LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – Despite last season’s 4-16 record, the Rockets won their playoff opener over Windham (15-1) and the team returns plenty of experienced underclassmen who competed on the varsity level a year ago.

Coach Dan Dougherty says, “We expect to use our experience from last season to our advantage. [We want to] be more competitive in league play. If we can decrease our number of errors from last season, we’ll put ourselves in a better position to win the close games.”

Sophomore Tino Rivera-Ocasio (IF/C) returns after leading the team in hitting (.305 BA, 14 hits and 14 RBIs) as a freshman. Senior Justin Beeson (P/OF) was named to the Second-Team All-League last year. He finished second with 15 runs scored and third with 13 base hits. Junior infielder Brady Bunofsky also is back in the fold after taking team-high honors in stolen bases (13) and placing third on the team in runs scored (12).

Dougherty points out, “Pitching will be our strength this year. We return several guys on the mound that kept us in games last year, and we expect them to keep improving this spring.”

Junior Rick Palumbo struck out 52 batters in 31 innings of work on the hill. He also led Lowellville in earned run average (3.54). His classmate, Dylan Okular punched out 35 batters in 39 innings as a sophomore. Senior Brandon Simmons closed out his campaign with a 5.60 ERA.

The Rockets begin the 2022 season at home against Warren JFK on Saturday, March 26 and then will host Springfield on the following Monday (March 28).

Lowellville Rockets’ Baseball Preview
2021 Record: 4-16
2021 Post-Season Finish: lost Sectional Championship to Warren JFK (10-0)
Coach: Dan Dougherty

2021 Team Statistics
Batting Average: .199
Earned Run Average: 6.33

Key Returnees
Seniors – Justin Beeson (P/OF) and Brandon Simmons (P/IF); Juniors – Dylan Okular (P/IF), Brady Bunofsky (IF), Ricky Palumbo (P/IF), Evan Alfano (OF), Luke Vanca (OF); Sophomore – Tino Rivera-Ocasio (C/IF)

Junior – Kevin Johnson

2022 Schedule
Mar. 26 – Warren JFK
Mar. 28 – Springfield
Mar. 29 – at Springfield
Mar. 31 – at Southern
Apr. 2 – Heartland Christian
Apr. 4 – at Mineral Ridge
Apr. 5 – Mineral Ridge
Apr. 7 – East
Apr. 9 – Lisbon
Apt. 11 – at Jackson-Milton
Apr. 12 – Jackson-Milton
Apr. 14 – at Leetonia
Apr. 16 – at Campbell Memorial
Apr. 18 – at Western Reserve
Apt. 19 – Western Reserve
Apr. 21 – Campbell Memorial
Apr. 23 – Liberty
Apr. 25 – Waterloo
Apr. 26 – at Waterloo
Apr. 28 – at Sebring
Apr. 29 – Sebring
May 2 – at McDonald
May 3 – McDonald
May 5 – East Palestine (Senior Night)
May – Mathews
May 12 – Struthers