Finding pitchers to replace 6 who graduated key for Penn-Trafford baseball team

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Tuesday, March 22, 2022 | 6:10 PM


Most baseball coaches would be concerned after the bulk of their pitching staff graduated.

But not Penn-Trafford coach Dan Miller.

He is excited to see what players are ready to step up and fill the holes left by the six graduates: Riley Bellan, Trevor Wilson, Tyler Hoover, Zach Hoffman, Tommy Kusinsky and Joe MacIntosh. Wilson (Gardner-Webb) and Hoover (Canisius) are playing in college.

Miller lists 14 players on the roster who could see time on the hill this season. The top two pitchers entering Monday’s opener against Connellsville are juniors Dylan Grabowski and Nolan Marasti.

“I feel comfortable with Dylan and Nolan,” Miller said. “Last year, we had a couple guys that were strictly pitchers. We have more pitchers this season that are position players. We need to find that three, four and five guys.”

Penn-Trafford will be young again. Miller played a lot of underclassmen last season when the Warriors went 13-7 overall, 6-4 in Section 1-5A. The Warriors defeated Connellsville, 2-0, in the opening round of the WPIAL playoffs before losing to West Allegheny, 7-6.

The Warriors graduated four starters, but back are junior catcher Jakob Haynes, second baseman Grabowski, junior shortstop Jacob Otto, sophomore center fielder Jason Sabol, senior outfielder Matt Lichota and junior third baseman Peyton Bigler.

Haynes, whom Miller said is a Division-I prospect, is sidelined with an injury. While Haynes recovers, sophomores Ian Temple and Roman Sisco will share the duties.

“Since I became the coach in 2015, we’ve always had a top-notch catcher that has gone and played in college,” Miller said. “That hasn’t changed with Jakob.”

Miller said he’s looking for candidates at first base and the outfield. Junior Brady Lane and sophomore Chuck Fontana III are vying for first base, and senior Owen Rain, sophomore Braden Boss and sophomore Tyler Frees are battling for the outfield spot.

“We have some work to do,” Miller said. “We hang our hat on playing good defense. Last year we were young and inexperienced. This year, we’re still young, but we have more experience.

“We have three individuals on the team that played on the PIAA championship football team. They understand what it takes to be successful. That’s something you can’t teach.”

Miller said the section again will be strong with Franklin Regional, the returning WPIAL Class 5A champion, leading the way. He also expects Latrobe will be stronger and that Gateway, Kiski Area and McKeesport to be difficult teams to beat.

“We need to be clean on defense and help the pitchers,” Miller said. “If the defense is solid, pitchers can pitch to contact and not worrying about striking out everyone.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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