Penn Hills Pony League baseball team caps off strong season with championship

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Sunday, July 24, 2022 | 9:01 AM


Mason Wade felt the Penn Hills Pony A team was in the middle of what would be a good run. By the time the championship game rolled around July 18 against Squirrel Hill, Wade was confident.

“I got a good feeling in the middle of the season,” said Mason, who is a 13-year-old Penn Hills resident. “We bonded well as a team. We worked together.”

Mason, who had previously played youth baseball in Monroeville, was happy to be back on a team in his community. Penn Hills had a strong season in the CitiParks RBI League, putting together a 12-1-1 record that was capped off with a 17-13 victory over Squirrel Hill in the championship game.

“The pitches were off, and there were a lot of walks,” Nathan said.

Other members of the team included Anthony Sipple, Deejay Goods, Dontae Gidens, Isaiah McFarland, Kashden Wiggins, Kevin Buckner, Korey Buckner, Logan Bollinger, Mariano Pofi, Marques Brown, Rio Stotts and Rocco Ahers.

Many of the players hit milestones.

“I hit my first home run over the fence,” said Kevin Buckner, who is 14.

Coach P.J. McGough said Penn Hills decided to move to the league three or four years ago. The move put Penn Hills in with primarily teams from the City of Pittsburgh, which contrasted from the group of suburban schools they had previously played with.

McGough believes the move is a better fit for the program.

“There are a vast variety of players,” McGough said. “There’s a mix of cultures. It’s good to see a different variety of kids out there.”

Penn Hills winning the championship was a turnaround after the team struggled last season. Injuries made things difficult for Penn Hills. When a few more 13-year-olds came out for the team this year, it put Penn Hills in a better position.

“Last year, we took our lumps,” McGough said. “Injuries hampered us, and we could only rely on so many people.”

During the regular season this year, Penn Hills ran away with the league crown. Penn Hills finished in first place with a 10-1-1 record. The team finished with a run differential of plus-70, outscoring their opponents 133-63.

Other Pony A teams in the league were Squirrel Hill, Urban Impact, Mt. Washington, 14th Ward, Westwood Oakwood, Swissvale and Southside.

In the playoffs, Penn Hills knocked off Mt. Washington, 7-1, advance to the championship game. Throughout the season, Wade was pleased with how he adapted.

“I adjusted well,” Nathan said. “I knew the competition was going to be harder playing against older kids.”

Penn Hills had to adjust in the championship game after falling behind 7-0 in the first inning.

“It was wild,” Kevin said. “Having time to come back made it easier, but it was still hard. We knew we could come back.”

After some tough times last year, McGough was pleased Penn Hills was able to have a strong season. He believes the program has found a good landing spot in the CitiParks League.

“They grew with each other as the weeks went on,” McGough said. “The progress over the year has been tremendous.”

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