Almanac Diamond Dozen
The 2013 scholastic baseball season blended the old with the new as traditional powers such as Bethel Park and Chartiers Valley made room for Keystone Oaks and Canon-McMillan. While the Black Hawks and the Colts reached the WPIAL playoffs as did Mt. Lebanon, the Golden Eagles and Big Macs dominated the headlines with their unexpected campaigns. Keystone Oaks mounted the best spring in the program’s history while Canon-Mac, five years removed from a state title, regained its championship form, garnering an unexpected section banner in what was expected to be a rebuilding year.
Hence it comes as no surprise that The Almanac’s 2013 Diamond Dozen is a blend of the aforementioned schools but with the Golden Eagles claiming the top honors. Jared Skolnicki earned Most Valuable Player laurels while manager Scott Crimone gained Coach of the Year Accolades. KO freshman first baseman Nick Riggle shares Rookie of the Year acclaim with CV’s Tanner Garris.
Under Crimone, KO recorded the finest season in the school’s history. The Golden Eagles shared a section banner with rival Char Valley, finished third in the WPIAL and reached the PIAA semifinals before falling to Upper Moreland, 3-1. KO finished 20-6 overall.
In addition to Skolnicki, (see related story), Ryan Ribeau played a key role in KO’s success. The senior called the shots behind the plate. An all-section performer, he caught eight runners stealing and maintained a .991 fielding average.
At the plate, he ranked No. 2 in hitting with a .357 average. Ribeau drove in 17 and scored 15 runs. He drilled three doubles and a triple. He swiped five bases, second on the club.
“Ryan was clearly the best catcher in the section this season,” said KO manager Scott Crimone. “He had a fantastic career here at KO.”
Ribeau will continue to play baseball in college. He will attend the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in the fall.
Three star for CV
Chartiers Valley shared a section title with Keystone Oaks as both clubs split decisions and finished 8-2 in league play. The Colts finished 17-5 overall but fell to the Golden Eagles, 4-3, in the quarterfinals of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
Three reasons for the Colts’ success this season were Matt Mulvihill, Jake Horew and Tanner Garris.
A three-year starter, Mulvihill ranked as the ace of one of the top pitching staffs in the district. The senior compiled a 4-0 mark before picking up a key 2-1 win over Belle Vernon in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs. A solid stick, Mulvihill ranked among the leaders in the WPIAL with 29 RBI during the regular season. CV’s No. 3 batter gained all-section honors for the second season in a row.
While Horew also garnered another all-section acclaim, Garris gained his first all-section laurel.
A four-year starter, Horew has anchored the CV defense at shortstop. The senior, who batted .456 in 2012, again ranked among the top hitters, not to mention run-producers in the WPIAL. He drove in 24 runs and scored 29 times during the regular season for the Colts. Horew capped his career by participating in the WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association’s recent all-star game, playing for the Class AAA club.
Only a sophomore, Garris shares Almanac Rookie of the Year honors with rival Nick Riggle from Keystone Oaks.
An outfielder, Garris ranked among the top hitters in the district. He stroked 30 hits in 66 at bats for a .455 average during the regular season. He also scored 26 runs.
Duo lead CM
While many expected the experienced Black Hawks to claim the Section 5-AAAA title, Canon-McMillan edged BP for the top spot. The Big Macs won the banner with an 8-2 slate while the Hawks tied Lebo for second place with a 7-3 record. In the WPIAL quarterfinals, CM and BP were both eliminated while Lebo lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Kevin Forrester and Frank Fortunato played key roles in CM’s successful 12-8 season. Both seniors earned all-section laurels and participated in the WPIAL Coaches Association’s all-star contest.
A pitcher, Forrester compiled a 7-1 record on the mound. In 55 innings, he struck out 17 and walked eight. He maintained a 2.77 ERA. Offensively, Forrester batted .377 with three doubles and eight walks. He drove in 12 and scored 19 runs.
A third baseman, Fortunato led the Big Macs in batting with a .464 average. Of his 32 hits, nine went for doubles, one for a triple and another for a homer. He led the club in RBI with 20 and runs scored with 21. Fortunato also managed a team-high 12 walks, nine stolen bases and sacrifices.
Two star for BP
Logan Corrigan and Dakota Forsyth paced Bethel Park to a 17-5 record. Both earned all-section acclaim as well as played for the Quad-A all-stars in the WPIAL feature game.
A senior, Corrigan batted .448 with a .554 on-base percentage and an .821 slugging average thanks to four home runs. He drove in 18 and scored 20 runs.
