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One man does not define Lancers

Last year, Adam Rogers put up huge numbers. This year, he has gotten help as Seminole Presbyterian aims for a state title.

By SCOTT PURKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 1, 2001


TAMPA -- You couldn't say "Seminole Presbyterian baseball" last year without also saying "Adam Rogers."

That would be the Rogers who put up numbers better than those of a beer-belly softball leaguer: .723 average, 64 RBI, 21 doubles and 5 strikeouts in 87 at-bats.

He also pitched: 8-5 record, 0.94 ERA and 56 strikeouts while leading his team to a 22-7 record and into the Class A, Region 3 final.

But this year, things are different.

This isn't billed as the "Seminole Presbyterian/Adam Rogers Show," and Rogers, the 2000 Times Hillsborough County Player of the Year, said he doesn't mind.

"It would be great to be the player of the year again and put up those numbers like I did last season," he said. "But when it comes down to it, you want the team to win. And you want to be a team player.

"Our goal this season is to make it to Legends Field (site of the state baseball tournament), and we feel like we have the team to do that."

Along with Rogers, the Lancers feature five sophomores who have been with coach J.J. Pizzio since they were seventh-graders: shortstop Tommy Salemy, pitcher/third baseman Chris Phethean, second baseman Jared DeVirgilis, first baseman Mike Schmidt and leftfielder Trevor Kamm.

Include transfers Justin Craig (former Tampa Baptist pitcher/slugger) and Mark Brown (former Gaither junior varsity pitcher), along with freshman outfielder Eric Perez, and, as Pizzio said, "You have a strong nucleus."

"I have 12 guys who really know how to play baseball, and that says a whole lot whether you're at a (Class) A school or a bigger school," Pizzio said. "Hopefully, this will be the year that sets everything off and puts this program as a yearly state contender. Just like our softball team did (winning state titles in 1997 and '98)."

So far, Seminole is 6-2, losing 5-4 to Zephyrhills (2000 4A state semifinalist) and to Fort Pierce John Carroll (ranked in state's top 10 for most of last season).

Rogers, however, has gotten off to a slow start.

A few days before the season began, he sprained his ankle while laying sod at Doc Nance Field. He fell out of a truck and landed on a rake that smacked him in the face and bloodied his lip. Less than a week later, he got the flu.

He now is hitting .325, but in the past three games, he is 5-for-7 with two triples and three doubles.

"He's found his stroke," Pizzio said.

The best news for the Lancers is that seven players are hitting .400 or better and three pitchers have ERAs of less than 2.00.

"In the summer American Legion season, we faced and beat just about every team in the county," Pizzio said. "We've proved we're for real.

"Put it this way: I pretty much expect to be in the final four."

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