Steve Skammer takes over as senior team manager as part of the coaching changes in the Back Mountain American Legion baseball program this season.
Skammer is relieved to begin with a team experiencing less change than usual among players.
“You never know what your seniors are going to do if they have just graduated and are not going to play baseball in college,” said Skammer, who has two-thirds of the players back for the team’s 18-man roster. “And, you never know what your college guys are going to do.
“We were lucky enough to get all four of our college players back.”
This is the last season that Legion baseball will allow players who have already been out of high school for a year to play as long as they meet the age restrictions.
Greg Petorak, a Dallas graduate who started four games at Ursinus as a freshman, is back to play third base.
Connor Balloun, a Lake-Lehman graduate, is back from Tommy John surgery that prevented him from pitching last season. He pitched in junior varsity action at King’s College this spring.
Catcher Jay Strausser and infielder Dylan Pilger both played at Luzerne County Community College.
After an 0-7 start last season when the pitching staff was hindered by injuries, Back Mountain won more than half its remaining games. This year, the pitching staff appears to be stronger going into the season.
“We didn’t have the pitching depth last year,” said Skammer, who has spent 11 years in the Back Mountain program as a manager of the junior team and coach with the senior team.
Scott Bean, who just finished his senior year at Lake-Lehman, is one of two Division I recruits on the Back Mountain roster. He is headed to Maryland-Eastern Shore as a pitcher.
Nigel Stearns, a Niagara recruit from Dallas, is an outfielder who has also done some pitching in the high school season.
“It’s unusual that we have a lot of kids this year that either have played in college or are going to,” Skammer said.
Cody Paraschak, a catcher from Lake-Lehman, is headed to Lackawanna College.
C.J. Carey, who just finished his junior season at Lake-Lehman, is back for his third year at shortstop.
Skammer expects Dallas sophomores Lee Eckert and Chad Phillips to add starting pitching depth, joining Balloun and Bean in the rotation.
A.J. Sweppenheiser, an outfielder/pitcher, has returned to the Legion program after not being with the team in recent seasons.
First baseman Aaron Yurko, who has some travel baseball experience, is also back with the team.
Skammer expects contributions from some of the team’s younger players like Christian Wargo, Josh Orlandini, Noah Gorski and Ed Hontz.
Tom Evans remains as the general manager after handling that role and the field manager position for the past 13 seasons.
Brian Gorski, Leo Orlandini and Chris Wargo will serve as coaches with the senior team.
Steve Mathers moves up from Ppep team manager to take over for Orlandini running the junior team.
Anton Kachur is the new prep team manager.
Back Mountain will use Misericordia University’s field as its senior home field for the second straight year. The quality field gives the team a boost with 11 of 18 games at home since some opponents have given up their own home games to play at the college field.
The schedule starts with four home games. After playing Plains Thursday, Back Mountain is home for a doubleheader today against Hazleton and a single game Monday against Wilkes-Barre.
The junior team will play at Dallas High School and the prep team will play at Lake-Lehman.