Randy Belk has never seen anybody like Jacob Bonen-Clark and Jordon Accetta in his 33 years of coaching high school baseball at Charlotte Catholic.Theyre pitchers. And nothing else. Hes used to pitchers who also play shortstop or outfield, who split practice between hitting and fielding and throwing pitches. But not these two. Theyre the first two who came along that thats what they do, is pitch, Belk said. Bonen-Clark and Accetta, both seniors, return on the mound for a Charlotte Catholic team that won the ME-GA 7 3A/4A conference last year and made it to the second round of the playoffs before losing to eventual state champion Weddington 2-1. The Cougars also return five starters in the field and have 11 seniors on the team. With those seniors returning, with 11 seniors and a couple of the new guys filling in ... we think were going to be OK, Belk said. We hope well compete with the good teams in Charlotte. It starts with pitching. Bonen-Clark and Accetta were the top two pitchers for Catholic last year.Bonen-Clark was 8-2 last year with a 2.61 ERA and 71 strikeouts. Accetta was 7-5 with a 3.60 ERA and 65 strikeouts. Those two had outstanding years last year, two that you know you can put on the mound who are going to keep you in the ball game, Belk said. That was certainly something we felt real good about. Belk said neither is the top pitcher. They decide who starts based on matchups or how the pitchers are feeling that week. Theyre one and one, or two and two, whatever you want call them, Belk said. They are both right-handed but have different pitching styles. Bonen-Clark is more of a finesse pitcher, not overpowering batters but picking his spots and mixing up pitches. He upped his velocity during the summer, getting his fastball into the mid-80s, and has good breaking balls and off-speed pitches. Accetta, a Wofford recruit, is a power pitcher. He tries to throw past people with a fastball in the upper 80s. I strike out a lot of people, but I do it in a different way than Jordon does, Bonen-Clark, 18, said. Hes trying to blow everybody away and I just kind of take my spots. They complement each other, especially if one relieves for the other. Batters who get used to facing Bonen-Clark have to adjust to Accettas power, and vice versa. After those two, the Cougars can bring in left-handed junior Ben Brady to make batters adjust again.You can survive with those three, Belk said. Ive survived with two. Bonen-Clark and Accetta focus on pitching in practice. They work together, push each other and trade tips and advice. During practice, instead of hitting and fielding all day long and then at the very end going and throwing a quick bullpen, you can focus the whole practice on arm care and stretching it out and long toss and all of the things that you should be doing, Accetta, 17, said. The pitchers have confidence in the players around them. The Cougars return all but one infielder from last year. Senior Tyler Jensen comes back at third base and hits No. 3 in the order, senior Chris Clare returns at short stop and hits fourth and senior first baseman Chase Arnold returns batting fifth. Trenton King replaces Eddie Hull (now at Wingate) at second base. He spent time at the position last year when Hull was out sick for a few weeks. That makes our infield pretty solid, Belk said. Were pretty solid up the middle. Two senior outfielders, Christian Schwartz and Jeff Ciesielski, are also back for Catholic and have traded off hitting in the leadoff spot. Junior Nick Olsen has filled in as designated hitter this year, adding depth to the batting order. The Cougars play a tough schedule this year with games against Ardrey Kell, Charlotte Christian and Charlotte Country Day. After good performances in two preseason games against Sun Valley and Myers Park, Catholic came out slow in a 10-0 loss to a good South Mecklenburg team in the first game of the season. Bonen-Clark said the loss was a wake-up call for the team. Theres always that one game that kind of gives us a little push, and this year we got it early, he said. Now were more focused and ready to get after it. Since that loss, the Cougars beat Providence Day 4-3 in 10 innings, Charlotte Country Day 7-1 and Garinger 18-1.Catholic has been competitive with Charlotte teams but has struggled to go far in the state tournament. They made it to the third round of the 3A tournament in 2010 and 2011, but havent been to a state championship since 1988. To go far in the tournament, teams need good pitching, Belk said. Seasons revolve in baseball around those guys on the mound, he said. And when you know youre going to have two guys that go out there and give you a chance to win, thats a good feeling as a coach. And any time you have your one and two guys back another year ... is a good feeling.
Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2013
Pitching experience leads Charlotte Catholic baseball
The Charlotte Catholic baseball team returns its top two pitchers from last year: seniors Jordon Accetta, left, and Jacob Bonen-Clark. The two right-handed pitchers have different styles that complement each other. COREY INSCOE - firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte Catholic pitcher Jacob Bonen-Clark was 8-2 last year with a 2.61 ERA with 71 strikeouts. ROBERT LAHSER - email@example.com
Charlotte Catholic pitcher Jacob Bonen-Clark was 8-2 last year with a 2.61 ERA with 71 strikeouts. JEFF SINER - firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte Catholic's Jeff Ciesielski is one of 11 seniors on this year's Cougar baseball team. JEFF SINER - email@example.com