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Senior captain second baseman/pitcher Kyle Suraci and the Morgan baseball team were prepared to turn in another solid campaign before concerns about COVID-19 caused the cancellation of the 2020 season. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior shortstop/pitcher Mike Zingarella was slated to be the other half of the Huskies’ double-play duo up the middle this season when not on the mound. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Garret Garbinski showed plenty of promise as a freshman as a good power bat who makes solid contact at the plate. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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The Morgan baseball squad had a solid year in 2019 with a 9-12 overall record that included a trip to the Class S State Tournament. Getting to the postseason was a pretty big accomplishment for the Huskies after they started off with a 1-7 record out of the gate. Morgan went on a run after that winning eight of its final 12 games to reach states. In 2020, the Huskies were looking to make some modest improvements. Even though they had graduated a crop of talented seniors, the Huskies had several skilled players ready to play bigger parts in the team’s success this season.
Head Coach Michael Grant felt that Morgan put together a strong campaign in 2019, especially considering the major mid-season turnaround the Huskies were able to mount. Coach Grant believed that Morgan spent the first half feeling out what lineups worked best, and by the time everyone had their set positions, his team was able to hit the ground running.
“We had a great second half of the season and turned it around pretty good. It was my second year as coach, and that definitely made it easier to get the practices going in the early spring because the kids were used to what I was trying to do,” said Grant. “It took a while to get it sorted and figure out our personnel. When we figured that out, we turned the corner and started winning.”
Coach Grant anticipated that the 2020 season could potentially have been as good if not a little better depending on how quickly every player found their niches on the team.
“We were hopeful to get into the state tournament and be similar to the year before. We felt pretty good about the team we had going into the year,” Grant said. “We thought we had a good pitching staff and would play well defensively. We thought we would do well on the bases. We prided ourselves on running the bases well.”
Coach Grant had a capable senior captain ready to take the reins in second basemen/pitcher Kyle Suraci. Coach Grant knew that Suraci always had sure hands on defense, and he felt the team was in equally sure hands with Suraci as captain.
“Kyle Suraci was going to be our captain. We voted on it as a team,” Grant said. “He was a four year varsity player for us, and he was one of the hardest working guys on the team. He was the best candidate to lead the team, and he was going to play second base and pitch this year.”
Grant felt great about his defense up the middle with Suraci at second and fellow senior Mike Zingarella at shortstop. Zingarella was also going to do double duty on the mound, as well. The Huskies also had junior Ryan Hromadka slated to start at catcher, and he had proven solid both behind—but especially at—the plate.
“Ryan Hromodka was going to be the catcher. He’s coming along really well. He swings the bat well. We thought we’d do well defensively and would be able to manufacture some runs,” Grant said. “Mike Zingarella was one of our other seniors at shortstop. Between Kyle, Mike, Ryan, they were going to be the glue to our defense up the middle. Those were gong to be our core guys.”
Coach Grant also was certain that Morgan had a quality arm in Robbie Zirlis, who had a 1.94 ERA with 26 strike outs his sophomore season.
“We felt pretty good about our starter Robbie Zirlis,” said Grant. “We felt comfortable with him on the mound, and he was going to be our No. 1 starter.”
On offense, the Huskies had the middle of the order pretty well determined between the upperclassmen of Suraci, Zingarella, Hromadka, and junior infielder Ryan Inglis. Morgan also had some talented underclassmen looking to make some meaningful contributions in the batters box with sophomores Garret Garbinski and Brady Fritz.
“Kyle, Ryan Hromadka, Mike, and Garret, those guys were going to be competing to be in the middle of our order,” said Grant. “We were also looking to Ryan Inglis and Brady Fritz. We had some underclassmen that were pretty good in the strike zone and good at moving runners and getting on base.”
Under Coach Grant, the Huskies prided themselves on their running game, and senior Nick Rubino has been one of the best assets Morgan has had to wreak havoc when on base.
“Nick Rubino is lightning rod on the base paths, and he’s really good in the outfield,” Grant said. “He’s a big strong kid that could hit the ball, and hit it pretty well.”
Morgan had a variety of athletic talent heading into the season, in that several of its players also excelled in other sports. Coach Grant believes its a huge asset to have players who aren’t just baseball specialists.
“I firmly agree that most kids should play multiple sports in high school,” Grant said. “There are things you get in other sports that help you in baseball and vice versa. It’s a healthy experience to play multiple sports. We encourage it.”
Coach Grant is disappointed that the Morgan won’t get a chance to take the field in 2020, but he feels especially sorry that his seniors aren’t getting the chance to play what should have been their final season this year. Everyone is trying to make the best of a tough situation though, and the Huskies still found a way to celebrate the senior class’s contributions.
“We were going to start pitchers and catchers, and a couple of days later, it was put off. Then the season was basically canceled,” said Grant. “We didn’t get to get together at all until we recently had our senior night. We showed up in cars took pictures six feet apart. I feel bad for the seniors. You only have one senior year, and to not get to play, that’s a tough thing to go through.”
Looking ahead, Coach Grant knows that next year is going to be a challenge given a shortage of on-field experience, but he’s feels encouraged that his team can get the work in necessary to stay competitive.
“First off, everyone will be in the same boat. We’ll develop at our own pace and in our winter workouts. It’s going to be challenging for everybody,” Grant said. “We’re waiting to see what happens with the summer ball programs. It’s a rough time, and it changes so rapidly. It’s hard. We’re just trying to get them to work out and throw. When the time comes, and we can get after it, that’s what we’ll do.”
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