Hot bats power Pine-Richland baseball team on winning streak

Friday, April 19, 2019 | 8:48 PM

After battling to a hard-fought 5-4 win over North Allegheny, the Pine-Richland baseball team is unbeaten in its last seven games. Prior to the win the over rival Tigers, the Rams had outscored their opponents 41-4 in the previous five games.

While the team has been playing solid ball, coach Kurt Wolfe is careful about making it sound like an accomplishment when there are plenty of crucial games left on the schedule. But he is pleased with his team’s mental approach to the game.

“They’re doing a great job, and the biggest thing is taking care of things like getting ahead in counts and throwing strikes on the mound. It’s really that simple,” Wolfe said. “When we’re up at bat, their approaches at the plate have really pout them in situations where they can have more success, and that’s what they’ve been doing.”

The Rams’ most experienced players have been as successful as anyone could expect, with Troy LaNeve batting .444 with two home runs and 15 RBIs and Matt Wood hitting .472 with four home runs, six doubles and 19 RBIs. J.D. Armstrong is hitting .438, and Johsn Johnson has collected 10 RBIs.

While those four have been instrumental to the Rams’ success, the team has enjoyed stellar seasons from a handful of under-the-radar contributors.

Senior Jake Maley, the team’s everyday first baseman, has been as solid, batting .400 with a team-leading seven doubles to go with seven RBIs.

“Jake has done a great job, and it all started for him in the offseason,” Wolfe said. “He made a slight adjustment to his swing, and he got a little more linear with it, which has given him all the success in the world.

“He spent his summer working at first base because he knew how good we’d be defensively in the outfield. He wanted to help out and contribute, and he worked his tail off at first base to make that impact.”

Josh Scherer is another senior who has had a breakout season. In addition to serving as the team’s closer, Scherer is batting .389 with five doubles.

The team has also received strong performances from Grant Voytovich, who has 10 RBIs. Meanwhile, sophomore Chase Vrabel has been a revelation, sporting a robust .458 average with just two strikeouts in 31 plate appearances.

“Chase has really emerged as a DH,” Wolfe said. “What makes him special is just how poised he is at the plate and how disciplined he is. I’ve been impressed with the way he’s handled the bat.

“He has the approach at the plate where nothing is too big, nothing is too fast, and nothing breaks too much. He just stays in there, and it’s been fun to watch.”


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