Greensburg Salem baseball team sets sights on another playoff run

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 | 7:18 PM

In the first week of practice, Greensburg Salem baseball coach Bill Wisniewski told his players to unwind, be kids and have fun in a return to normalcy after last season was wiped out because of the covid-19 pandemic.

At the same time, he has asked them to work toward their potential.

In 2019, the Golden Lions won the section championship and earned the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A tournament before a 1-0 loss in 11 innings to New Castle in the quarterfinals. In 2018, Greensburg Salem reached the WPIAL semifinals.

There will be plenty of competition to see who fills out the lineup as they try to make another run.

The Golden Lions return one player from the 2019 team: junior shortstop Hayden Teska. He was a catcher as a freshman but was scheduled to move to shortstop last year.

“He’s a player that we can depend on to field the ball well at shortstop,” Wisniewski said. “We’ll lean upon him. He may still get some opportunities to catch because he might pursue catching at the next level. He’s the type of player that is willing to do whatever helps the team.”

Another player the Golden Lions will rely on is senior third baseman Zach O’Bryan, who will bat in the middle of the order.

“Zach was behind that group that was pretty good two years ago, so he was biding his time,” Wisniewski said. “He’s worked tirelessly. He lost last year, but now he’s had that senior light bulb go off. We tell all of our kids that they will get an opportunity, and it depends on how you prepare when that opportunity comes. We’re really happy with the way Zach is working right now.”

Other infielders include first basemen Jacob Dengler and Ethan Heese, middle infielders Colin Kruth, Robbie Seigenfuse and Caden Cioffi, and third baseman Brayden Merichko.

Dom Falvo will do the majority of the catching, and a combination of Garret Cribbs, Matt Kaboly, Dylan Sarafield, Jacob Smith and Owen Tutich will man the outfield.

“We have five seniors and nine juniors, and they’ve played together throughout the years,” Wisniewski said. “They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they play well as a team. I think we’re very capable of hitting, and I feel like we can throw the ball. It’s just a matter of game reps to see who seizes opportunities with that.”

Cribbs, Smith, Tutich, Merichko and Heese will pitch the majority of the innings. How their roles shake out is still being defined.

“In high school baseball, it comes down to who can throw strikes and who can limit walks,” Wisniewski said. “If you can roll ground balls and get fly-ball outs, you’re going to be successful as a high school pitcher. Getting up in pitch counts can hurt you in high school.”

The Golden Lions are in a new Section 3-4A with Laurel Highlands, Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Ringgold, Uniontown and West Mifflin. Another change made by the WPIAL is having section opponents play back-to-back series opposed to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday setup as in the past.

Greensburg Salem opens Friday against Ligonier Valley, then jumps into their first section series with Elizabeth Forward on Monday and Tuesday.

“It’s definitely a change. We haven’t seen many of these teams in the past. Some of the teams that have been in our section in prior years dropped down to 3A. It’s new competition, but it’s new for everyone, especially with us playing these Monday and Tuesday series this year. That’s definitely going to change your strategy and how you approach these games.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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