Gloucester's Post 3 American Legion baseball team may be ushering in seven new starters and 12 new players to the team, but that has not deterred manager Gerald MacKillop's confidence in his squad this summer.
Post 3 may lack the star power of last year's squad, who finished 17-7 overall and by seasons end placed sixth out of 152 teams in Massachusetts, but that does not mean the overall roster is lacking talent.
"This team is deep and versatile, and I feel good about them," MacKillop said. "We may not have the 'star power' we had last year but this team is deep especially at pitcher. Last year pitching depth killed us in the end but we have four legitimate starters this season and a bullpen."
Post 3's starting rotation is filled with familiar faces from Cape Ann. Gloucester's Adam Philpott, who just finished up his Freshman year at Bates College, where he plays basketball, will be the team's No. 1 starter and will be followed by Gloucester High standouts Jason Vizena and Sean Gillon and Rockport standout Tucker Meredith. The latter three are all coming off of successful high school seasons.
Rockport's Mike Tupper, Manchester Essex High School standout Adrian Frattini and Gloucester's Drew Sidell are expected to anchor the bullpen. Pitching depth will be especially important this summer as American Legion Baseball has gone to wooden bats for the first time.
Gloucester's pitching depth was on display in its season opening 6-5 extra innings win over Salem Monday. Meredith and Gillon split the first seven innings while Tupper came on in relief to earn the win with two shutout innings. Tupper also scored the winning run for Post 3 after leading off the top of the ninth inning with a double and threw a pair of runners out at the plate from right field.
"Tupper is just a gamer," MacKillop said. "Those two assists he made from right field weren't even close, he got them by a few steps. Then he came in to get the win in relief."
The teams two returning starters, Philpott and Gloucester's Caulin Rogers, who just finished playing baseball at Bridgton Academy this spring and is heading to Bentley University to play baseball in the fall, will be counted on to lead the team. Both were every day players during last seasons deep playoff run. Gloucester's Mike Muniz and Peter Clark are the teams other two returning players, both came off the bench in 2011 but MacKillop expects them both to start this summer.
Philpott is not only the staff ace, he's a reliable bat in the middle of the order while Rogers sets the tone near the top of the order and provides middle infield defense.
"When you have Adam Philpott and Caulin Rogers your team gains instant credibility," MacKillop said. "They are our leaders. Adam is more of a vocal leader where Caulin leads by example but it's a great balance and it works for us."
Other players who MacKillop expects to make an impact this season are Gavin Ugone, a Rockport native who plays at Brooks School and Gloucester's Kyle Lucido, Alex Webb and Santo Parisi.
The goal for Post 3 this season is to finish in the top four in District 8 as it did last season, and get into the state sectional playoffs, a goal that MacKillop believes is very attainable.
"The main goal is to finish top four in District 8," MacKillop said. "The philosophy is always the same, we want to grind it out and that's what we will continue to do. We like this team, the majority of the starting lineup is essentially Legion rookies but we have looked good in the few practices we had and the team has already handled adversity coming back to win on Monday."