Penn-Trafford baseball shows flair for the dramatic with early-season wins

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Thursday, April 22, 2021 | 10:55 AM


Penn-Trafford still is finding its identity as the baseball season nears the halfway mark.

Coach Dan Miller was moving pieces around in his pitching rotation at the beginning of the week as his team won five in a row after a tough, 11-2 nonsection loss to Norwin.

“It’s an honest game,” Miller said. “We’re still finding our way.”

If nothing else, the Warriors have a flair for the dramatic.

Their first three wins saw them rally from behind and win in walk-off fashion on their refurbished turf field.

“It seems like we’re not always as into it early, but we really come on late,” sophomore Peyton Bigler said. “We always feel like we can come back.”

Bigler was credited with a walk-off hit when the Warriors (6-3, 3-2 Section 1-5A) clipped Seton La Salle, 4-3. His bases-loaded walk against Gateway brought home the winner in a 3-2 victory.

In the team’s home opener, junior Matt Lichota delivered the game-winning single to nip Connellsville, 4-3.

“We’re a young team and we’re underdogs,” Lichota said. “We lost 17 seniors from our 2020 team. We just stick around in games. We jump up towards the end.”

But why the late-inning drama? Why does the team dig in its fingernails and piece together rallies at such opportune times?

Maybe it’s the “hype man,” junior Owen Rain. Maybe that’s why the Warriors make it “rain” late in games.

“He gets us up,” Lichota said. “He picks everybody up.”

“I am a loud guy,” Rain said. “We tend to start off slow but then pick up the pace.”

Penn-Trafford handled Penn Hills, 12-2, before sweeping Kiski Area, 8-0 and 10-3, to stay in the thick of the section playoff race.

The team’s section losses are both to Franklin Regional, the top-ranked team in 5A. A front-loaded schedule seems to be offering some relief to the young Warriors, and they are taking full advantage.

“What we have done has helped us believe we’re never out of a game,” Miller said. “To play from behind is always tough. But we have come back in all three (walk-off wins) and that starts with our pitching. Those close wins keep us interested.”

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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