The Lakewood Lancers (3-8, 1-0) are suffering the slings and arrows of a rebuilding process, but 34-year coach Spud O’Neil says he’s ready for it after a long offseason full of players coming and going out of the program. The 1-6 start is the worst at Lakewood under O’Neil.
“We’ve got a lot of young players learning how to play varsity baseball,” O’Neil said. “This is a good character team and I absolutely love this group. By the end of the year we’ll have this thing going.”
Lakewood only returns starters Carter White and junior Kevin Kolb from the team that went 10-2 in league last year, and only a handful of other players have experience playing at Blair Field.
White will be the key senior leader for the Lancers as the leadoff hitter and center fielder. He had a team-high 36 hits and 23 runs scored last season, and he already has 15 hits in the first 11 games of this season.
Kolb plays left field and has seven hits this season. Last year, he won the starting position as a sophomore and drove in 17 runs with 10 hits. With junior Devon Semper in right field, Lakewood has a very quick and rangy defensive outfield.
On the mound, Lakewood will rely on a pair of left-handed pitchers to lead a capable staff. Sophomore Ricky Tiedemann has a 1.52 ERA, 17 strikeouts and five walks in 23 innings. He has won two of his four starts. Senior Sebastian Irwin has 18 strikeouts and six walks in 24 innings with a 3.21 ERA.
Senior Ryan Ruddell is playing his first season as catcher, and is second on the team with eight hits this season. Last year, he had half has many at bats as players like White and Kolb, but he still produced. Ruddell had a .295 batting average with eight RBIs and a pair of triples in 25 games.