Ringgold baseball to be tested by Valley View in PIAA baseball title game
By: Jose Negron
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 | 6:30 PM
Not many teams get the opportunity to play for a state championship.
For the first time in program history, the Ringgold baseball team gets that chance.
The Rams will take on District 2 champion Valley View at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the PIAA Class 4A championship game at Penn State's Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
“We are all super excited to take the trip, soak in the whole experience and to win the game,” Ringgold coach Don Roberts said. “It is a great feeling to represent our school and the whole Mon Valley in such a big game to create history. These kids put in so much work, so they deserve it.”
Ringgold (19-4) advanced to the title game with a 3-2 victory over Meadville in the state semifinals Monday.
The Rams picked up just three hits in the victory but relied on the pitching of Ryan Varley to lead them to victory.
In the win, Varley surrendered four hits while walking a pair and striking out 11 in 6 2⁄3 innings.
However, he threw 102 pitches and will not be available to throw in the championship game.
Roberts said he hasn't determined who will get the start on the mound.
On its way to Penn State, Valley View (15-3) defeated Lewisburg and Berks Catholic, before topping Northwestern Lehigh, 7-3, in the semifinals Monday.
“I know we are very similar,” Roberts said. “They seem like they have very deep pitching, and they play very good defense.”
Like the Rams have in Varley, Valley View has a legitimate ace in the form of Lehigh commit Mason Black.
Black, who will get the start, is 7-0 with a 0.56 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 50 innings.
The senior has allowed six runs all season on 27 hits. He has walked just five batters.
“We really couldn't find too much on him other than he is committed to Lehigh and he throws in the upper 80's,” Roberts said. “We will approach this game like we approach all of our games from an offensive standpoint.”
The Valley View offense is led by sophomore Dixon Black, who is hitting .438 with 28 hits — including eight doubles, three triples and two home runs — and 20 RBIs.
Other top offensive contributors include Corey Pezak (.400), Robert Sebastianelli (.346) and Mason Black (.319).
Ringgold also has its share of offensive weapons.
Varley, who'll be at shortstop , is one of the Rams' leading hitters. He's batting .411 with two home runs, 19 RBIs and 23 runs scored, while Koby Bubash is right behind him with a .410 average, 15 RBIs and 21 runs scored.
Luke Winterbottom, a Waynesburg recruit, is second on the team with a .431 average. Bobby Boyer is the team's leading hitter, batting .458 with three home runs and 27 RBIs.
Boyer provided two of the Rams' three hits in their semifinal victory over Meadville. One was a two-run single in the top of the fourth inning that gave Ringgold a 2-1 advantage.
“I expect him to continue to do well. He has driven in a lot of big runs in the playoffs and he has been a major force on offense,” Roberts said of Boyer, who has driven in 12 runs in the playoffs. “We wouldn't be in this game without Bobby Boyer.”
Being that the Rams are playing for a PIAA crown for the first time, Roberts said he expects his team to have some jitters.
However, the experience they've gained throughout this year's WPIAL and PIAA playoff runs might play more of a factor than their inexperience playing for a championship.
“I anticipate a little bit of nerves, but we've played six playoff games so far this year and two last year,” Roberts said. “I feel this group will be OK from all of their previous experience.”
Jose Negron is a Mon Valley Independent staff writer.