Indians reach City title game in coach’s first season

J. Patrick Eaken

In his first season as Waite baseball coach, Mark Stalker has already gotten his team into the Toledo City League championship.
        The Indians ran into perennial City champion Start at Mercy Field Thursday night, and behind the pitching of Spartan starter Caleb Coyne and closer Robbie Sapp, Waite fell 6-0 to finish as CL runners-up. The Indians are 6-3 in City League games and 8-14 overall.
        Despite the loss, Stalker’s team reached one of the goals that he set in the preseason.
        “I would really like to finish first or second and compete for a City title but our focus is on showing up and working hard every day so we can get better.” Stalker told The Press before the season began.
        Of course, he’s had some help from good players, too, including three seniors, center fielder and pitcher Osvaldo Padilla, first baseman/pitcher Mishawn Quinn and third baseman Michael Quinn.
        “I feel like my players’ experience is one of our strengths. We have quite a few returning players who understand the expectations at this level. I think we have some really good defensive players and hitters,” Stalker said.
        “I think we have to continue to develop our whole team and make sure the best players are getting better and the players who are just joining us can catch up quickly. Pitching and hitting are the biggest points of emphasis to try and build everyone’s confidence in themselves.”
        Padilla, who was a first team All-City selection last year, is batting .220 with 17 runs and eight RBIs. He reached base three times in the City championship, including twice on errors, but all three times was thrown out at second trying to advance, twice in fielder’s choice situations and once he was picked off at first by Start catcher Jake Baumgartner.
        Stalker said Padilla “sets the tone for us offensively and gets on base every way. He plays all over the field for us and has great range and strong arm.”
        Michael Quinn is batting .204 with seven runs and seven RBIs and Mishawn Quinn is batting .250 with 15 runs and 16 RBIs.
        “Michael Quinn is continuing to work hard on and spending a lot of time hitting in the cages,” Stalker said.
        They were among six returning letter winners for Stalker this season, which also includes junior first baseman/catcher/pitcher Arnold Crossno and sophomore shortstop/pitcher Alex Rodriguez.
        Stalker says Rodriguez, at shortstop, “has really good hands and is dedicated to becoming one of the best infielders in the area.”
        “Alex Rodriguez is one of those young players who keeps getting better and we can move in all spots of the lineup. Alex is a hard worker that is continuing to grow and is very coachable,” Stalker continued.
        Crossno, who was second team all-league, is hitting .250 with 15 runs and 16 RBIs. He reached on a walk in the City championship, but was one of three players to get picked off on the base paths.
        “Arnold Crossno led us in RBIs last season and spent a lot of time this off season getting better,” Stalker said. “He does a great job every day behind the plate being a wall and strong arm throwing to any base.”
        Mishawn Quinn and Rodriguez were honorable mention All-City a year ago. Rodriguez is batting .148 with 15 runs and six RBIs this year. Rodriguez and Mitchell McKenzie had Waite’s only hits in the City championship Thursday.
        In addition, second baseman Noah Pfaff is batting .235 with nine runs and five RBIs, left fielder Kyle VanDyne is hitting .182 with two runs and five RBIs and right fielder/designated hitter Matt Broyles is batting .171 with two runs and five RBIs. In the outfield, Stalker has McKenzie, who in center field is “a good outfielder with great speed and starting to pick it up at the plate.” Besides his base hit Thursday, he also reached on a walk.
        Stalker, who also coached at Start and was the head junior varsity coach at Sylvania Southview, had plenty of talent returning, and even though many of his players’ batting numbers are down from last year, the pitching has been strong.
        Padilla is 3-5 on the mound with 35 strikeouts and a 2.64 ERA. He has allowed 44 hits and 16 earned runs in 40.2 innings. Rodriguez is 3-4 with 40 strikeouts and a 3.72 ERA. Rodriguez has given up 45 hits and 22 earned runs in 41.1 innings, and he held Start scoreless in the final 2.1 innings of the City championship, striking out two and allowing two hits.. Mishawn Quinn also contributes on the mound.
        “Mishawn Quinn has good off-speed and has experience pitching from last season,” Stalker said.
        Others contributing to the varsity in the City championship were third baseman Noah Pfaff, second baseman Tristan Layman, left fielder Makye Moore and right fielder Kyle VanDyne. Moore reached twice on walks in the championship but was stranded both times.
        The Spartans were led by the game’s Most Valuable Player, shortstop Jack Zales, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a triple, scoring twice. The Spartans currently have a hold on the City title, defeating Bowsher in a five-inning mercy-ruled junior varsity championship, 10-0, behind 10 hits.


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