After winning share of section title, Pine-Richland looks forward to promising future

Sunday, June 12, 2022 | 9:01 AM

The 2022 season for Pine-Richland baseball culminated with a shared Section 1-6A title with North Allegheny for the Rams after a rare postseason miss in 2021.

It was an accomplishment that bodes well for future seasons, but it also provided a nice sendoff for five seniors — Andy Swartout, Tyler Armstrong, Nate Zavasky, Joseph Connell and Jason Komaromy — who went through a lot in the last three seasons.

First there was the canceled 2020 campaign because of the pandemic. Then, there was the rash of injuries to key players that contributed to the playoff miss.

In the final act, they guided one of the youngest teams Pine-Richland has had in the long coaching tenure of Kurt Wolfe and were rewarded for their perseverance.

“I’m really happy for the seniors that stuck with it,” Wolfe said. “That senior class had a rough time. When they were freshmen we had over double digits in that class. Then covid hit during their sophomore season and the junior season we missed the playoffs for the first time in a really long time. Those five seniors chose to stick with the program and helped the younger kids learn what Pine-Richland baseball is all about. They led by example, and they deserve a lot of credit.”

Two of the biggest moments belonged to seniors.

Armstrong doubled in the bottom of the seventh as part of a seven-run comeback against Seneca Valley in a 11-10 victory finishing off a sweep.

Swartout pitched eight innings in a 2-1 walk-off win against North Allegheny that secured a share of the section championship.

The Rams were stymied by Madden Clement and Butler in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs, losing 5-0. Clement pitched a three-hitter and had 10 strikeouts. On top of that, he went 3 for 4 at the plate with a two-run homer.

In the regular season, Pine-Richland worked long at-bats and forced Clement out of the game due to pitch count after four innings but ended up losing 7-2. In the playoff rematch, Wolfe said Clement’s fastball was sharper with an uptick in velocity, which made him even more difficult to solve.

“We just ran into one of the best pitchers in the WPIAL in Madden Clement,” Wolfe said. “Hat’s off to him. He pitched a heck of a game. We have to deal with him again next year, so we’ve got to figure out how to do so and figure it out quickly.”

Pine-Richland was exceptional in close games, going 7-2 in games decided by two runs or less.

There’s plenty to look forward to as well.

Jacob McGuire, who has been a starting pitcher each of the last two years, will be a senior next year. Anthony Mengine was the lone freshman who was named first-team all-section. Owen Henne and Joey Perry are underclassmen who were named to the second team, while Peyton Ford and McGuire were honorable mentions.

They are part of a core that tasted success and look primed for more in the future.

“What I really like about the young kids is not only did they get the experience of winning a section and having success, but also saw high quality 6A baseball in our section,” Wolfe said. “We scheduled a difficult nonsection schedule as well. Not only are they a talented group, but they are a gritty group. They have a refuse-to-lose mentality. I enjoy their approach toward baseball and also the brotherhood they have toward each other.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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