The future appears bright for the baseball program at Laurel High.
The Spartans had several freshmen and sophomores make major contributions this season under head coach Don Cleveland, who was in his seventh season.
Laurel finished just under .500 last year but was 10-6 in regular-season play this season.
“Last year, the team was so young. They were young with not much baseball experience,” said Cleveland, also the school’s athletic director. “We got them back with another year of baseball experience.”
“Last year we only had three or four seniors,” he added. “We had a lot of guys returning than we lost a lot of guys, some to grades. Last year the team was really young; this year they are still young, with three seniors. Expectations were still pretty high. We were able to build on last year. We lost a lot of close games. Hopefully in the future we can beat those teams.”
Laurel lost twice in the regular-season to Class 4A South Region champ Eleanor Roosevelt High of Greenbelt.
In the first game the Spartans trailed just 5-3 after five innings before the Raiders pulled away.
Roosevelt went on to beat Gwynn Park for the Prince George’s County title.
In the regional baseball tournament, the top-seeded Spartans defeated Bladensburg, 3-1, after a first-round bye.
Laurel was eliminated by Parkdale, 10-0, in the Class 4A South Section I finals.
“Good pitching carried us through the season and we were solid defensively,” Cleveland said.
“Not only have we had better defense this year, but we've had lively bats, consistent pitching. That all contributed to a good season,” senior Connor Lohman wrote in a text.
The three seniors on the roster this season were Roy Wesley, Sterling Harper and Lohman.
“Roy has been on the team for three years,” Cleveland said. “He starts in the outfield or shortstop, depending on who is pitching. He is a solid defensive player. Connor starts in left field and pitches a little bit. He has been on the team for three years.”
The infield includes junior third baseman Joseph-Andrew Sigeyog, freshman shortstop Marcus Jones, sophomore second baseman Malachi Murphy and junior first baseman McKhale Coates-Williams.
“Joseph is a very versatile player. He plays multiple positions and is a reliable hitter,” Cleveland said. “Marcus is our No. 2 pitcher and he hits third in the order. He has been a welcome addition. He is very good; he has been a huge part of this team this year. Malachi is a solid player with a lot of room to grow. He is a three-sport athlete. McKhale is in his second year on the team and just plays first base.”
The catcher is freshman Adrian Jovial.
“He has taken over as the starting catcher,” Cleveland said. “He hits fourth or fifth in the order. He is a good, smart player.”
Other key players are sophomore infielder/outfielder Mike Rodriguez-Ortega, who is from the Dominican Republic, and sophomore Tanner Perkes.
“Mike is new to the school. He throws the ball hard and is a good fielder. He has been a welcome addition,” Cleveland said. “Tanner is our No. 1 pitcher. He has been outstanding this year. He has kept us in games we had no business belonging in. He is a solid hitter, bats second and also plays the outfield.”
Other players on the roster were sophomores Sonny Chapman, Kory Estep and Dennis Gresham-Chappelle freshman Kai Glass and juniors Johdani Sorto and Steven Steinbach. George Gowe is the assistant coach.
Laurel High graduate Tyler Carmen ended his four-year college career with the baseball program at Methodist in North Carolina. He did not allow a run in two appearances for the Division III program this season.
Junior outfielder DaVonn Griffin (Hammond High) of Savage hit .212 with 10 steals in his first 49 games, with 48 starts, for Division I James Madison of the Colonial Athletic Association.
Laurel resident Jon Mierzwa (Reservoir High) was 7-0 with 2.04 ERA in his first 12 games this year with Division III Catholic.