Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.) baseball coach Gary Remiker doesn't worry about pitch counts. With five Division I-bound pitchers to choose from, his chief concern is getting each staff member enough innings of work.
It's a rare problem to have in high school baseball, and it’s the main reason the defending San Diego Section Division III champions are the top-ranked team in the preseason USA TODAY Super 25 baseball rankings. The Dons went 30-5 last season and return every pitcher who earned a win in 2012.
"It's unique to have five guys who are fitting that mold of an ace compared to times in the past when you might have one," Remiker said. "If pitching is whatever percentage of the game it is supposed to be, this makes my job easier. I know every single game we have a quality arm out there. The challenge is keeping everybody happy."
Stephen Gonsalves is the most highly recruited of the Dons' pitchers. The 6-foot-5 senior left-hander went 9-2 last season with a 1.91 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 66 innings. He has committed to San Diego but is likely to go in the first round of June’s MLB Draft.
Like Gonsalves, senior right-hander Michael Martin has been on Cathedral's varsity team since he was a sophomore. The 6-2 Martin has signed with UC Irvine and went 7-2 last season with 72 strikeouts and a 0.90 ERA in 62 innings. He also led the team's regular hitters with a .374 batting average.
"There's always been a good healthy rivalry between Stephen and Michael," Remiker said. "They came up together. They're always trying to outdo the other, but it's a friendly rivalry."
It's the rest of the staff that makes the Dons special. Left-hander Brady Aiken, righty Alex Schick and lefty Andrew Wright could be the top pitchers elsewhere.
Aiken, a 6-3 junior who plans to sign with UCLA, went 6-1 last season with a 1.32 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 47.2 innings. Schick, who has signed with California, went 4-1 with a 1.04 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 40.1 innings, while Wright went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in a scant 9.1 innings of work. Wright has signed with Pepperdine.
"All of these kids are experienced," Remiker said. "All of them have good arms. I still think these kids know their role and where they sit in the rotation."
Cathedral Catholic isn't the only team in the Super 25 preseason rankings with an abundance of pitching.
No. 10 Spruce Creek (Port Orange, Fla.) returns three key right-handed starters from its 2012 8A state championship.
Junior Kyle Marsh went 11-0 with a 0.31 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 72.2 innings. He leads a staff that includes Stetson signee Griffin Fuller, who went 10-1 with a 0.99 ERA, and Chris Hopkins (3-1 with 35 strikeouts in 30 innings).
The Hawks also added righty Gage Hutchinson, who had a 1.99 ERA at De Land (Fla.) last season.
In its first three games this season, Spruce Creek (2-1) didn’t allow an earned run.
"It's very difficult to get the guys the innings they deserve," Spruce Creek coach Johnny Goodrich said. "The fortunate thing is we don't have to worry about blowing anybody's arm up. When you look at those four guys, at any place else in our area they're No. 1.”
No. 17 Gloucester Catholic (Gloucester City, N.J.) won the state Non-Public A title last year and should have an even better pitching staff this year.
That’s because of the return of senior right-hander Mike Shawaryn, who missed much of last season after going 7-0 with a 1.56 ERA as a sophomore.He's joined by sophomore right-hander John Murphy, who went 7-2 with 47 strikeouts in 60.1 innings last year, junior Steve Mondile (4-0 with a 1.38 ERA), junior right-hander Mike Mercer (3-0 with a 0.94 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Dante Scafidi (3.0 with a 1.67 ERA).
No. 21 Vista (Calif.) is located about 30 miles north of Cathedral Catholic and has a pitching staff to rival the Dons.
Oregon-bound left-hander Brett Seeburger went 10-1 with a 0.65 ERA last year; senior right-hander Austin Ott went 7-1 with a 1.85 ERA; and righty Billy Roth went 9-1 with a 0.92 ERA.
Roth has committed to Arizona.