LEBANON — The Lebanon High School baseball team spent much of the 2018 season in a tussle with Northmont and Miamisburg that led to a three-way tie for second place in the Greater Western Ohio Conference National West Division, three games behind Springboro.
Lebanon coach Larry Price expects more of the same this season, which is scheduled to start for the Warriors on March 25 with a 5 p.m. game at Butler.
“Springboro and Miamisburg and Lebanon should battle for the league championship,” Price said.
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Price believes Lebanon is well-armed for the challenge. The Warriors roster includes a deep, experienced pitching staff led by senior right-handed pitcher-outfielder Trevor Richmond, who was 2-1 with a 1.62 earned run average in a team-high 10 appearances and finished second on the team with a .351 batting average in 20 games last season, and senior left-handed pitcher-outfielder Noah Frankenburg, who was 4-0 with a 0.56 ERA in seven appearances last year.
Joining Frankenburg and Richmond on the pitching staff are senior right-handed outfielder-pitcher Drew Cooper, senior right-handed pitcher-third baseman Jackson Palcic and senior left-handed pitcher-first baseman Bo Wilson. Palcic was 2-0 with a 2.69 ERA in seven appearances last season. Wilson was 2-2 with a 2.02 ERA, also in seven games. Cooper pitched in five games and finished with a 4.60 ERA.
Price is counting on junior shortstop Luke Arnold to anchor the infield after hitting .319 in 22 games last year. He’s also counting on contributions from senior second baseman Austin Harrison and senior outfielder-first baseman Kody O’Connor.
“As you can see, this is a veteran team with five returning starting pitchers,” Price said.
Senior Matt Belongia and junior Jack Kletzly are newcomers who will handle the catching duties, while senior Nate Coffee could challenge Harrison at second base. Sophomore Connor Smith should fortify the pitching staff after making three varsity appearances last season. Price lists two more sophomores, third baseman-pitcher Brad Beyersdoerf and outfielder-pitcher Zach Weber, as “possible breakthroughs.”
Price and the Warriors must find a way to make up for the loss of several top hitters from last year’s team, which went 15-10 overall and 6-5 in the GWOC and beat Franklin 3-0 in the first round of the Division I tournament before being walloped 17-7 by eventual regional-champion Mason.
A.J. Fritz led that LHS team with a .426 batting average, 26 runs batted in and 29 hits. Tyler Inloes had 25 hits and 17 RBIs and was third with a .342 batting average, while Cole Perduk was third with 21 hits and 13 RBIs and Jimmy Myers fourth with 17 hits and a .340 average. That’s four of the top five hitters from last season lost to graduation.
“Our strengths are pitching and defense,” Price reported. “Our weakness is hitting.”
Lebanon also is scheduled to play Frankfort Adena at Chillicothe Paints Stadium at 7 p.m. on March 27 before its home opener against nonconference opponent Talawanda at 5 p.m. on March 29.
“Our nonleague schedule is difficult with (Greater Miami Conference) and (Greater Catholic League) teams on the schedule,” Price said. “We will be playing at some nice venues, including Xavier, (the University of Cincinnati’s Marge Schott Stadium), Florence Freedom (UC Health Stadium), Prasco Park, Dayton Dragons Fifth Third Field and Chillicothe Paints Stadium.”
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