Griener leads Brentwood to 5th straight WPIAL playoff berth
By: Ray Fisher
Friday, May 17, 2019 | 8:03 PM
Brandon Griener could be considered the “big man on campus” if he played a different position on the Brentwood baseball team.
Instead, Griener, a senior pitcher/catcher, is known more as the “big man behind the plate” for the Spartans.
The three-year starter led Brentwood to a fifth consecutive WPIAL playoff berth in 2019. Griener set the tone for the club offensively with a .524 batting average, two home runs and 20 RBIs. He and junior outfielder/pitcher Jayneil Latham tied for the team lead in doubles with five.
On the mound, Griener, the lone senior on this year’s squad, compiled a 4-1 record with a 1.70 ERA, striking out 27 batters in 29 innings.
“Brandon is having an outstanding year not only at the plate but also defensively as a catcher,” said Greg Perdziola, who is in his 18th season as the Spartans’ field boss. “He is one of the best defensive catchers I have ever had here at Brentwood; he’s one of the best catchers in Class 2A.
“At the plate, he is really hitting the ball hard on a line. Being our only senior, he truly leads by his effort on the field.”
Brentwood (7-8, 4-6) advanced to the postseason as the fourth-place team in Section 3-2A, finishing behind co-section champs Serra Catholic (17-2, 9-1) and Seton LaSalle (15-2, 9-1), and third-place Jeannette (9-7, 5-5).
The Spartans, who started out 5-1 this year, hit close to .300 as a team, racking up a .297 batting average.
“I believe our team exceeded expectations,” Griener said. “We played a lot better than anyone would have thought.”
Griener said the 2019 season has been the best of his career.
“My season has gone very well. It’s the best I’ve played in high school,” he said.
Griener also competed on the boys golf team for four years, and is a member of the robotics team and Technology Student Association.
He batted .408 with 18 RBIs in his junior season, and was 3-0 with 16 strikeouts in 10 innings.
He has earned seven varsity letters at Brentwood, owns a 3.5 GPA, and plans to continue his baseball career at Chatham, where he will study interior architecture.
Griener was complemented offensively this spring by Latham (.362), junior shortstop/pitcher Zach Keib (.356) and freshman second baseman Kyle Keener (.325).
Latham punched out 17 hits and scored a team-high 16 times. Keib had 16 hits, including a homer, and drove in 15. Keib, who played all four infield positions last year, and Keener scored nine runs apiece.
Latham, who started in center field, hit .460 and had 17 RBIs in 2018.
“We have a very young team with only a few upperclassmen starters,” Latham said. “We have really come a long way this season with our ability to keep battling no matter what the score is. My season at the plate has been all right. My fielding has always been my strength. I’m just happy I was able to help my team win.”
Latham is a three-sport athlete, competing in football, basketball and baseball. He is a National Honor Society member, and has a 4.76 GPA in his junior year.
Two other leading hitters for Brentwood were sophomore first baseman Mike Guekes (.279) and junior outfielder Aiden Davis (.270), who finished with 10 RBIs. Luke Bauer, a junior outfielder, belted the club’s only other home run.
Griener and Latham formed a sold one-two punch in the pitching department. Latham posted a 2-1 record and a 3.90 ERA, fanning 12 in 21 innings.
Keib compiled a 1-2 record with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings and 3.30 ERA this season.
Rounding out the Spartans’ pitching staff were Keener, sophomore Josh Griener, plus freshmen prospects Lucas Huntley and Jase Keib.
“I have seen some good things from our freshmen,” Perdziola said.
The team’s starting lineup consisted of Latham (CF), Keener (2B), Griener (C), Keib (SS), Davis (RF), Guekus (1B), sophomore Riley Brendel (LF), junior Matt Veatch (3B), Bauer (DH) and sophomore Brendan Wertz, who manned an infield position depending on who was pitching.
Brentwood zipped past Summit Academy, 8-1, May 14 at Seneca Valley in the preliminary round of the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs.
Zach Keib, Brandon Greiner and Latham combined for six hits, seven RBIs and five runs to lead the Spartans, who lost to top-seeded Shenango, 10-0, in the first round May 16. Keib and Griener shared pitching duties, giving up just two hits and striking out 11 between them.
The Spartans rang up 16 stolen bases in the game, paced by Veatch with four.
Summit Academy, which clinched its first playoff berth in school history, finished with a 5-9 overall record.