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Baseball Mid-Season Report

Alex Merkle (26) at bat for the Rockets. Photo courtesy of Petra Marino of Friends of RMHS Baseball.
Alex Merkle (’26) at bat for the Rockets. Photo courtesy of Petra Marino of Friends of RMHS Baseball.

The RMHS baseball team is currently 4-9, standing 5th in the Middlesex-Liberty Division. They are hopeful to improve after a difficult first half of the season. 

Strengths So Far 

The Rockets have had incredible star power on the mound. Excitement ran high about the team’s starting rotation at the beginning of the season. Ryan Marino (‘25), coming off an arm injury from last season, started the year well by leading the team to a win in their first game against the Stoneham Spartans, 10-0. He currently leads the team with a 0.68 earned run average, untouchable against anyone in the Middlesex League thus far. 

Mikey Baylis (‘24) has also been an impressive and intriguing piece to the Rockets’ pitching staff. Baylis can pitch as a starter and come into a game for relief, successful in both situations. Most recently, Baylis pitched against the Lexington Minutemen on May 7th, only giving up two earned runs through six innings. 

The rotation rounds out with Ethan LeBovidge (‘25), who had been given praise earlier in the season for his impressive outing against the Belmont Marauders. He currently wields a 2.24 earned run average and has struck out 18 batters across six game appearances.

Starting catcher, Sam Clark (‘26) gave insight on the team’s pitching: “I think our pitching staff has done a very good job. Obviously, we could have some improvement but I think the defense behind us could be a little bit sharper. That will help their confidence a lot…and probably help the endings of a couple games.”

It’s been a little tough, but it’s also a good thing because we’re learning a lot on ways to get better for the following seasons.

— Sam Clark ('26)

The greatest difficulty for the team is keeping tight leads in the late stages of the game. They most recently lost a game against the Lexington Minutemen 2-1 after having a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning. They have lost their last three games by only one run. That is baseball sometimes; however, the team needs to find confidence in clutch moments.  In those situations, players need to stay in the moment, pitch to pitch. The Rockets can be extremely successful if they can slow down the late stages of a game. They have proven to play competitive baseball.

Clark is optimistic that the Rockets can learn from their early challenges. “It’s been a little tough, but it’s also a good thing because we’re learning a lot on ways to get better for the following seasons.” 

Catcher Sam Clark (’26) awaits a pitch versus Stoneham. Photo courtesy of Petra Marino of Friends of RMHS Baseball.

Sophomore Class Breaking Out

One storyline that has emerged for the Rockets is the contributions of members of the sophomore class.

Alex Merkle has certainly shown a lot of promise at the plate, batting at a .357 clip in ten games. When asked about his mental part of the game at the plate, he stated, “When I struggle, it’s when I try to do too much and I try to hit the ball far and I get disconnected from my swing. When I’m successful, I’m thinking to hit the ball the other way and thinking simple.” 

Such awareness at the plate is extremely valuable for a young player like Alex because younger players can try to over perform on a big stage. Awareness like this can generate an influx of success on the field.

Sophomore Nate Vitarisi came up big in the game against Watertown, driving in multiple runs in the win. He is another batter with excellent contact at the plate.  Vitarisi’s classmate Isaac Robinson, the Rockets’ first baseman, has been raking at the plate this season.

The biggest factor generating the underclassmen success is the culture of the clubhouse the coaches and upperclassmen players provide. Alex Merkle, the starting center fielder, said, “There’s a good environment on the team. The seniors and juniors make it a lot easier on [the sophomores]. We have good chemistry so it’s easy for us to fit in with the team.” The upperclassmen of the team have done an excellent job setting up the sophomore players for success.

The Rockets have two home games this week, hosting Winchester on Monday, May 13 and Woburn on Thursday, May 16. 

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  • M

    Matt FicheraMay 27, 2024 at 9:42 am

    Great write up!! Thanks

  • S

    Sarah MerkleMay 27, 2024 at 7:42 am

    Great article!!!!

  • W

    Wendy robinsonMay 26, 2024 at 12:30 pm

    Thank you for writing this. Great article!

  • F

    Friends of Reading BaseballMay 26, 2024 at 9:51 am

    Great article Antonio!

  • G

    Gloria Di SerioMay 13, 2024 at 4:25 pm

    Great job with the article Antonio.Bravo!!!Nonna and Nonno.