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Go-go Terriers advance in playoffs

Last year during the St. Francis Prep baseball team’s CHSAA Class A intersectional championship run, the Terriers’ No. 3 hitter was Paul Karmas, a chiseled 6-foot-3, 220-pound power hitter.

That was then; this is now.

Meet Dennis Nover, St. Francis Prep’s new No. 3 hitter. He’s 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds soaking wet. Nover can’t crush long home runs. His biggest asset is his speed. And that’s OK with coach Bro. Robert Kent. Nover is exactly the type of player these new go-go Terriers want near the top of their order.

“That’s our strategy,” Kent said.

Two weeks ago, the coach came to the realization that the wood bats being used this year have changed the game so much, Prep had to not only change its philosophy, but its entire lineup, to be successful. So Kent moved No. 3 hitter Lucas Romeo down the order, he moved No. 9 hitter Bobby Dougherty, a running back on the school’s football team, up to second. Nover, formerly the second hitter, was moved to third.

And the results have been undeniable. St. Francis Prep, which beat Xavier in a third-round, best-of-three CHSAA Class A playoff series Sunday, has not lost yet since the change. The Terriers, seeded fifth in the final, double-elimination portion of postseason, were scheduled to play No. 5 Stepinac on Wednesday. St. Francis Prep has made the final eight in the CHSAA playoffs every year since 1990.

The first inning Sunday was a perfect example of Prep’s new ways. Billy Xouris led off with a walk, Dougherty bunted for a hit and then Nover did the same. Clean-up hitter Sebastian Grazziani drove in Xouris and Dougherty with a single, A.J. Boardman sacrificed Grazziani and Nover over and, two batters later, Nick Copelli drove in Nover with a single.

Kent said not everyone was happy with the change at first.

“They don’t like it,” the coach said. “They wanna swing away. Even the little guys wanna hit home runs.”

There haven’t been many long balls to speak of this year. But so far, Prep’s new ways have been a grand slam.

Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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