Penn Hills baseball players gain experience on trip to Myrtle Beach

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Thursday, March 28, 2019 | 9:47 PM


When Jerry Cammuso took over as the Penn Hills baseball coach last season, he wanted to change the culture and perception of the program.

Cammuso has been making those strides as the Indians head into his second season following a 6-10 campaign with a 1-9 record in Section 2-6A. Penn Hills was one of youngest teams in Class 6A but showed it has talent.

The Indians began the season at the Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C., from March 21-25, and battled against top teams from across the country.

Even though Penn Hills didn’t win any of the three games in Myrtle Beach, Cammuso saw a lot of positives from his young but seasoned team.

“I noticed our kids never gave up. These kids always fight back. Their team isn’t like the old teams at Penn Hills where once they fell behind they gave up,” Cammuso said.

With the efforts of the Penn Hills Baseball Boosters Club headed by President Theresa Sciulli, the Indians were afforded an opportunity to get out of Western Pennsylvania for baseball for the first time, according to Cammuso.

The boosters and the players raised money since last season through methods that included donations made to them at local grocery stories and a bingo night.

“They roomed together, they practiced together, they played together. They spent five straight days together. It was more of a bonding trip so that everybody knows a little more about each other,” Cammuso said. “They seemed to get along well together and play well together. They got to experience playing teams from out of state and very, very high-level baseball.”

This season, the Indians will be led by junior pitcher/shortstop Cole Yeager and junior outfielder/pitcher Cam Clark. Yeager and Clark will be the Indians one-two punch of the pitching staff.

Last season, Yeager went 1-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 11 appearances. At the plate, Clark finished with a .385 batting average with 13 RBIs, 16 runs scored, a double and triple.

Cammuso also will look to junior A.J. Collins and sophomores Anthony Sciulli and Josh Zambito to lead a strong and deep pitching staff in Cammuso’s eyes.

Collins will spend time behind the plate or manning the middle infield for the Indians, while Sciulli will play third base and Zambito will play the corner infield positions.

The Indians will look to replace Anthony Tucci’s contributions to last year’s team. Tucci hit .442 with 15 RBIs, 18 runs and seven doubles. Penn Hills also has to replace catcher Tim Hoolahan, who hit .412 with 13 RBIs, 12 runs scored, four doubles and a triple.

“The pitching is going to be the part where we counteract our batting. If we aren’t out there scoring runs, we need to make sure we have the right pitcher matched up against the batters,” Cammuso said. “(In Myrtle), we were hitting the ball, but we were hitting it right to everybody. I need to learn how to hit gap shots and hit to the opposite field better.”

Junior Mike Devito will be the Indians’ starting catcher, while junior Max Oliveri will be playing all over the field.

Cammuso said Clark, Oliveri and junior Ryan Kumanchik will most likely be the starting outfield.

The interest in Penn Hills baseball has grown under Cammuso’s direction, growing from 10 players from last year to 29.

“It has a lot to do with not just me but (athletic director) Stephanie Strauss. She’s a big part of this with allowing me to do these programs to get other kids interested and to go down and work with the younger kids,” Cammuso said.

“It’s gratifying to see a program that was going downhill all sudden start climbing up. We were making noise last year. We weren’t a doormat last year.”

After moving down to Class 5A this season, the Indians will compete in Section 1, with Franklin Regional, Gateway, Fox Chapel, Armstrong, Kiski Area and Woodland Hills.

“I believe anybody in this section can beat anybody,” Cammuso said. “I don’t think there is one team that can dominate the section. It’s going to be mainly up to the pitching with who pitched against who that day.”

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