A four-year starter, who guided BP to three playoff appearances, Corrigan compiled a 5-1 record on the mound. The southpaw fanned 29 batters in 26 innings. Defensively, said BP skipper Tony Fisher, Corrigan was a “sound” first baseman. He will play college baseball at James Madison University.
A senior, Forsyth will attempt to walk on at Penn State. He batted 386 with a .527 on-base percentage. He scored 18 times and drove in 18 runs. A four-year starter at shortstop, Forsyth helped BP compile a 49-14 record in the past three seasons. “He is without a doubt, the best defensive infielder in the South Hills,” said Fisher.
Bahm leads Lebo
Mt. Lebanon enjoyed a successful rebuilding year thanks to the play of Zach Bahm. After reaching the state semifinals last spring and losing eight starters, the Blue Devils returned to the playoffs after finishing 7-3 and tied for second place in Section 5 because of Bahm’s play on the mound and at first place.
The junior posted a 5-2 record on the mound. Four of his wins were complete games and two were shutouts. He struck out 41.
“Zach’s pitching carried us through the section,” said Patt McCloskey. “With our relatively inexperienced team, his consistency and endurance allowed us to make the playoffs. His going seven innings so often took the pressure off the rest of the staff.”
Once the pressure on his injured ankle abated, Bahm also contributed offensively. He tied for top honors on the team with 11 RBI. He also smashed a team-high two homers.
“Zach really gutted it out for us each time his number was called and he finished the year back in the line-up and hit amazingly well with 10 RBI and two homers in his last five games. He should be one of our better hitters next year.”
Fetchet a hit
Not just in football and wrestling, but baseball as well, Michael Fetchet was a hit for South Fayette. The senior helped the Lions earn a playoff berth after finishing behind CV and KO in the section standings. The Columbia University wrestling recruit earned his second appearance on the Almanac Diamond Dozen list. He also gained all-section honors for the second season in a row.
During the 6-4 regular season, he ranked among the top hitters in the WPIAL with a .463 average. An outfielder, who has helped throw out runners at the plate, also contributed as a pitcher for the Lions, who finished 10-9 overall.
A senior, Chris Watschak earned All-Section honors and he participated for the Quad-A during the WPIAL Coaches Association’s all-star game. He doubled as a pitcher and first baseman for the Peters Township, which finished 5-5 in the section but 13-6 overall.
Watschak led the team with a .473 average. Of his 26 hits, five went for doubles, three for round trippers and one for a triple. He drove in a team-high 21 runs and scored 12 times.
Just a junior, David Boehme ranked among the top hitters in the WPIAL. He also led Seton-La Salle to a third-place finish (8-6) in Section 1-AA and a post-season playoff berth, where the Rebels lost to Riverside, 2-1, in the first round.
Boehme batted .450 (23-for-51). He clubbed three homers and drove in 20 runs. When he didn’t start in the infield, Boehme took to the mound and proved Seton-La Salle’s ace. He posted a 3-1 record with a 1.76 ERA. He walked only three batters.
Among the players receiving honorable mention included:
• David Lemley, Ryan Dodson, Corey Lazor, Tyler Grashoff, Luc Cox, Ryan Kogler, Jake McCall from Bethel Park.
An Otterbein recruit, Lemley started at third base for the second year in a row for the Hawks. He batted .423 with a .481 on-base percentage. He led BP in RBI with 28. Lemley also ripped nine doubles, a triple and a home run.
A senior, Dodson batted .446 as BP’s designated hitter. His on-base percentage was .506. The Davis & Elkins recruit belted 13 doubles, a triple and two homers. He drove in 24 runs.
A senior, Lazor started two years in center field for the Hawks. He batted .378 with a .446 on-base average. He scored 21 times, drove in 18 runs and swiped seven bases. Named all-section, Lazor was one of the best defensive outfielders in the area, says BP manager Tony Fisher. “He made game-changing catches in the gaps and threw out runners at home with his arm. He is an unsung hero-type, one of those players that fly under the radar. He was our best-kept secret and instrumental in our success.”
A senior, Grashoff posted a 4-3 record on the mound with a 1.83 ERA. He struck out 44 in 46 innings. He was 11-3 in his career. “Tyler had the ball in some of our biggest games,” said Fisher. Grashoff will pitch at Alderson-Broaddus next season.
A senior, Cox also pitched for BP, sporting a 4-0 record with 27 strikeouts in 20 innings. He is bound for California University of Pennsylvania.
A senior, Kogler started the past two seasons in left field for the Hawks. He batted .328 with 23 runs and nine stolen bases.
A senior, McCall started three years in right field for BP. He batted .308 with nine stolen bases and 19 runs scored.
