Norwin’s bats wake up in win over Penn-Trafford

Friday, April 9, 2021 | 8:59 PM

Eric Chorba zeroed in on a 1-0 fastball that arrived a touch inside. When it met the business end of his bat and he sent it climbing toward a sun-canvased sky, the Norwin senior was out of his admitted slump and his team was well on its way to another victory.

Chorba belted a three-run home run to right center in the fourth inning as the highly touted Knights fired up the offense and backed a three-man no-hitter, roughing up rival Penn-Trafford, 11-2, in a nonsection baseball game Friday in Harrison City.

“I was coming off a bad slump,” said Chorba, a Division I Longwood commit. “I was 0 for 5. I have been working on my timing, and it paid off today. We are starting to hit the ball better.”

And that’s bad news for opponents.

Norwin (4-1), ranked No. 1 in WPIAL and No 4 in the state in Class 6A, got two hits apiece from seniors Jayden Walker and Ronnie Howard, while junior Noah Czajkowski, senior Luke Savage and senior Brady Kukich combined to hold the Warriors (1-3) hitless.

“It was good to get the bad taste of that Baldwin game out of our mouths,” Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski said. “Our guys pitched well, and I thought we drove the ball today better than we have lately.”

Penn-Trafford junior Owen Rain hit a ball sharply on the infield in the bottom of the first, but the throw pulled Walker off the bag at first base, prompting an error.

The Warriors did very little offensively after that, scoring twice on a pair of groundouts in the fourth to avoid a shutout.

“We try to treat every team like they’re the best team we play,” Penn-Trafford coach Dan Miller said. “Norwin is a special team. It starts with the pitching for us. I think we gave them 10 walks and then I stopped counting. We talked about the importance of throwing strikes and keeping the ball in play. Defense wins sections, but pitching wins championships.”

After a pair of walks allowed two runs in the third to put Norwin ahead 5-0, Chorba went deep to make it 8-0 in the fourth.

Chorba said the team is aware of the Knights’ lofty spots in the rankings, but the players are keeping it all in perspective.

“We see it in the media,” he said. “We’re trying to stay humble and really take it one game at a time.”

Walker and junior EJ Dunn each had a double for the Knights, who were coming off a 4-3 loss to Baldwin. They had beaten the same Highlanders team the previous day in the back-to-back section series.

Jack Whalen had three RBIs for the Knights.

Howard’s RBI single in the seventh made it 11-2.

The pitching trio was not overpowering but showed steadiness while getting crisp plays from a busy defense that jammed up the Warriors.

“Czajkowski threw well. He had good velocity and used his breaking ball effectively,” Liebdzinski said. “He lost his control for three batters but otherwise a nice outing. Savage did what he does: He throws a ton of strikes and keeps guys off balance. Kukich did a nice job throwing strikes and making them put the ball in play.”

The Warriors have dropped three in a row but to excellent competition. They were swept by 5A No. 3 Franklin Regional.

“We can no longer use the excuse that we’re a young team,” Miller said. “This is where we start to find out if we have matured as baseball players.”

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

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