As Syracuse baseball coach Jeff Bearnson puts it, last year the Titans were the hunters. They were able to stay below the radar and pick off opponents. Entering the Class 5A playoffs as a lowly three seed out of Region 1, Syracuse made a remarkable run through the losers’ bracket, beating Cyprus, West and Brighton before falling to Jordan.
Instead of a young squad of hunters, this year’s Titans are now a more experienced group prepared to be hunted. No team this year will be looking past Syracuse. While Davis remains the favorite to repeat as region champion, the Darts should get a fight from Syracuse for the top spot.
Titans reloadfor 2012 season
Syracuse has only three returning seniors. The rest of the starting lineup will likely be made up of juniors.
Syracuse went 10-6 last year in Region 1, good for third place behind Davis and Viewmont.
The realignment this year has moved Viewmont, which won eight of the last 10 region titles, to Region 2. Syracuse has not won a title in its five year history.
"We aren’t sneaking up on anyone this year," Bearnson said. "The expectations of these kids is that they want to win and they know how to win a little bit now."
Syracuse will look to seniors Jordan Pobanz and Braden Roberts to lead the team this year. Both players played at an All-State level in 2011 and may be two of the best returning players in the region.
Bearnson said last year’s squad had more of a "rah rah" attitude, but he feels that his seniors this year are the type the younger players can watch and emulate. It’s an assessment Roberts agrees with.
"I’m not really a vocal kind of person, but I always try to set a good example and lead in that kind of way," Roberts said. "I’ll make sure to talk to them if they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing."
Another addition that will make a difference is the transfer of senior Hayden Udy, a solid hitter who spent his first two years playing at Northridge. Udy’s family transferred into the boundaries in the offseason, giving him a fresh start at a new school. He’ll be starting at center field for the Titans.
"A lot of my kids know him and have played with him," Bearnson said. "He fit right in, he’s comfortable, he has a lot of friends here anyway. It’s worked out and been a blessing for all of us because he’s such a good kid."
Syracuse started its season last weekend at the Little Caesars Classic in St. George, an annual tournament area schools play in to help firm up their lineup. The Titans finished 1-3, though much of it came down to one or two bad innings and the coaching staff finding playing time for younger athletes.
After 22 years coaching around Davis County, Bearnson knows that championships have little to do with overall records. He doesn’t think about titles or accolades. Instead, he always sets one specific goal for his team.
"Our goal every year is to play every inning, every pitch, and play hard," Bearnson said. "That’s always our goal and always will be. If you play hard every inning, every pitch, all game long, the rest will take care of itself."
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.