• Nico DiPaolo and Jim Dlugos from Bishop Canevin. This duo led the Crusaders to a runner-up showing in Section 2A with a 7-3 slate before falling to West Mifflin, 10-1, in the playoffs and finishing 8-6 overall. The pair of infielders each earned all-section honors and participated in the WPIAL Coaches Association’s all-star game.
• Justin Davey, Brandon Kildare, Zack Pollack, Teagan Piechnick, Buzz Boggio from Canon-McMillan.
A senior, Davey led the Big Macs with 27 RBI. The first baseman batted .413 with seven doubles. He walked 10 times and scored 14 runs.
A senior center fielder, Kildare had a great season says CM manager Frank Zebrasky. He batted .419 with a team-high on-base percentage of .548. He scored a team-high 23 runs and drove in 18. He clubbed two homers and four doubles.
A junior, Pollack played shortstop and second base for the Big Macs. “He was a sturdy fielder,” said Zebrasky, “and he provided us with several clutch hits.” Pollack batted .355 with nine RBI and seven runs scored. His 10 walks upped his on-base percentage to .535.
A junior, Piechnick provided steady play, particularly through the second half of the season, says Zebrasky. A starter at short as well as in the outfield, he batted .338 with a .446 on-base percentage. He scored 17 runs and drove in 14.
A junior, Boggio at one point in the season had thrown out 15 of 18 runners attempting to steal a base. He finished throwing out 23 of 35 would-be base thieves in his first varsity season behind the plate. Boggio, who batted .300 with a .424 on-base percentage, also pitched for the Big Macs.
• Dylan Pounds. This senior led Chartiers-Houston to a quarterfinal showing in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs after finishing tied for third place in Section 2 with Bentworth. Both were 9-5 in the division. The Bucs finished 12-8 overall after upsetting Steel Valley in the first round of the playoffs and falling to Shady Side Academy in the quarterfinals. Pounds earned all-section honors as a pitcher but he also excelled as an infielder for the Bucs when he wasn’t on the mound. Additionally, Pounds participated in the
• Dom Castello, Josh Lapiana, Ryan Reicoff—Chartiers Valley. As a catcher, Castello earned all-section honors. Lapiana excelled on the mound, racking up a 4-0 record during the regular season. Reicoff posted a 4-1 mark on the mound for the Colts.
• Ryan Rosato and Brandon Gresh. This tandem helped Keystone Oaks boast one of the best defenses in the WPIAL. The Golden Eagles committed just 18 errors and maintained a .973 fielding average as a team.
A senior, Rosato earned his third all-section honor at shortstop while manager Scott Crimone said Gresh possessed the best glove in the section at the hot corner. The third baseman batted .300 for the Golden Eagles with 12 runs, 17 RBI, three doubles, a triple and a double. Rosato socked four doubles and a triple to go along with 18 runs and 12 RBI. Dual athletes at KO, Rosato will play hockey at Pitt while Bresh will play baseball at Grove City.
• Matt McGraw, Darren Zaslau, Brad Bekampis, Brendan Depp from Mt. Lebanon.
A senior, McGraw gained all-section honors and according to manager Patt McCloskey had the best defensive season he’s seen out of a catcher in our program. He allowed only one passed ball and threw out 75 percent of would-be base thieves. He batted .295 and he also had huge plays for Lebo by throwing out runners on balls in the dirt.
“He was an absolute leader,” said McCloskey. “He is just a tough competitive kid. He provided the type of leadership that we needed to be successful with such a young pitching staff.”
A senior, Zaslau started at shortstop and was “rock solid” defensively. He batted .317 and did an “exceptional” job of manufacturing runs for the Blue Devils. He walked five times, was hit twice, sacrificed four times, swiped three of five bases and drove in five runs.
A senior outfielder, Bekampis batted lead-off or third for the Blue Devils. He consistenly hit the ball hard and played through significant pain due to a back injury. According to McCloskey, his defense was nothing sort of outstanding. “He made a lot of great plays that saved some huge runs. He had huge shoes to fill and our defense didn’t miss a beat because of his efforts.”
A senior outfielder, Depp batted .294. He drove in key runs, including against Peters Township, which enabled Lebo to clinch a playoff spot. He also had a game-saving catch to preserve a win against Canon-Mac.
• Phil Pisarcik, Matt Loether, Max Augenstein, Adam Becker from Peters Township.
A junior second baseman, Pisarcik batted .386 with 17 runs. With seven walks, his on-base percentage swelled to .500. He also smacked two doubles.
A senior right fielder, Loether batted .389 with 17 runs, five doubles and a triple. His 12 walks increased his on-base percentage to .519.
