Cape Henlopen, followed by Dermott and Jacob Conover who both have two home runs apiece.
“Since the season started, our offensive philosophy has centered around many concepts but, getting into good counts that force our opponents to throw pitches that our guys can look to drive has been one of the many goals,” Torres said. “It hasn’t been perfect, but our guys have adjusted well in many situations and are still working hard to improve.”
Along with a more than impressive record, the Jaguars have a number of standout victories. Of their 18 wins, Appo has nine wins against teams with winning records.
Battle-tested and confident, the Jaguars will soon turn their attention to the DIAA Baseball state Tournament where they hope to keep their remarkable season going.
“The fact that we’re undefeated at this point was never really a goal or a thought,” Torres said. “Since day one, our foundational goals have centered around being on a weekly basis. Every week we tell our guys that we need to do everything we can to win the week.
“Breaking up the season into mini seasons has been successful thus far. Being undefeated in the regular season would be a bonus, but ultimately our goals as a program are to be undefeated when it counts the most, state tournament time.”