Two players from a state championship team a third-round Major League Baseball draft pick and two other players form WPIAL championship teams highlight the MSA Sports Diamond Studs team for 2011.
The team is made up of the top 12 players in the WPIAL as picked by the MSA Sports staff. The two players from a state championship team are Alain Girman and Chris Miller of Serra. The third-round draft pick is Justin Bianco of Peters Township. The other two players from WPIAL championship teams are John Sansone of Neshannock and Dan Altavilla of Elizabeth Forward.
Here is a look at the Diamond Studs and also the Player of the Year.
2011 WPIAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
ELIZABETH FORWARD – P SS
A senior Altavilla was the main reason Elizabeth Forward won the WPIAL Class AAA championship with a perfect record and made it to the state semifinals. Since the WPIAL went to two classifications in 1979 EF was only the fourth team to win a WPIAL title with a perfect record.
Altavilla did just about everything for Elizabeth Forward except line the field.
"How often do you have a kid who qualifies in every statistical category that the Post-Gazette ran this year — offensively and pitching?" said Elizabeth Forward coach Frank Champ. "Not only was he just a great pitcher but he was one of my best infielders — I think he may have had one error all season ?Ai and then you look at what he did with the bat."
Altavilla had an 11-1 record with the only loss coming in the PIAA semifinals. He pitched 77 innings and had an ERA of 0.55. He allowed only 30 hits and struck out 111. At the plate Altavilla batted about .450 with six home runs.
Altavilla will play next season at Mercyhurst.
PETERS TOWNSHIP – OF
Bianco is already a professional baseball player. He signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks after being taken in the third round of the Major League Baseball draft. He had signed with Pitt but changed his mind about playing college baseball after the Diamondbacks drafted him and he got $369 000 to sign.
Bianco helped Peters Township reach the WPIAL Class AAAA title game this season. He batted .581 with 15 extra-base hits. He had 10 doubles three triples and two home runs to go along with 29 RBIs and 22 runs scored.
CONNELLSVILLE – SS OF P
This Connellsville Falcon was flying high as one of the WPIAL's best players this season. Leonard batted .556 with three doubles five triples and three home runs. He also had 20 RBIs and 22 runs scored. Leonard also made five appearances as a pitcher and had a 2-0 record.
Leonard is an outstanding athlete. He scored more than 1 000 points in basketball and also was one of Connellsville's top golfers. He had signed with North Carolina State to play baseball but like Bianco he also signed a pro contract after being drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 9th round.
CHARTIERS VALLEY – 3B
Horew played shortstop most of his career but moved to third base this season and was excellent offensively and defensively. He was among the top 20 hitters in the WPIAL during the regular season and finished with a .541 average. He also had five home runs 26 RBIs and 30 runs scored. His brother Jake was another top hitter for Chartiers Valley.
Luke will play next season at Calhoun Junior College in Georgia.
HOPEWELL – C
Rubino has been one of the WPIAL's best home-run hitters the past two seasons. He had 11 as a junior and hit four as a senior as teams pitched around him much more. Rubino was walked 22 times this season. He finished with a .444 average three doubles four home runs and 16 RBIs in helping Hopewell reach the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals.
Rubino has signed with Pitt.
CENTRAL VALLEY – IF P
The WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association picked Urtz the Class AAA player of the year. A senior Urtz hit .510 during the regular season and helped Central Valley earn a WPIAL playoff berth. He also pitched and finished with a 6-2 record. Urtz is a good athlete also participating in cross country and basketball at Central Valley.
Urtz will play next season at Seton Hill where his brother Kevin plays.
SHADY SIDE ACADEMY – P
Many of Shady Side Academy opponents came under a Hartz attack this season. A junior Hartz was gigantic in Shady Side's run to a section title and a 16-2 record. In the regular season he was among the WPIAL leaders in several statistical categories.
He was eighth in hitting at .581 tied for third in home runs with seven and tied for sixth in RBIs with 28. He also was 5-1 as a pitcher with 62 strikeouts.
WAYNESBURG – C
Only a junior McCaw was the WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association Class AA Player of the Year. He was good defensively but really shined with a bat in his hands.
He finished the regular season tied for third in the WPIAL in home runs with seven and was second in RBIs with 35. He helped Waynesburg reach the WPIAL Class AA championship game.
SERRA CATHOLIC – P OF
Girman is a junior and has been pitching for Serra's varsity since his freshman year. In three years he has yet to taste defeat as a pitcher. He finished his junior year with a 24-0 career record and won the PIAA Class A championship with a three-hitter.
Girman whose fastball reaches the low 90s finished this season with a 9-0 record and a 0.63 ERA. He allowed only five earned runs and 20 hits in 55 innings. He also struck out 108. He also hit .418 with four doubles three triples and three home runs.
SERRA CATHOLIC – C P
It was often Miller time hitting ?Ai and pitching ?Ai for Serra. Miller had an impressive .627 batting average for the PIAA Class A champions and showed plenty of power. He had seven doubles and five home runs to go along with 28 RBIs and 34 runs scored. But he also developed into Serra's No. 2 pitcher this season behind Alain Girman. Miller finished with an 8-0 record with a 1.17 ERA. He allowed only 26 hits in 42 innings and struck out 77.
Miller senior has signed to play next season at the University of Akron.
NESHANNOCK – OF
Some opposing coaches called Sansone the best hitter in the WPIAL this season. The statistics back up the claim. Sansone led the entire WPIAL in hitting during the regular season and finished with a .661 average for the WPIAL Class A champion Lancers. In 62 at-bats he had 11 doubles two triples and five home runs. He scored 34 runs and had 25 RBIs and struck out only three times. In addition he stole 16 bases.
Sansone is a junior and already is being recruited by Division I colleges.
CALIFORNIA – IF P
Conway a junior always seemed to do things the right way for California — in a number of different areas. He helped the team to a 16-5 record and the Trojans made it to the WPIAL Class A semifinals. Conway finished the regular season as the third-leading hitter in the WPIAL with a .655 average. He led the entire WPIAL in RBIs with 40. He also scored 22 runs.
On top of that he was 4-0 as a pitcher.