Pacers looking for smoother ride in 2023


Last season was a bit bumpy for the Delaware Hayes baseball team, but coach Dave Meikrantz expects a smoother ride this spring.

“We finished 8-15 last season, which was very frustrating for our tight-knit group of seniors,” he said. “I thought our three biggest weaknesses as a program were lack of grit, the inability to defend the bunt and inconsistency from the bullpen. Overall, I’d expect to see a much different team in all three aspects this year.”

The Pacers are still inexperienced in some spots, but have key players back in key roles.

Juniors Bryden Decaminada and Colin Milligan will provide a one-two punch on the mound and in the middle of the order, Meikrantz said. Others expected to make noise include juniors Preston Simon, James Bowman and seniors Dalton Allen, Kaden Curran and Kaden Gannon.

“Our strengths should be starting pitching since we return Bryden and Colin and have a few guys battling for those third and fourth spots in the rotation,” the coach said. “Last season, Preston really came on late, and has had a huge offseason. He should provide some pop in the middle of the lineup while primarily playing first base.

“James came up last year and immediately experienced success. He will give us some quality innings on the mound and can play anywhere defensively. Dalton should be our rock behind the plate, Kaden Curran will give us experience on the mound and in the outfield and Kaden Gannon will provide big power in the outfield/designated hitter spot.”

Newcomers expected to contribute right away include freshmen Lucas Flack (catcher/infield/pitcher), Landon Green (infield/pitcher), Caleb Rowe (outfield/pitcher) and Tank Tompkins (outfield/pitcher). Sophomore Ryan Teegardin will also contribute in the outfield.

“Our biggest weakness will stem from our youth and lack of experience,” Meikrantz said. “Regulating the highs and lows from our young guys will be a constant battle, but our goals are not centered around wins and losses, but more on what we can control day-to-day and growing as players and a team.

“Our goals are to play the game with passion and for each other, not blow any bunt coverages or missed assignments and fight until the end of every game … all things we can control.”

The Pacers open the season March 25 against visiting Thomas Worthington, with the mayor of Delaware set to throw out the first pitch at 12 p.m. They’ll open league play April 10 against Big Walnut.

“Our league this year has quite a few quality teams,” Meikrantz said. “It’s hard to pinpoint who is the team to beat, but you can’t ignore the great seasons from Canal Winchester and Westerville North last year.”

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