Ligonier Valley baseball keeps rolling with nonsection win over Greensburg CC

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019 | 8:56 PM


Michael Marinchak wears protective glasses when he plays basketball and baseball. The specs essentially have become his trademark.

So has his accompanying tunnel vision.

The Ligonier Valley junior pitcher kept his poise — just like his defense behind him — and showed no apprehension when Greensburg Central Catholic loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth inning Wednesday.

The big-hitting Rams had a six-run lead and were well on their way to another victory, so they quickly knocked back the threat. Marinchak retired the Centurions’ 8, 9 and leadoff hitters in order, and the Rams remained perfect with an 8-1 nonsection win at home.

Ligonier Valley is 9-0 under rookie coach Brett Marabito, a former Laurel Valley standout who has the upperclassmen-heavy Rams atop the Heritage Conference in Class 3A.

Right-hander Marinchak picked up the win, holding the Class-A Centurions (3-7) to four hits over five innings, with seven strikeouts. The slick-passing basketball point guard who did not dispel a rumor he might play football in the fall, added two singles and drove in a run to help his cause.

“Mike is a great athlete,” Marabito said. “He is used to situations like that. He is not going to fret. He is going to go out and do what he does: throw strikes. And we have great fielders behind him. That makes a pitcher a lot more comfortable.”

Ligonier Valley has scored 10 or more runs seven times and has mercy-ruled six teams. GCC is the only team to hold the Rams to single-digit runs.

“We always take one time through the order to get going,” Marinchak said. “Every pitcher on the team knows that we have a team behind us that is probably one of the best to come through this school. We just want to throw strikes and even let them put the ball in play like we did today, and we made the plays.”

The Rams have outscored their opponents 107-14. They beat the Centurions, 9-1, earlier in the season.

“We played better today than we did the first time,” GCC coach Dennis Reist said. “That is a very good triple-A team. I thought we competed well. We lost four senior pitchers, so we’re still trying to find pitchers to replace those guys. It takes some time.”

Six walks in the opening inning by GCC starter Tom Salley allowed the Rams to take a painless, 3-0 advantage.

Sophomore Alex Miller replaced Salley after just two-thirds of an inning and recorded a strikeout. But the Rams hadn’t begun to hit and were far from finished scoring.

John Caldwell brought home a run on a fielder’s choice in the second, and Marinchak followed a Sam Sheeder single with one of his own to make it 5-0. Sullivan Schueltz led off the inning with a double.

Grant Dowden and John Beard singled consecutively in the third, and Schueltz knocked in Dowden with a sacrifice fly. An error in right gave the Rams their seventh run.

After the jam-busting fourth, the Rams made it 8-1 when Marinchak and Ben Anderson singled back to back with two outs.

Schueltz relieved Marinchak in the sixth and set down six straight hitters.

Marabito was glad his team did not lose focus in a nonsection game.

“The main thing is keeping their eyes on that top goal,” Marabito said. “And our top goal right now is winning the conference. We know we have to bring our best game every night. Whenever you only play a couple teams one or two times, you have to make the most out of every game. We’re not playing a 50-game schedule. You have to come to the ball park ready to go. These guys do a great job of coming to play every day.”

GCC got its run in the third on Tommy Voelker’s RBI double to deep center. Dylan Sebak had two hits for the Centurions.

GCC, the Tribune-Review’s No. 5-ranked team in Class A at the start of the week, will get back into Section 3 play in second place. The Centurions gave No. 1 Vincentian all it could handle Saturday in a 7-6 loss. A three-error seventh inning doomed the Centurions in that one.

“We’re playing a lot of tough nonsection games to help us get ready for the playoffs, provided we get there,” Reist said. “Our whole infield is new. We’re trying to find what works for us.”

Marabito was glad to see two games against GCC on the schedule.

“Any time we can get a team like this to come up and play, it’s always a great thing to have,” Marabito said. “It’s great to get some competition. GCC has given us two great games. There are some tough teams in our conference. We have capitalized a lot on other teams’ mistakes. That is what I am stressing to these guys. We put the ball in play, that gives us a lot more ceiling to do better things.”

Ligonier Valley, despite its impressive start, is keeping the vibe low key, Marabito making sure each day has a sprinkle of humility.

“We haven’t proven anything yet,” Marabito said. “Yeah, we’re 9-0 right now. We’re playing great baseball. But there is no need to be arrogant. We still have to prove ourselves. We’re not an established program in the conference. We’re not a District 6 mainstay.”

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

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