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St. Petersburg Catholic High School
“Barons” Varsity Baseball
In 1972, the St. Petersburg Catholic High School Barons baseball team won the state championship under the leadership of Jim Vigue, the winningest coach in school history. Now, 40 years later, the Barons are striving for another state championship – this time led by Jim Vigue’s son, current head coach John Vigue.
Four years ago, Coach Vigue came to SPC with a goal to “bring back the winning attitude” – and he is succeeding. With an overall record of 11-4 (8-2 in the conference) the Barons are tied for first place with one conference game left in the season.
In his efforts to revitalize St. Pete’s baseball program, Coach Vigue wanted to honor SPC alumni who had left a legacy of excellence. As a result, the St. Pete Catholic High School Hall of Fame was established. Included in this elite group of alumni is retired Detroit Tigers catcher, World Series champion, and five-time Gold Glove winner Bill Freehan (class of ’59), who loaned one of his Gold Glove trophies to the school to promote the program and encourage current and future athletes.
While the 2012 Barons are proud of their rich history, they are also intensely focused on their current goals. They work hard as team and play in various leagues year round. As a result, this team has developed a “chemistry,” learning that “playing as a team will go farther than individuals,” says Coach Vigue. Athletes also engage in healthy inter-squad competition, which pushes every player to reach his maximum potential and to work hard to earn a position.
The philosophy of teamwork coupled with personal responsibility has developed a squad with great depth. One of Coach Vigue’s mottoes is “next guy up.” This means that when one player is down, a teammate is ready to jump in and fill in the gap. With 17 returning players (including 7 starters), the Barons have a depth of talent that has been a key to their success in spite of multiple injuries. (Coach Vigue says he has never seen so many injuries in a single season.)
One of the Barons’ strengths is its pitching staff, which collectively holds opponents to a .195 batting average and carries an ERA of 1.43. Top pitchers include seniors Will Gerdes and Stewart Wilks, who have ERA’s of 0.00 and 1.31 respectively. Three other outstanding senior pitchers – Danny Twitty, Joey Saunders, and Roberto Hernandez – have committed to play for Southeastern University (FL), Washington College (MD), and the University of South Florida, respectively. Senior infielder Jimmy Lynch has also committed to play at University of South Carolina, and sophomore outfielder Jacob McFadden has made a verbal commitment to play for the University of South Florida.
The Barons also boast excellent offensive talent, with players like shortstop Max Geller, an outstanding hitter and base runner with 9 stolen bases and a .417 batting average, and first baseman Corey Baptist, who leads the team with 13 RBI and 4 home runs, including a walk-off home run versus Clearwater Central Catholic. Other offensive leaders are sophomore Jacob McFadden, junior Dakota Sarafin, and seniors Jimmy Lynch and Tito Santos.
Team captain Tito Santos, who has overcome multiple injuries to play this season, is “a true leader,” says Vigue. “He’s like a coach on the field.” The other 9 seniors have also provided strong leadership. The entire senior class “knows what we expect,” says Coach Vigue. “In their own way, they all have a part of leadership.
This team of 22 players is led by a highly qualified, experienced coaching staff. Coach Vigue, a former college and Tampa Bay Rays minor league pitcher, is the pitching coach as well as the head coach. Three assistant coaches contribute to the team in their areas of expertise. Outfield coach John Upchurch brings with him over 30 years of coaching experience. Batting coach is Scotty Miller, who led Seminole High School to a national title in 2001. Tommy Kidwell, a former St. Louis Cardinals minor league player and manager, coaches the infield.
Four years ago, Coach Vigue had a vision for the future of Barons baseball; and today his team has its eye on the ultimate goal: a state championship. It has been a long time coming for the Barons, but they are ready for the challenge and eager to add a second state title to the legacy of Barons baseball.
The District Tournament begins on April 23, 2012. For more information, visit www.baronbaseball.com.
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