Troy High senior Noah Wagberg lines up a throw during an indoor practice March 28. Wagberg is one of seven seniors on this year’s roster.

Troy High senior Noah Wagberg lines up a throw during an indoor practice March 28. Wagberg is one of seven seniors on this year’s roster.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Young Troy High baseball team eyes league and district crowns

By: Timothy Pontzer | Troy Times | Published April 3, 2018

 Junior Nick Gajewski takes batting practice. The Colts will host their district group this season, looking to collect a second district trophy in three seasons.

Junior Nick Gajewski takes batting practice. The Colts will host their district group this season, looking to collect a second district trophy in three seasons.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

TROY — Spring in Michigan can be a challenge for local prep baseball coaches, trying to dodge snowflakes and chilly temperatures for a chance to actually practice outside.

Tim Mullen lamented the late thaw but was pleased with how his Troy High baseball team fared in its first trip outdoors. Troy collected a 10-0 home victory over Auburn Hills Oakland Christian March 26, marking the first action the Colts had seen not taking place in the gymnasium.

“It’s our first day outside, so you’re not sure exactly how things would play out,” Mullen said after the win. “It’s nice to get some nice live looks. It’s nice to get a win to get that confidence up. We’re happy to get that first win under our belt, and we now know some things to work on.”

Aside from the forecast, another hurdle for Mullen is filling out a lineup card. Troy graduated 11 seniors off last year’s roster that went 21-19 overall and 6-6 in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

“Last year’s senior class was really deep. We even had a couple juniors play JV to get some time even though they were good enough for the varsity level,” Mullen explained. “Last year, going into the season I could’ve told you right off the bat what our lineup would look like. This year, there’s a lot of question marks, which means there’s variables as to where we’re going to be.”

This year sees seven seniors on the roster. Mullen also said he has one of his strongest junior classes in years and a few underclassmen he expects to be able to compete for playing time.

“We have a lot of great depth. It’s a good problem to have, but we just have to figure out how to shape our lineup,” Mullen said. “I have a lot of confidence in this group, but being so young it makes it hard to predict. … I think we have the pieces to put a really good team out there.”

Mullen said he plans to use contests like the one with Oakland Christian as auditions.

“We don’t play a league game until April 23. We have quite a few nonleague games between now and then to establish some guys,” Mullen said. “We can see who comes through in games. Guys can look great in the gym, but you want to see who rises up on the field.”

Now in his sixth year at the helm of the Colts, Mullen said the strength of his club is in the middle infield. He cited a pair of team captains there, as senior shortstop Aaron Sexton enters his third year on varsity and junior second baseman/pitcher Mario Gaudino begins his second year.

“Those two guys will be looked to for a lot of things,” Mullen said. “They’re great kids on the field and in the classroom. They’re willing to take the kids under their wing, and they look up to them.”

Mullen said Gaudino will be Troy’s ace on the mound this year, but admitted that the rest of his pitching staff is up in the air.

“Pitching is a wild card. We’re deep there with a lot of talent, but we just have to establish some guys for our staff,” Mullen said. “Early on I thought that may be an issue for us, but we have a lot of good arms.”

The manager said Troy’s biggest assets are a strong defense and solid weapons at the plate.

“Even though we lost seven quality bats, our hitting is much better than I anticipated,” Mullen said. “We have great speed as well, and if you put that together, we can hopefully score some runs. We preach great defense around here, and I think we’ll be great there.”

Troy hosts its district bracket this year, looking to win a title for the second time in three seasons. Additionally, the Colts aim for their first league crown since 2013.

“Our chemistry is really strong, and the kids seem to like each other and are pushing each other for those spots,” Mullen said. “Overall I think we’ll be good. Our goals are to win the league, but at the end of the day, the district and regional is what really is important. We have our district on our home field this year, so we want to be playing our best baseball of the year in late May.”