Gateway baseball making run at Section 3-5A title

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Friday, April 19, 2019 | 8:48 PM


Gateway baseball coach Mark Wardzinski said at the start of the season his relatively young team had the pieces in place to make a run at the Section 3-5A championship and qualify for the WPIAL playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

So far, the Gators, with just three seniors on the roster, are proving him right.

Gateway stood at 8-4 overall and 5-1 in section play through a recent stretch of three games in three days. Included in that stretch was a matchup against section rival Franklin Regional and former section foe Plum.

“We’re playing really well right now,” Wardzinski said. “A lot of guys are contributing. The guys come ready to play each game.”

Gateway began that three-day string of games with a 7-4 win in section over Kiski Area in 10 innings April 16. The Gators had leads of 3-1 and 4-3, but the Cavaliers rallied each time before Gateway put it away.

The next day, Franklin Regional led 5-0 after four innings before the Gators mounted a rally. But the Panthers held on for a 7-4 victory to improve to 6-0 in section play.

The rematch with Franklin Regional is May 8, but Wardzinski said his team couldn’t look too far ahead with several challenging section games looming before then.

“It’s the same thing every time about taking one game at a time,” said Wardzinski, who points to close section wins over Armstrong, 3-1, and Fox Chapel, 1-0, in the first half as examples of the stiff section competition.

“Woodland Hills and Penn Hills both jumped out on us and got leads. The section is good, and we have to be focused each time.”

Gateway and Plum, now separated by classification after several years as section rivals, capped the Gators’ three-games-in-three-days stretch Thursday under the lights at Gateway High School.

Gateway rallied from a 3-1 deficit to lead 5-3, but Plum came back to tie the game and later win it 8-5 with three runs in the ninth.

“We took a pretty good Plum team to nine innings,” Wardzinski said. “Their record right now (6-7 overall) might not reflect how good they are, but they always have guys who can hit the ball, pitch well and play defense.”

When those three games were completed, with the two extra-inning contests, the Gateway players were on the field for 26 innings over the three days.

“The guys held up really well,” Wardzinski said. “They are gamers. All these guys have played the game for many years, and they were ready to play a lot of baseball in that short amount of time. They don’t quit until that last pitch.”

Gateway was to return to section action Tuesday against Woodland Hills. The game was to be played past the deadline for this week’s edition. The Gators are slated to visit Penn Hills for a section game at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Gateway will face a second three-game stretch as nonsection contests against Norwin and McKeesport are set for Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Juniors Anthony Cammuso and Jaired Lehman, senior Ethan Frenchik and sophomore Joe Schulte have led the pitching staff. In all, seven have consumed innings on the mound this season.

Cammuso logged a team-best 22 innings through the game against Plum. He pitched into the seventh and allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out six in Gateway’s shutout win over Fox Chapel.

“When Anthony’s in the zone, he’s on,” Wardzinski said. “He hits his spots, and he has a nice curve ball. He did a very good job keeping Fox Chapel’s batters off balance.”

Junior Jordan Stancovich led the offense with a .450 average (18 of 40), including a team-best five extra-base hits (four doubles, one triple), through 12 games.

Other offensive leaders have been Cammuso (14 RBIs) and senior Brendan Majocha (12 runs scored).

Lehman recorded a team-high nine walks in 12 games. He drew a walk-off walk in the bottom of the seventh as Gateway topped Hampton, 5-4, in its nonsection season opener.

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

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