Photo by Theo Tate
(Front row) Justin Brummund, Carter Hall, BJ Niesporek, Jordan James, Alec Peterson, Zack Nunn and Brandon Merz; (second row) Steve Hartline, Sam Dean, Jake Freivogel, Aaron Bloomquist, Pete Krieshok and Collin Barret; (third row) Sam Watson, Brant Bushue, Bruce Drennan, Gabe Jarman, David Pulley, Ryan Steen and DJ Miller; (back row) Head Coach Scott Smallie and Coach Jeff Ridenour.
With three returning all-Southwestern Conference selections, the Granite City Warriors hope to celebrate a winning season in Scott Smallie’s first year as head baseball coach this spring.
“We’ve got a lot of senior leadership, so expectations are that we can play hard and we’ll come out every game and compete and let the cards fall where they may,” Smallie said. “We’ll be competitive, we’ll get after it and we hope to win some games.”
After being the junior varsity coach the last four years, Smallie replaces John Moad as the Warriors’ head coach this season. Moad, who is now the school’s athletic director, coached the program for four seasons.
“I want to bring the tradition back of playing solid defensive baseball, doing the right things on offense, turning the program around and getting it back with the Edwardsvilles, the O’Fallons, the Belleville Easts, the Belleville Wests and the Altons,” said Smallie, who graduated from Granite City in 1998. “It’s a tough conference, so we want to be competitive.”
Bruce Drennan, D.J. Miller and Ryan Steen are the top returning players from last year’s team that finished 15-21 overall and 6-8 in conference play.
Drennan earned first-team all-conference honors after hitting .431 with two home runs and 34 RBIs and going 3-0 on the mound a year ago.
“He played first base for us last year, but he’s probably going to have to play a bunch of positions,” Smallie said. “Right now, he’s slotted in as our shortstop.”
Miller, who plans to play baseball at Ole Miss next year, hit .389 and was named second-team all-league last spring.
“I’m hoping he’ll come out and compete for us,” Smallie said. “He’ll be our center fielder and he’s going to a pretty big school next year.”
Steen hit .366 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 2014, earning him third-team all-conference utility player honors.
“Ryan Steen has a little bit of a shoulder issue right now, so he’s going to be our primary DH and he’s going to hit in the middle of the lineup for us,” Smallie said.
The Warriors have 11 seniors. Aaron Bloomquist, Justin Brummund, Sam Dean, Carter Hall, Stevie Hartline, Pete Krieshok, Zack Nunn and Alec Peterson round out the senior class.
Junior Gabe Jarman returns as one of the pitchers. He recorded a win in the Warriors’ 11-4 win over Alton Marquette in their season opener on Friday at Babe Champion Field.
Smallie said in order for his team to succeed this season, they must be strong defensively.
“We’re hoping to make the plays this year,” Smallie said. “In the previous years, we haven’t made some plays that should have been made. Your pitchers throw 20 more pitches than they should. We’re hoping to make those plays behind them this year so the pitchers don’t have to throw so many extra pitches this year. Our goal is to make sure that we’re making those routine plays to get us out of the big inning or get us out of an inning that otherwise they would score four or five runs.”
A senior outfielder for GCHS, Miller has already inked a deal to play at Ole Miss next year. Miller hit .389 with a homer and 16 RBIs and a team-high 13 doubles for the Warriors in ‘14 and looks to be improved in ‘15.
Drennan returns as the leading hitter from last year for the Warriors. Now a senior, as a junior, Drennan hit a team-high .431 with two homers and a team-best 34 RBIs.
Quick Hits/2015 Outlook
Team: Granite City Warriors
Head coach: Scott Smallie
Record last year: 15-22
Career record: First year
GRANITE CITY BASEBALL
Steve Hartline P, OF
Sam Dean P, INF
Justin Brummund P
Carter Hall INF
Zack Nunn OF
Alec Peterson OF
D.J. Miller OF, P
Aaron Bloomquist P, C
Ryan Steen INF, P
Pete Krieshok INF
Bruce Drennan INF, P
Collin Barrett INF, P
Brandon Merz INF
Gabe Jarman P, INF
Jordan James C
David Pulley OF, P
Jake Freivogel C, P, INF
Brant Bushue P
Sam Watson P, OF
B.J. Niesporek OF, C
March 27 — vs. Dupo, 4:15 p.m.
March 28 — vs. Washington (DH), noon
March 31 — at Belleville West*, 4:30 p.m.
April 2 — vs. Belleville East*, 4:30 p.m.
April 6 — vs. Highland (GCS Stadium), 6:30 p.m.
April 7 — at Alton*, 4:30 p.m.
April 9 — at O’Fallon*, 4:30 p.m.
April 11 — at Triad (DH), 1 p.m.
April 14 — vs. Collinsville*, 4:30 p.m.
April 16 — at Edwardsville*, 4:30 p.m.
April 17 — vs. Cahokia, 4:30 p.m.
April 21 — at East St. Louis*, 4:30 p.m.
April 22 — at CBC, 4:30 p.m.
April 24 — vs. CM, 4:30 p.m.
April 27 — at Mater Dei, 4:15 p.m.
April 28 — at Belleville East*, 4:30 p.m.
April 30 — vs. Belleville West*, 4:30 p.m.
May 1 — vs. Chatham Glenwood (DH), 4:30 p.m.
May 5 — vs. O’Fallon*, 4:30 p.m.
May 7 — vs. Alton*, 4:30 p.m.
May 8 — vs. Jersey, 4:15 p.m.
May 12 — vs. Edwardsville*, 4:30 p.m.
May 14 — at Collinsville*, 4:30 p.m.
May 15 — vs. Waterloo, 4:15 p.m.
May 16 — at Springfield, noon
May 19 — vs. East St. Louis*, 4:30 p.m.
May 20 — at Mascoutah, 4:30 p.m.
* Denotes conference game