This past Sunday, East drew a road match up against Kent Roosevelt in the opening round of the Division I Sectional Tournament. Despite their struggles at 0-13, many who’ve seen the Panthers play in 2012 compared to this season have seen a vast difference in the quality of play. Over the last two seasons, East has scheduled a mix of varsity and junior varsity competition. This season; however, the Panthers are a first-year member of the All-American Conference where they are matched up against many more seasoned ball clubs. The learning curve has been turned up a notch as the importance of playing error-free baseball has become more apparent.
Coach Eric Pellegrini has been with the East baseball program since 2012, the academic year that the city schools’ athletic programs merged. This season, with depth already an issue, the Panthers lost a few key players who they were counting on throughout the course of the season due to multiple reasons . However, the group has remained hungry to improve and to seek that elusive victory.
Mohammad Mujahed, one of the team’s two seniors, has improved tremendously from year-to-year. He has split time between infield and outfield positions this spring. Mujahed recorded his first hit of his prep career last month and had a two RBI game against Youngstown Christian. Mohammad is posting a .357 on-base percentage. Mo’s brother, Ali, leads the team in RBIs (5) and is tied for second in runs scored as a sophomore.
Junior Brandon Jackson continues to impress not only from his center field position but also on the hill. Jackson has thrown a team-high 25 2/3 innings while striking out 37 batters and posting a 6.27 ERA in his 6 appearances. Brandon leads the team with a .931 fielding percentage as he has been successful in 27 of his 29 fielding chances. At the dish, Jackson has scored 6 times, stolen 11 bases and has an on-base percentage of .400 (leads team in all categories). Jeremy Woodberry, also a junior, is the team leader in base hits (8) and doubles (3) while he has registered 7 stolen bases and an on-base percentage of .343.
Richard McBride has given the team a consistent back stop this season. McBride, only a sophomore, has 56 put outs along with 5 assists compared to just 6 errors (.910 fielding percentage). Last year, McBride only had 8 fielding chances. Sophomore Will Peterson is tied with Ali Mujahed as the team leader in RBIs (5). Will’s classmate, Carlos Uribarry has an on-base percentage of .368 and has hit a team leading .294 batting average so far this season. Uribarry also has 4 RBIs.
East will attempt to achieve their first post-season victory in over two decades when they travel to Kent to take on the Rough Riders next week in the sectional semifinal. The winner will try and cage the Tigers of Howland for the sectional championship.