Just a sophomore, Ryan Prendergast already is the go-to veteran of the Springfield High School baseball team.
A fleet multiple-position player, Prendergast was the only player to start all 27 varsity games as a freshman last season.
Might as well pencil him in the starting lineup for the next couple of seasons, too. That’s where he was — this time in right field — during Thursday’s Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover game at Springboro.
“This is what I’ve always dreamed of, to play varsity baseball where my brother went,” said Prendergast, a sure-handed shortstop. “Hopefully, it’ll continue through college.”
Prendergast provided the bulk of Springfield’s offense with a pair of doubles in a 13-1, five-inning setback. Sean Johnson scored the Wildcats’ run.
The defeat drops Springfield to 6-10 overall but doesn’t affect its 0-6 Central Division record.
Springboro (14-1) has taken off as the surprise of the GWOC despite major graduation losses from last season.
Prendergast is one-third of coach Rob Cassell’s youth movement. Matthew Harris and catcher Anthony Reed, also sophomores, started against Boro.
Prendergast owns 13 hits and a team-high half-dozen doubles. His batting average has taken some tough-luck bounces but faring well at Springboro could be the start of a breakout season. Last season he hit .270 and is close to that mark this year.
“He’s a good ballplayer; a good leadoff hitter for us,” Cassell said. “He’s actually had a lot of really bad luck lately. He’s been hitting the ball hard right at people.
“He’s got talent. He’s got a lot of speed. He can play shortstop, center field, right field. He’s a versatile kid. He’s coming back for a couple of years, which is good.”
Senior pitcher Mitchell Egger (1-3) suffered the loss.
Springboro broke it open with seven runs in the fourth inning. Springfield self-destructed with most of its five errors in the fourth.
“We’ve struggled to hit the ball this year,” said Cassell, in his sixth season after nine seasons at North. “And we’ve struggled in the field at times as well. When you put those two together, it doesn’t turn out in your favor a lot.
“You’ve got to be ready every day. We just can’t put a full game together right now. We play good for four-five-six innings but we always just seem to have that one inning that we fall apart.”
The Wildcats host Troy (8-5) in another GWOC crossover game at 5 p.m. today.