Gateway goes down swinging in WPIAL baseball playoffs

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Sunday, May 22, 2022 | 9:01 AM


A late season surge helped give the Gateway baseball team some confidence entering the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs.

Even though the Gators (9-11) were seeded No. 15, they gave No. 2 Bethel Park all it could handle in the opening round of the playoff tournament before falling 6-5 on a walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh inning last week.

“It was a great game, a lot of fun,” Gateway coach Mark Wardzinski said. “We played our hearts out. I couldn’t have asked for a better effort. We battled to the end.”

Though the season ended early, Wardzinski is looking forward to next year with the return of pitcher Nolan Boehm and top hitters Brody Clemens and Nate Demchak. Both batted. 375.

Demchak had a team-high 21 hits, including a team-high eight doubles, and drove in 10 runs while Clemens had 18 hits and nine RBIs. Boehm batted .294 with 13 RBIs.

“We talked all season to the team about peaking at the end of the season, and that’s what they did,” Wardzinski said. “We played our best ball at the end of the season. Nolan pitched great against Bethel Park.”

Wardzinski said he’s hoping the underclassmen learned what it takes to be a winning program.

He said with Boehm, Demchak and Clemens returning, the team has a solid foundation to build from. He’s expecting two sophomores who played on the junior varsity team and were called up for the playoffs — pitchers/outfielders Alex Dunsmore and Noah Colberg — to play an important role in 2023.

“We had an up-an-down season,” Wardzinski said. “We started well, struggled in the middle and then played well at the end.

“It’s sad to see the seniors leave. They were a good group and great leaders.”

Gateway must replace pitchers Ryan Greggerson and Grady Otterman and power-hitting catcher Carsen Engelka, who hit .288 with 17 hits, six doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs. Others graduating are Will Roper and Joe Sides. Roper hit .310.

The Gators found themselves as road warriors. They only played two games at home because of weather and field conditions.

During the late season run, the Gators defeated McKeesport (3-0), North Hills (9-4) and Woodland Hills (16-1). Other big wins during the season were against Pine-Richland, Penn-Trafford and Kiski Area.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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