Norwin baseball turns up offense at right time

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Saturday, May 22, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Norwin had made a habit out of eking one-run baseball games, which is fine with the coaching staff, as long as the Knights are winning.

Some expected another tight finish when the Class 6A No. 3 Knights hosted Franklin Regional, the state’s top-ranked team in Class 5A, in a late-season playoff tuneup.

It was 1-1 — for about a commercial break. Norwin turned up its offense, took advantage of 10 walks and dominated the Panthers, 18-2, in a four-inning runaway.

“This is the kind of game that can get us ready for the playoffs,” said Norwin junior Ty Stecko, who launched a walk-off grand slam that coaches and players estimated to have traveled 400-plus feet.

“It was 410 or 415, easy,” said Knights senior Landon DiBeradin, who doubled, tripled and drove in three runs in the win, which put Norwin at 12-3 with one game left before the playoffs.

The Knights earned the No. 2 seed in the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs.

“We had to come back (after a pair of losses) and we did that,” DiBeradin said. “We all had a common goal to get back on track, where we should be.”

The Knights roughed up Panthers ace Brian Pirone, a Seton Hill commit who threw a no-hitter against Kiski Area.

Norwin knows momentum in baseball can be fleeting. Babe Ruth is quoted to have said, “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.”

“We needed a game like this,” Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski said. “We needed to get our bats going again and we did that. Hopefully, it gives us some momentum for the playoffs.”

Norwin-Hempfield, take 3?

Norwin and Hempfield could meet again in the WPIAL baseball and softball semifinals, and that could mean at least two local teams making the Class 6A finals.

The baseball teams shared a section championship and split their section series.

The Norwin and Hempfield softball teams drew the same seeds as their baseball counterparts — Norwin No. 2 and Hempfield No. 3.

Norwin and Hempfield played in the 2018 softball semis at Seton Hill.

Knights take third

The Norwin girls track and field team charged to a third-place finish at the WPIAL Class AAA championship, finishing behind Butler and North Allegheny.

Norwin won two events apiece but couldn’t hold off Butler, which won its fourth consecutive title.

Knights junior Berna Zukina won the 400-meter dash, and senior Natalie Shuster took first in the 100-meter hurdles.

“We have a young group this year, a lot of freshmen and sophomores who are first-timers at big events like this,” Norwin coach Thom Swenson said. “We’re excited for what the future has for them.”

Volleyball, lacrosse in playoffs

The Norwin boys volleyball and lacrosse teams were set to open the WPIAL postseason.

The lacrosse Knights (6-5) lost 6-5 to Peters Township (12-5) on May 18 in a first-round game in Class 3A.

Norwin’s lacrosse team has only qualified for the WPIAL postseason one other time.

The boys volleyball team scored a late-season victory over Hempfield, 3-2, as JC Govannucci had 17 kills and Mike Fleming added nine. It helped propel the Knights to a No. 8 seed. They defeated No. 9 Upper St. Clair, 3-0, in the WPIAL Class 3A first round on May 18.

Bilinsky plays in Roundball

Norwin senior Ty Bilinsky, who battled several health-related issues this year that sidelined him for most of his senior basketball season, came back to play in the Roundball Classic.

Bilinsky played for the Class 6A all-stars May 15. He scored 11 points in a 141-132 loss to the 5A team.

“It felt great, it was good to be back,” Bilinsky said. “I missed it a lot.”

Recruiting

In addition to Alex Jubert, who will compete for John Carroll, two other Norwin boys track and field athletes will continue their athletic careers at the next level.

Tony Sacco is headed to nearby Seton Hill, while Alex Puskaric will go to Washington & Jefferson.

College scene

The Penn State Greater Allegheny baseball team has a Norwin flavor with four former Knights on the roster.

Sophomore Nick Krevo had eight RBIs and three doubles in 24 games, while freshman Derek Turcovski appeared in 19 games as a two-way player and was 1-0 as a pitcher, freshman Brian Woods was hitting .420 (21 for 50) with 18 RBIs in 17 games, and freshman pitcher Clay Shelander was 1-0 with a 3.94 ERA in four appearances for the Lions (14-11).

• A pair of High Point freshmen won a conference track and field title in their first season. Distance runners Dominic Spatolisano and Jake Tarosky were part of the program’s first Big South Conference championship.

In the finals, Tarosky finished eighth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

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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