Friday, April 18, 2014

Chartiers-Houston baseball on a roll in Class AA

C-H junior pitcher Alec Ferrari

After Chartiers-Houston's baseball team lost a close 2-0 game April 7 to Section 2-AA rival Wash High, Buccaneers head coach Vince Capozza gathered his team in right field of Washington Park's Colt Field.

Capozza was upset after his team stranded runners on base and failed to capitalize when the Prexies' offense struggled.

The first-year head coach made his team run sprints and while I’m sure the Chartiers-Houston players were disappointed about the extra work after a loss, they seem to have responded perfectly.

Since that rainy day, the Bucs are on a six-game winning streak that has them firmly in second place behind Wash High in the section and during that span they have averaged 6.5 runs per game.

It hasn’t been a one-man show either. Chartiers-Houston is winning on a team effort behind the strong pitching of junior Alec Ferrari. With one of the best defensive outfielders in Class AA – featuring senior left fielder Jake Jones, senior center fielder Miles Williamson and senior right fielder Tyler Day – the Bucs will be a handful.

Also, senior catcher Doug DiNardo adds a strong defensive presence behind the plate and an ability to drive in runs as C-H’s cleanup hitter. Many wondered how the Bucs would stack up in 2014 after reaching the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals last season. Under Capozza’s leadership, Chartiers-Houston looks destined to make noise once postseason play begins.

It always helps having a starting pitcher like Ferrari, who mixes a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball, changeup and occasionally, a knuckleball. The junior has quickly established himself as a hard-throwing right hander with the ability to keep opponents guessing. In C-H’s 9-4 win over Brownsville on Wednesday, Ferrari struck out 11 and pitched a complete game.

It was one of the better pitching performances I have seen, especially considering the magnitude of the situation. Section 2-AA contains some of the best talent in the classification and a loss could have jeopardized the Bucs’ playoff hopes.

They snuck in last year by tying for third place with Bentworth, but down years for the Bearcats and Charleroi have the section standings looking clear-cut. It looks like Wash High, Chartiers-Houston (5-1, 7-1) and Brownsville will be postseason bound; barring a late-season collapse. The Prexies (6-1, 8-3) are finding offense from across their lineup and junior Jonathan Spina is starting to regain his 2013 form, while the Falcons (6-2, 7-4) have arguably the section’s best offensive player – junior catcher Shane Roebuck.

The Bucs have already completed the season-sweep of Brownsville, but a second matchup is looming with Wash High. The two teams face one another with a potential section title on the line April 28 at Allison Park Elementary in Houston.

After the first game ended with the eventual game-winning run scoring on a passed ball, it will be interesting to see if Chartiers-Houston’s players have revenge on their minds.

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