Norwin baseball finds ways to finish the job

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Saturday, May 8, 2021 | 9:01 AM


Close games aren’t always a bad thing, especially when you find ways to win them.

Highly touted Norwin knows a little something about razor-thin baseball games this season.

The Knights, ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL and No. 4 in the state in Class 6A, had played in six one-run games, winning five of them heading into the final week of section play.

They were 10-1 heading into May.

“I think it shows how, as a team, we are able to finish the job even under pressure,” senior first baseman Jayden Walker said. “Regardless of the problem, we will always find a way.”

Mega-talented Norwin has all the tools to be a championship team: pitching, hitting and defense radiate from the lineup. But 6A baseball can come with competitive teams and sticky situations that only the best can negotiate.

Forget how the Knights are winning; they simply are winning, and it’s been exciting if not challenging at times.

Norwin opened with a 5-4 win over Peters Township and edged North Catholic a day later, 4-3, as senior shortstop Jake Kendro, a Tennessee recruit, delivered a home run and a walk-off single.

“I just think they are confident in themselves,” coach Mike Liebdzinski said, “and they’re able to remain calm in tight games.”

When the Knights clipped Mt. Lebanon, 2-1, senior pitcher Jake Bazala tossed a two-hit complete-game gem. Bazala was 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings.

Bazala said the Knights often self-critique themselves after wins and losses.

“As a team, we know that we can do better,” he said. “Whether it be hitting, fielding or pitching. We have been really good this whole year, but I do not think we are done progressing. Early in the season we had some tight victories, but I think that shaped us into the team we are going to become.”

A 5-4 victory against Canon-McMillan at Wild Things Park in Washington was followed by a 7-6 win over North Allegheny as the Knights again walked it off, thanks to a late rip by senior infielder Ryan Scavnicky.

Scavnicky was leading the team with a .444 batting average, while Eric Chorba was batting .417 and Kendro, .406.

“We all are very focused and determined to win,” Kendro said. “We get timely hits and big plays in the field when we need them, and we make all of the routine plays.”

Chorba and Kendro each had three home runs and Kendro had 13 RBIs and 10 runs scored. Senior Alex Gabauer had 10 RBIs.

While Norwin has been shouldered with broad expectations, the Knights are taking it all in stride. They’re concern is to win; not to necessarily put on a show every time they take the field.

“Baseball is unpredictable, no matter how good you are,” Walker said. “We just worry about winning and getting better so we can be the best when playoffs come around.”

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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