JACKSON TWP — For Sam Fragale and Zach Spangler, it was nine years in the making.
The two Seneca Valley senior baseball stars signed letters of intent Friday to play the sport in college, Fragale at Virginia Tech and Spangler at Kent State.
They have been good friends since their childhood days.
“We always wanted to sign on the same day,” said Spangler. “We've been talking about it since we were 9 years old.”
Both players entertained offers from several schools and their final decision was swayed heavily by the coaches they will be playing for.
“Coach (Pete) Hughes is a great leader,” Fragale said of the Hokies' mentor, who guided the team to a 34-21 record in 2012. “The baseball team also does a lot of work in the community and that was important to me.”
Fragale has started for the Raiders since his freshman season, first at shortstop and then at second base for the majority of his junior campaign. SV coach Eric Semega plans to move the infielder back to shortstop next season.
“Shortstop and second base have a lot of the same responsibilities,” Fragale said. “The biggest difference is that a shortstop controls the infield. I like being involved in every play and am excited about moving back there next spring.”
Fragale's clutch play is not limited to his defense.
In a WPIAL Class AAAA semifinal playoff against Central Catholic last spring, the No. 3 hitter doubled while scoring two runs and driving in two in a 9-5 victory.
“In that spot in the order, we need someone who can drive the ball and Sam does that,” Semega said. “He gets a ton of RBIs and fills that role perfectly for us.”
Spangler's versatility proved to be very valuable to the Raiders in 2012.
He spent time at first base, as a designated hitter and as the Raiders' No. 3 pitcher behind Matt Smith and Zach Detillio.
“I've always been comfortable as a pitcher,” he said, “but hitting is not a problem for me. I had a tendency to lunge at the ball and I worked on that, focusing on staying back in the batter's box.”
“Zach is a very hard worker,” said Semega. “He was a huge asset to us offensively and pitched well when we needed him.”
One case in particular came last May when the right-hander hurled a complete game in a 7-3 win over rival North Allegheny, clinching for the Raiders the Section 1 title.
Kent State plans to utilize Spangler's talents on the mound.
“Mike Birkbeck is the pitching coach there and he has a good reputation,” Spangler said. “He is one of the most respected pitching coaches around and won (Baseball America's) 2012 Assistant Coach of the Year Award.”
The Golden Flashes are led by head coach Scott Stricklin. He has compiled a 314-165 record in eight seasons with the team and led Kent State to a College World Series appearance last June.
Before Fragale and Spangler focus on succeeding at the collegiate level, they are looking forward to one last season with the Raiders, who will enter the 2013 season as two-time defending WPIAL champions.
With the loss of Smith and Detillio to graduation, Spangler will take the reins as SV's top pitcher.
“It's a huge opportunity for me and I'm excited about the challenge,” he said.
“It's been a great ride,” Fragale said of the Raiders claiming back-to-back district titles. “It's something most teams don't experience. We've all formed great friendships on the team and I've had a great time.”