Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Carmichaels proves pundits wrong to reach PIAA quarterfinals

Mikes center fielder Ryan Zalar
All of the hype surrounding WPIAL Class A baseball was directed toward California’s undefeated season under first-year head coach Nick Damico, but the Trojans are not one of the eight final teams standing in the state of Pennsylvania.

Carmichaels (15-3) advanced to the PIAA Class A quarterfinals with a 5-4 victory over Southern Fulton Monday at Somerset Area High School – the same day California’s season came to an end at the hands of Cranberry starting pitcher Dylan Cyphert, a Penn State recruit.

The Mikes, whose three losses this season came against California, will face Elk County Catholic (23-0) today at Slippery Rock University at 5:30 p.m..

It’s quite a turn of events after California hoisted the WPIAL Class A title last week at Consol Energy Park. The Trojans seemed invincible, while it was tough to imagine Carmichaels bouncing back from the devastating loss.

Carmichaels proved everyone wrong and will have to do so again when facing Elk County Catholic senior pitcher Brandon Schlimm, a St. Bonaventure recruit who throws a fastball in the high-80s. The Mikes’ chance of winning will hinge on their ability to continue playing the brand of baseball that led them to the WPIAL title game.

A .359 team batting average is evenly distributed among Carmichaels’ lineup with eight of the Mikes’ nine hitters eclipsing the .300 mark. Ryan Zalar, Ty Cole and Michael Blasinsky are batting over .400 for a team that has driven in 124 runs with just two homers.

Carmichaels has taken a “small ball” approach to the game that was inherited from head coach Scott VanSickle’s mentality toward the game.

“That’s the way I play so I kind of push it toward my players,” VanSickle said. “I’m aggressive, I’m intense, I go after it as much as we possibly can because the more pressure you put on somebody, the more likely they are going to crack. If they don’t crack, more power to them. We’re going to go at every single team with our mentality - 110 miles per hour right at them and see what happens.”

Here is a look at Carmichaels’ projected starting lineup with some key stats for its players:

Senior second baseman Brennen McMinn - .333 average with 20 runs and 8 RBI

Senior center fielder Ryan Zalar - .429 average with two doubles, 11 RBI and a team-leading 29 runs

Junior catcher Michael Blasinsky - .472 average with 25 RBI, one home run and 21 runs

Senior shortstop Ty Cole - .444 average, team-leading 30 RBI, team-leading eight doubles and 13 runs

Sophomore pitcher Bill Bowlen - .321 average with eight RBI and eight runs in 14 games

Freshman designated hitter Joel Spishock - .378 average with 9 RBI and seven runs

Senior third baseman Brandon Lawless - .310 average with 12 RBI and four runs

Senior left fielder Ty Aeschbacher - .303 average with 2 RBI and 6 runs

Senior first baseman Justin Newman - .280 average with eight RBI and five runs

Sophomore right fielder Reed Long

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