Defending WPIAL champion Pine-Richland baseball team to start season shorthanded

Sunday, March 21, 2021 | 10:01 AM

When Pine-Richland takes the field this spring, it will be without a few key players at the start, but that isn’t slowing the Rams’ hunger to defend their WPIAL Class 6A title.

Standout pitchers Tommy Beam, a West Virginia recruit, and West Virginia Wesleyan recruit Gabe Mustovic, along with infielder and Florida Tech recruit Kyle Lenhart will miss the start of the season because of injury.

The hope is to get healthy down the road, but in the meantime Rams coach Kurt Wolfe is excited about the group he has and is ready to go after another title after the 2020 season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the success that Pine-Richland baseball has had, no one is feeling bad for Pine-Richland, and we don’t feel bad for ourselves,” Wolfe said. “We are excited not only about our young guys, but the opportunity to compete and defend our title. We’ll get the guys ready. If we get healthy, great, and if not the other guys will step up and carry the load.

“We’re getting invaluable experience not only for the young guys, but some of the older ones too maybe haven’t had that experience at the varsity level since we haven’t had a season since 2019.”

Another former starter, Jeremiah Hasley, did not come out for the team this year to focus on football, where he has several Division I scholarship offers.

With Beam and Mustovic sidelined, the Rams will rely on Jacob McGuire, Tanner Singh, Sean Connelly, Jason Komaromy, Sam Grana, Owen Henne, Justin Dietz and Andy Swartout to pitch this spring.

“At our scrimmage with Latrobe (last Tuesday), Jacob McGuire really emerged as the front-runner to be one of our aces,” Wolfe said. “The way it is set up with us playing back-to-back section games, you really need two aces. We’re hoping someone else emerges. Tanner Singh has a great arm and great stuff. We think he can be another one for us. We’re going to need all of these guys though, especially early on. Our first week we play four games in seven days. Those guys are going to throw a lot of innings for us this year.”

Chase Vrabel (Wilkes), Kyle Kimoto (Pitt-Bradford), Connelly (John Carroll), Jason Komaromy, McGuire, Henne, John DeSantes and Justin Dietz will make up the infield.

Tyler Armstrong, who committed to Mount St. Mary’s as a junior, will fill a designated hitter/corner infield role, and Joey Woodrow (Juniata) is the catcher.

Singh, Brett Jones, Joseph Connell, Brian Komaromy, Jhackson Gil and Swartout are outfielders.

Singh, Vrabel and Armstrong will anchor the lineup in the middle.

“(Armstrong) has a big lefty stick and he can swing it,” Wolfe said. “We’re looking at him to be a middle of the lineup guy. Chase Vrabel will be a middle of the lineup guy, and Tanner Singh will be too. Those three handle the bat well.”

Pine-Richland is in Section 1 with Allderdice, Butler, Central Catholic, North Allegheny and Butler. Wolfe expects it to be a competitive year not only in the section, but the entirety of Class 6A.

“Of those teams in our section there’s always a good team that doesn’t make it to the playoffs,” Wolfe said. “The other section is really good too.

“Western Pennsylvania has made huge strides since I started coaching in the 90’s. We have Division I kids all over the place. … There’s SEC and ACC commits all over the WPIAL. That was unheard of in the 90s. The quality of players and baseball that’s played in Western Pennsylvania now is impressive.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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