Penn-Trafford baseball seeks storybook ending at PIAAs

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Sunday, June 2, 2019 | 9:22 PM


Dan Miller gathered his Warriors in right field at Wild Things Park moments after they watched Pine-Richland receive the WPIAL Class 6A championship trophy.

The Rams were celebrating, taking photos and dousing coaches with ice water after a 7-2 victory Thursday that clinched the program’s sixth title.

It was in that moment the Penn-Trafford players began preparing for the PIAA tournament.

The Penn-Trafford coach spoke to his team, relaying an analogy about a “good storybook.”

“The book came to an end. It wasn’t a best seller, but we’re going to read another chapter,” he said.

WPIAL runner-up Penn-Trafford (18-4) will open the PIAA baseball playoffs against District 3 champion Wilson (18-7-1) at 4 p.m. Monday at Wenger Field in Fredericksburg.

Miller and his players are not ready for a special season to end.

“This was a very good season for us, and we’re not done yet,” said Miller, whose team won a section title for the first time since 2007 and earned the No. 1 seed for the WPIAL playoffs. “The state playoffs are our goal now. This was the best team to come out of Penn-Trafford in years. We made history in the win column, and we made history getting to the championship game.”

Sticking with the storybook theme, senior Mario Disso said the Warriors will refocus for another playoff run.

“It was a tough loss (Thursday), but they’re a really good team,” said Disso, a Pitt-Johnstown recruit who had two hits, including an RBI single, in the final. “We’re going to turn the page, come back Monday. We’re a really good baseball team. We have a chance of making a run for the state, and I think we can do it.”

To advance in the state tournament, the Warriors will rely on what brought them there: pitching and defense. Penn-Trafford has allowed an average of 2.81 runs.

Senior pitcher Maclean Maund, a Seton Hill recruit, was 6-0 with a 1.75 ERA before taking the loss against Pine-Richland. Seniors Tyler Horvat (4-1, 2.15 ERA), Tyler Chrise (4-0, 1.67) and Bobby Kusinsky (1.17 ERA) also have been dominant.

“Our strength is still going to be our pitching and defense,” Disso said. “Our hitting needs to come around a little bit. We didn’t hit the ball very well (Thursday). It’s just how the game goes. We need to bounce back Monday.”

Wilson won’t make it easy. Luke Holman threw a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts in leading the seventh-seeded Bulldogs to an 11-2 win over Hempfield (Landisville) on Thursday in the District 3 title game.

“We’re going to try and swallow the bitter pill. Shower it off, as they say,” Miller said.

“We’ll start the state playoffs on Monday. We’ll be ready to go.”

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.

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