PBCHS Baseball Team Focused On Improving Fundamentals

The Palm Beach Central High School boys varsity baseball team. Photo courtesy Tony Gullo

As the regular season draws to a close, the Palm Beach Central High School boys varsity baseball team is busy working to get physically stronger, more mentally alert and playing better defense.

According to PBCHS head baseball coach Tony Gullo, his squad is trying to finish the regular season in the way it started the season.

“Despite losing 12 seniors from last year’s team, we got off to a good start this season with four straight wins, and then we hit a few bumps in the road,” said Gullo, whose team sports a 10-8 record. “Frankly, there have been at least four games this season that we should have won.”

Despite the up-and-down nature of the current season, Gullo and his coaching staff remain committed to getting the players to finish the regular season strong and to have a long postseason run with strong performances in the batter’s box, while running the bases and playing a tough defense.

According to Gullo, the biggest reason why his team doesn’t have more victories this season has been inconsistent play on defense.

“You can’t give teams extra outs, but we are committed to getting better,” Gullo said. “We are still working on improving our defense. Our program has always prided itself on playing good defense.”

In recent games, Gullo noted that a number of his players have found their stroke with their bats.

“Ryan Schulman is hitting .347, Zach Pollock is hitting .340, Kyle Baxt’s average is up to .328 and Jake Carman is hitting .318,” Gullo said. “And freshman catcher Slade Wayne has caught some big games for us and had some big hits.”

During Palm Beach Central’s 5-4 win against Palm Beach Gardens High School on April 14, the Bronco bats came alive late in the game to rally with four runs in the last two innings for the victory.

Gullo has a strong feeling that win will catapult his team in the right direction for the final five games of the regular season.

In addition to playing better team defense, Gullo said that his pitching staff also needs strong performances.

Three of Palm Beach Central’s pitchers have extremely low earned run averages (ERAs). Gavin Batallan has an ERA of 0.93 in 15 innings of work; Hector Camacho’s ERA is 1.23; and Ryan Schulman has an ERA of 1.65. In addition, senior David Urrutia has been able to get some big outs while on the mound. Urrutia also plays third base and catches.

“David is a good pitcher, and while catching, he has done a good job of controlling the game,” Gullo said.

Fortunately, Gullo has great pitching depth this year with 11 players on the team who have pitched at least 12 innings this season.

“We have been pitching by committee,” he said.

While Gullo may be the team’s head coach, he’s thankful to have such a dedicated group of assistant coaches that includes Brad Peacock, Lou Todaro, Ryan Anschuetz and Christian Benhart.

Not only is Peacock a former Palm Beach Central baseball player, he went on to play 16 years of professional baseball, which included seven years with Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros.

“It’s great to have a coach on my staff with big league experience,” Gullo said. “Brad is such a cerebral mind. He works well with the players. Lou has a ton of energy, lots of baseball knowledge and is a great batting practice thrower. Christian is an invaluable member of my staff, and Ryan will do whatever I need him to do to help our team get better.”