Bethel Park closer Cody Geddes wraps up state title with clutch performance

Sunday, June 27, 2021 | 11:01 AM

Bethel Park’s Eric Chalus and Evan Holewinski proved to be one of the most dynamic pitching tandems in the state this season.

Chalus, a left-handed senior headed to Kent State, racked up an impressive 11-0 record and 0.97 ERA, striking out 91 in 72 innings while issuing only four walks.

Holewinski, a right-handed sophomore, finished with a 6-1 mark and 0.50 ERA, fanning 42 batters in 41.2 innings. He allowed only three earned runs all season and walked just one opponent.

Chalus and Holewinski, Bethel Park’s double dose of Vitamin E on the mound, led the Black Hawks to the PIAA Class 5A title. Bethel Park also was the WPIAL runner-up.

Nonetheless, one of the unsung heroes on the championship squad was junior third baseman Cody Geddes, who logged a team-high five saves and a 1-0 record in his closer’s role in relief.

“Cody has been outstanding this year,” coach Pat Zehnder said. “He handles those pressure situations very well, and when he is on, he arguably has the best stuff of any of our pitchers.

“I cannot say enough about the mental toughness he showed and the grit he used to finish the semi and the final, in particular. Those were unbelievably tough situations, and he found a way to get the job done in the tightest spots against the best competition.

“I also need to mention the great defensive plays by David Kessler (SS), Jason Nuttridge (RF), Eric Chalus (CF) and John Chalus (C) throughout the playoffs that helped save some runs.”

Offensively, Geddes hit .353 with 26 RBIs and 25 runs scored this season. He compiled a miniscule 0.45 ERA (one earned run) with 15 strikeouts in 15.2 innings of relief pitching.

But it was his clutch performance in his team’s 4-2 win against Red Land in the PIAA finals that vaulted him into the spotlight.

With runners on second and third with no outs in the top of the seventh, Geddes, utilizing his go-to pitch, his fastball, was at his absolute best in mowing down the next three Red Land hitters.

Geddes resolutely and calmly induced a grounder to third, struck out the next batter and escaped the jam via a game-inning and title-clinching grounder to second.

The two Patriots runners remained frozen on the bases.

“My role in the last inning was to end the game,” Geddes said, “and, yes, it was a lot of pressure just because it was the state championship and it was to save the game.

“When I went out to the mound for the last inning, I just said to myself, ‘Let’s do this thing. We worked too hard to get to where we are right now to not win this game, and I’m not going home again with a silver medal.’”

Geddes’ batterymate behind the plate was sophomore John Chalus, who enjoyed a bird’s-eye view of the stellar relief performance.

“Cody did a great job and made adjustments when needed, which is what makes him a good pitcher,” said the Bethel Park catcher. “I did notice a difference in his curveball velocity (compared to Eric Chalus’ in the previous inning), not as much in the fastballs but in the curveballs. Eric threw hard all game.”

Geddes opened the contest with a two-run triple in the first inning. Senior first baseman Zack Sackett and Kessler, a junior, added an RBI apiece to give the Black Hawks a 4-0 lead after two frames.

Chalus, the winning pitcher, tossed six innings before reaching his pitch-count limit, setting the scene for Geddes in his relief role in the seventh.

“The win is everything,” Geddes said. “It’s one of the best feelings ever because we worked so hard all season and we deserved this, especially after the loss in the WPIAL championship game.

“We knew we had to work even harder and come together even better, and we did. No matter what, we would have each other’s back.”

The Black Hawks naturally were in a mood to celebrate after clinching the second PIAA baseball championship in school history.

“We celebrated a little bit on the bus ride home from Penn State, blasting music with a speaker and dancing in the aisle,” Eric Chalus said. “As we got closer to Bethel Park, we had a police escort and fire trucks. As we got to the high school, a lot of people from the community were there when we got off the bus.”

Zehnder, who took over as field boss in 2020, was genuinely thankful.

“I’d like to thank the community for their support along the playoff run, and for the fans who came out to Penn State to support the team and welcomed them back,” Zehnder said. “Thank you to the seniors that lost their season in 2020, for everything they contributed to the program. They set the bar for this group.”

Zehnder was assisted by Kyle Nicholson and Joe Ranalli.

“A huge thank you to Kyle and Joe for the guidance they provided all season,” Zehnder said, “even going back to the fall of 2019. Also thanks to the coaches (John Lorenzi, Mike Ryan and Scot Fischer) throughout the rest of the program.

“Most importantly, thank you to this special group of young men that worked together to accomplish the goal they set going back to the beginning of the year, who worked six days per week to build the skills and confidence it takes to climb the mountaintop.”

And it was the right-handed Geddes who secured the No. 1 ranking in the state for the Black Hawks.


More Baseball

Recruiting process takes Freeport pitcher Michael Hanz to the place he belongs
Norwin notebook: Former Knights baseball standout wins Palomino World Series
PONY League World Series begins in Washington County
Younger brother is best friend, inspiration to Chartiers Valley assistant baseball coach
Senior class leaves unprecedented mark on Bethel Park baseball program