Saturday, May 3, 2014

Peters Township baseball clinches postseason berth with veteran-heavy lineup

Peters Township senior Mitch Bianco
Peters Township’s baseball team flexed its muscles and displayed its plethora of experience Friday in a 9-6 comeback victory over rival Canon-McMillan.

The Indians entered this season with question marks at catcher, first base, shortstop and right field; but seem to have found answers for each position.

Peters Township’s roster includes 11 seniors and 11 juniors with a ton of talent on offense and defense. Here is how the Indians’ lineup looked against the Big Macs:

Phil Pisarcik, second baseman, junior

Cameron Asbell, first baseman, junior

Frank Jezioro, center fielder, senior

Brett McIntosh, designated hitter, junior

Max Augenstein, pitcher, senior

Ryan Tassone, shortstop, junior

Ethan Anderson, left fielder, junior

Mitch Bianco, right fielder, senior

Jack Bittel, catcher, senior

Kyle Lewis, third baseman, junior

It’s a lineup filled with experienced compared to Canon-McMillan’s, which included three sophomores and two juniors. The veterans for the Indians have played great defensively with Tassone being a standout at shortstop.

The double play combination with Pisarcik, who Peters Township head coach Joe Maize called one of the best middle infielders in the WPIAL, gives the Indians an advantage that most teams don’t possess. Maize also told me during the preseason that there would be two keys for PT to make the playoffs: defense and pitching.

His team has provided both with four senior pitchers and one junior. After a loss to Bethel Park Thursday night, the game was a must win for Peters Township and when it trailed by five runs in the third inning, it looked like the WPIAL playoffs were escaping them.

That’s when its veteran batting order produced timely hits and Canon-McMillan made untimely mistakes. It was a strange game with close calls on diving catches in the outfield, errand throws because of field conditions and there was always a sense that both teams didn’t exactly like each other.

Pisarcik went 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBI and two walks as the Indians’ lead-off hitter and while their offense only produced one extra base hit, Peters Township hit the ball hard enough to force mental errors.

Maize had not seen a win like it in years and I wasn’t totally surprised by the statement. His team seemed to be done when senior right-handed pitcher Tyler Schmidt took over for Augenstein in the third, but it was the reliever who gave PT the energy it needed.

10 strikeouts in five innings with just two hits allowed – one of which came on a bunt single on the second batter he faced. It was exactly the pitching performance Maize imagined from his senior-laden team that is ready for the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.

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