A senior shortstop, Becker drove in 18 and smashed five doubles. He batted .286.
A junior, Augenstein posted a 3-0 record with one save. He struck out 24 and owned a 2.43 ERA.
• Zach Walker—A pitcher, Walker ranked among the strikeout leaders in the WPIAL with 47 Ks during the regular season. He helped South Fayette to a third-place finish in Section 3-AA. The Lions finished 10-9 overall after falling to West Allegheny, 8-5, in the playoffs.
• Ian Frazier, Adam Kraskey, Ben Haus, Anthony Pezzone, Gannon Rooney, Joel Klein, Sam Pavlic—Upper St. Clair.
A senior, Frazier earned all-section honors as a catcher. He batted .328 with two homers and 17 RBI for the Panthers, who finished 8-12 overall.
All juniors, Kraskey, Haus and Pezzone made up the best outfield defensively, corner to corner that Jerry Malarkey has had in his 29 years as manager. They also ranked among the team’s top four hitters all season long.
Kraskey batted .373 with 14 runs and one round tripper. He swiped 13 bases.
While Pezzone batted .261, Haus maintained a .310 average with 13 runs, 11 RBI and one home run.
As pitchers, Pavlic maintained a 1.00 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 14 innings and Klein had a 2.56 ERA.
A junior infielder, Rooney batted .314 with two homers and 10 RBI.
Riggle a top rookie
Nick Riggle from Keystone Oaks shares Almanac Rookie of the Year honors with previously mentioned Tanner Garris from rival Chartiers Valley.
A freshman, Riggle was responsible for a walk-off triple that propelled the Golden Eagles to victory, 1-0, over West Allegheny in the consolation contest and sent KO into the state playoffs. He also had the key RBI-single in a 3-0 win against South Park in the PIAA tournament.
“Nick came up with clutch hits when we needed them and he played excellent first base,” said KO manager Scott Crimone. “He had an outstanding season and hit very well for a freshman.”
Riggle batted .306 with 17 runs and 16 RBI. He smashed six doubles. He also maintained a .992 fielding average.
Players To Watch
Among the players to watch include:
• Corey Augenstein and Zac Forsyth from Bethel Park.
A sophomore, Augenstein posted a 3-1 record with a pair of saves. He owned a 0.99 ERA and opponents batted .148 against hime. He struck out 50 in 35 innings. He posted his biggest win against Franklin Regional in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.
A sophomore second baseman, Forsyth batted. 375 with a .453 on-base percentage. He drove in 18 runs for the Hawks.
• Jared Beach, Connor Coleman, Luke Blanock from Canon-McMillan.
A freshman, Coleman started in left field whenever Kevin Forrester pitched. He batted .370 with a .529 on-base perecentage. “Connor is going to be a very good player,” predicted Zebrasky.
A sophomore, Blanock picked up two wins and two saves as a pitcher. As a designated hitter, he batted .450 with seven runs. His on-base percentage was .529.
A sophomore, Beach had three assists as an outfielder. In his first varsity season as a starter, he batted .396 with a .493 on-base percentage. Beach scored 20 runs and drove in 19. He socked eight doubles and three home runs.
• Eddie Jenkins, Vince D’orazio, Robert Klinchock from Mt. Lebanon.
A three-sport athlete, who could become Lebo’s next Luke Hagy, Jenkins hit .308 from his designated hitter slot. He is also an outstanding defensive middle infielder, who has an excellent chance to start the next three years as Lebo’s lead-off hitter, says McCloskey.
A sophomore second baseman, D’orazio batted .370 as either Lebo’s lead-off batter or No. 3 hitter. He led Lebo in hits (20) and runs scored (14). “He was a great catalyst for us on offense,” said McCloskey, “and his defense was one of the reasons for our success.”
A sophomore first baseman, Klinchock batted .400, tops on the team. He struck out only six times in 47 plate appearances as a clean-up batter. He drove in 11 runs. As a pitcher, he owned a 2.70 ERA.
• Phil Mary. This Peters Township sophomore helped the Indians win two games. “He socked a clutch hit in one and a perfect suicide squeeze bunt in the other,” said manager Joe Maize. He also contributed as a pitcher and helped the club defensively in the outfield.
• Danzell Lewis, Carson Rebel and Nico Poppa from Seton-La Salle.
A catcher, Lewis batted .418 with five home runs and 17 RBI in his sophomore season.
As a pitcher, Rebel won two games and finished with a 3.13 ERA. When not on the mound, he doubled as a second baseman for the Rebels. The sophomore batted .363.
Poppa started every game for the Rebels, who finished 8-9 overall. The freshman infielder also batted .272.