Quaker Valley, Sewickley Academy looking for improvement this season

Saturday, March 23, 2019 | 9:14 AM

Count Sewickley Academy and Quaker Valley among the baseball teams aiming for bounce-back seasons.

The Panthers and Quakers earned a combined 8-20 record and missed the playoffs in 2018. Each team believes it has the roster to be a contender this spring, and it starts on the mound.

“I see a lot of very good players and talent here,” Quaker Valley first-year coach Dean Owrey said. “There a lot of guys who love the game and do everything they’re asked to do with 100 percent effort. I think the strength of this team is the pitching where we are very deep.”

Quaker Valley has nine pitchers, five of them left-handed, to choose from. Seniors Christian Johnston and Jacob Commens likely will get the bulk of the team’s starts.

“Christian and Jacob are great young leaders and great young men, and I expect a lot from them,” Owrey said.

“Christian is a really hard thrower and an intelligent baseball player. Jacob is a sleeper who can also throw hard and hit his spots.”

Quaker Valley needs several players to have breakout seasons at the plate. No returning player had above a .300 average in 2018, and Kent State commit Ethan Moore will not play his senior year.

Mike Tanabe, Isaac Guss, David Lipton, Yeudi Almanzar and Isaiah Piatt are expected to be at the top of the lineup. Piatt led the team with three home runs last year.

“We always talk about three forms of preparedness,” Owrey said. “We want to be physically prepared, which they are. We talk about mental preparedness, just having a winner’s attitude and being resilient. With those two in place, what I want us to be known for is being situationally prepared and sound.”

Sewickley Academy also will look to be more prepared after having a small roster and a handful of experienced baseball players.

“We had some players who decided to try baseball out last year, and it’s not an easy sport to jump right into,” coach Andrew Petruska said.

“While we had a step back in the win column, we learned a lot. We had a lot of players grow into leaders.”

Sewickley Academy’s Jon DelVecchio and Cole Karlik, seniors who recently ended their basketball season, will be the team’s pitching and offensive leaders. If one is on the mound, the other will play shortstop.

“They had to lead the team last year, too, and that was a lot to carry on their shoulders,” Petruska said. “It was hard at times, but they’re also so positive. Jon will help anyone, and Cole has a great sense of humor and ability to bring everyone together. Other players have developed a lot more around them.”

Sophomore Hudson Bordeau will be one of the team’s offensive threats after batting .514 as a freshman and leading the Panthers with 19 hits. He also had a team-high six extra-base hits.

Junior Dimitri Gary has been a natural leader on the team because of his high baseball IQ, said Petruska, who believes the Panthers are capable of returning to the playoffs in the same year they move up to Class 2A.

“I’m excited for it,” Petruska said.

“We’ll play a little bit better competition. We might not have had the best record last year, but I know we have guys who have been successful, and they’re excited to be up a level.”

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