SENECA — The 6-24 record that four returning pitchers combined on for the Seneca varsity baseball team in 2012 is not what has coach Kirk Houchin feeling optimistic.
Two of those returnees — senior righty Brian Bergeson and senior lefty Josh Rohder — had sub-4.00 ERAs, but that is not really what has Houchin excited, either.
The main reason Houchin is looking forward to building his staff around Bergeson, Rohder, senior Brent Bergeson and junior Brandon Pasdertz is that they each worked 34 or more innings during a 7-29 season for the Fighting Irish in 2012.
"We have a lot of experience back with those four," Houchin said. "Another member of this junior class, Austin Applebee, will be in the mix. We have one other pitcher, Ryan Scuetz, back. He struggled at times last year but looks like he's improved a lot since then. But having those four back to lead our pitching staff is definitely a plus."
Brent Bergeson pitched a Seneca-high 43 2/3 innings last season. Though he recorded 48 strikeouts — nearly twice as many as anyone else on the team — he walked 37 and hit six batters, hurting his results.
But Bergeson has shown enough potential that he will have the chance to pitch at Aurora University, to which he gave a verbal commitment last week.
"I feel they have a good baseball program," Bergeson said. "It's a good school, and I know a couple of the guys on the team. One is Drew Gay, who's a good starting pitcher. He had 14 wins last year. I knew a couple of the guys who were on the team last year like Josh Davidson. I get along well with coach (Lane) Stahl. It's a good program."
Bergeson expects to serve as a leader for the Irish staff this season.
"I would say so," he said. "We all have roles, and with the experience I have, hopefully I can help the other guys."
Pasdertz will likely be one of the youngest pitchers to take the mound for the Irish this spring, but this will already be his third season as a varsity pitcher.
Though Pasdertz had a respectable 4.24 ERA last season, he won just twice — which actually tied him for the team lead — in 11 appearances as he worked with inconsistent run support.
"Really, you just have to stay focused on your job," Pasdertz said. "You hope the guys behind you come through, especially on defense. Being a sophomore up on the varsity, all I was worried about was doing my job."
Brian Bergeson's 3.71 ERA was the lowest of any of the nine pitchers Houchin used last season, and he had a 2.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Robder had a 3.98 ERA while handling the staff's second-largest workload, 38 2/3 innings.
"Last year, these guys were young," Houchin said. "With them all being a year older, and with the experience they already have, we're hoping for some improvement, and hopefully they'll do some nice things."