Pine-Richland baseball places 8 on all-section team
Friday, May 18, 2018 | 11:00 PM
The WPIAL Class 6A baseball playoffs are underway, and defending champion Pine-Richland is hoping to have plenty of ball left after topping Peters Township, 4-1, in a first-round matchup.
In the meantime, however, the all-section teams were announced, and eight Rams were honored for their contributions this season in Section 1.
Of the eight players, Craig Kunkel and Matt Bullock were the only seniors to be named to an all-section team. Kunkel, who is hitting .263 with 11 RBIs, was named to the first team as an infielder and Bullock received honorable mention status as a pitcher.
“Craig is a heck of an athlete. He's been unbelievable defensively. He's a big strong kid with great hands and great feet. He's meant a lot to this team. We moved him to the top of the batting order, and he's really made a difference for us there, offensively,” Pine-Richland coach Kurt Wolfe said.
“And Matt, he's been a closer for us, and he really just thrives off the pressure and enjoys coming in when we really need an out. He has a big 12-to-6 curveball, the kind that you really don't see at this level very often. That pitch has been the centerpiece of his success.”
The rest of the all-section honorees for Pine-Richland are members of the team's stellar junior class, led by Penn State commit Matt Wood. Named to the first team, Wood leads the Rams with a .444 batting average, three home runs and 22 RBIs in 18 games.
A trio of juniors were named to the second-team: Troy LaNeve, Matt Schietroma and Josh Scherer. LaNeve and Scherer earned second-team status as designated hitters and Schietroma earned his spot as the Rams' top pitcher, sporting a 6-1 record with a 0.63 ERA and 45 strikeouts.
Two more juniors, J.D. Armstrong and Josh Johnson, earned honorable mention status as infielders.
“Even when we lost a bunch of one-run games early on this year and we were in a tough situation, we talked about staying the course and continuing to play Pine-Richland baseball. And how do you do that? You play for each other. You have to care for the person next to you more then you do yourself,” Wolfe said.
“You're only successful when you start believing that and start doing it. There's no question that this junior class is special with understanding the importance of that and showing it with their performances in the games.”
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.