Greensburg Central Catholic’s baseball title hopes renewed

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Thursday, May 6, 2021 | 5:52 PM


Greensburg Central Catholic baseball had serious postseason expectations last year, as in, we can win the WPIAL and PIAA kind of expectations.

The Centurions admit they were loaded.

The pandemic didn’t care.

With a half-dozen seniors unable to play and help to bring those high hopes to fruition, the younger Centurions had to wait for 2021.

The phrase “bird in the hand” comes to mind with the returning players, a talented group in their own right that first-year coach Tom Appleby knows he will have for a few years and wouldn’t trade for the world.

As it turns out, the bar is still set high, and the results are coming up aces. That repeated echoing ping of aluminum you hear is coming from Carbon.

“I doubt there were a lot of people who expected us to be as good,” said versatile senior Alex Miller, who has played every position but center field, catcher and second base. “We’ve been playing some good baseball, but we know there are some things we need to get better at.”

With some serious offensive pop, GCC took an 12-1 record (9-0 in Section 2-A) into Game 2 of its section series against Jefferson-Morgan on Thursday. The series was pushed back a day because of rain and storms.

The playoff-bound Centurions, who are winning by nearly nine runs a game, had not lost since a 6-4 setback against Southmoreland in their opener April 8. They scored 10 or more runs in all but two games and had totaled 146 runs to 42 for the opposition (12.2 runs per game).

“Our bats have been tearing it up,” Appleby said. “Our top four have been really good for us. Alex Miller is spraying it all over the field. Dylan Sebek, Zach David and Max Kallock all have been pounding the ball.”

Four players were hitting better than .500 through 12 games.

David, a junior, has been on a tear, leading the team with a .619 average to go with 22 RBIs, while Miller was hitting .595 with 27 RBIs, Kallock, a sophomore, was batting at a .537 clip, and Sebek had a .514 average with 27 runs.

Sebek is a five-sport athlete at GCC. Basketball, soccer, track, and golf are the others.

“Our pitching doesn’t get a lot of attention, but I have been very encouraged by that,” Appleby said. “We can go pretty deep if we need to, six or seven guys.”

David is 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 26 strikeouts, while Sebek had a 4-1 mark with a 1.12 ERA and 26 Ks.

While there probably are better sections to play in this season — something that GCC does not lose sight of — the offensive productivity remains impressive.

“We want to be focused and prepared because we know the game is coming when we’re going to get tested,” Appleby said. “I want our guys to be respectful of each other, work hard and have fun doing it.”

Scoring 12 runs in a game sure looks like fun.

“We knew we could be solid,” Sebek said. “But we had to focus on the little things.”

Appleby was particularly pleased with how his team played in a stretch when it faced West Greene for two section games, then held off solid pitching from Uniontown in one of its closest wins (6-3).

“And I have told our guys we can’t always rely on the top of the order,” Appleby said. “Our bottom-order guys have stepped up as well. It’s been great to get them reps.”

The outfield has been another bright spot, with Sebek moving to center from shortstop. Sophomores Wade Boyle (right) and Joe Coletti (left) flank the speedster.

“They all can cover a lot of ground,” the coach said.

Appleby said catcher Cole Benning, a junior, has been a leader.

“We asked him to step up and he has,” Appleby said. “Big time.”

Extra-base hits are a staple with this group, but the Centurions know gap shots won’t come as easy in the playoffs.

Small ball is possible, even though it’s been executed more in practice than games. Appleby always talks about fundamentals, and bunting a runner over could be just as critical in the postseason as a double to the fence.

“It’s nice to have it in the hip pocket,” Appleby said. “We have used it a few times with effectiveness. It’s often how games are won and lost.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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