Gateway baseball determined to join playoff race in second half of season

Sunday, April 18, 2021 | 11:01 AM

As the Gateway baseball team continues to find its way in what is turning out to be a competitive Section 1 in Class 5A, coach Mark Wardzinski likes the resolute attitude of his players. They’re determined to keep building on the positives and working to smooth any bumps in the road along the way.

The Gators are hoping to see strong results in the last half of the regular season as they battle for a spot in the WPIAL playoff with the likes of section leader Franklin Regional, Latrobe, Kiski Area and Penn-Trafford.

“This team has been aggressive in going after wins,” said Wardzinski, who saw his team go 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the section through a tough 3-2, 12-inning loss to Penn-Trafford on April 13.

“We’ve put the bat on the ball, and we don’t have too many strikeouts. We’ve also gotten some really strong pitching. The guys do what they can to make things happen. Hopefully, that continues.”

Gateway was forced to pause team activities from April 14 through Sunday because of covid protocols.

The second game of its two-game section series against Penn-Trafford was postponed.

“Things had been going pretty well with the team,” Wardzinski said. “They’ve been improving from the start of practices through the first several games. It’s tough, though, to keep that rhythm going when you are shut down for any period of time.”

Wardzinski said he was confident the players would get work in on their own and be as ready as possible to get back to work.

The second Penn-Trafford matchup has been rescheduled for Thursday, and Wardzinski said his players are excited to get back on the field against the Warriors and avenge the loss from the first game.

“It was a great game,” Wardzinski said of the extra-inning battle with the Warriors. “Defensively, there weren’t too many errors. We put the ball in play, and early in the game, we had chances to score runs. They made plays, and we made plays. It just went back and forth all game.”

The game ended on the right side for Penn-Trafford as Peyton Bigler drew a bases-loaded walk to seal the victory.

Both teams collected 11 hits. Sophomore Nate Demchak, junior Grady Otterman and senior Angelo Ross each tallied a pair of hits for the Gators.

Junior Carsen Engleka and freshman Tali Thompson delivered RBIs for Gateway.

“The guys were disappointed with the loss, but they knew they gave it their best shot,” Wardzinski said. “We never gave up and were right with them the entire game.”

Joe Schulte started for Gateway and pitched four innings, giving up one earned run on eight hits while walking three.

Floyd McKenna surrendered three hits and one earned run with two walks and six strikeouts in 7⅔ innings of relief.

“Floyd came in and shut them down,” Wardzinski said. “He did the same in the first game against Kiski. Floyd has been one of our top dogs this year.”

Ryan Greggerson finished the game on the mound for the Gators.

Gateway kicked off its season with a 6-5 nonsection loss to Peters Township on March 30 before bouncing back with a section sweep of Kiski Area, 5-3 and 12-1.

In the first game with the Cavaliers, the Gators rallied from a 3-1 deficit with runs in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

“Our team stays calm in those types of situations, and the guys know they may be down but they’re not out,” Wardzinski said.

Otterman, Ross, Schulte and junior Will Roper each collected RBIs in the victory. Demchack and Greggerson each recorded a pair of hits.

“We have gotten good contributions from everyone this season,” Wardzinski said. “That is how we are going to continue to be successful.”

Demchak, through five games, led the Gators with a .429 average (9 for 21). Schulte produced a team-best nine RBIs and led the way with a pair of home runs.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .


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