Riverview baseball says good bye to deep, talented senior class

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Saturday, June 10, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Riverview baseball coach Bill Gras said during the season and in the postseason, he knew his team could play with anyone.

“That comes from the history of the players,” he said. “Other than three players, these guys played in the WPIAL championship game two years ago. They had an off season last year, but they were bouncing back. They showed they had that ability from the start this season to the end.”

It was tough, he said, to see the season end so abruptly in the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals. Riverview led No. 2 Seton LaSalle, 3-0, in the sixth inning before the Rebels rallied for a 6-3 victory.

Gras said this season started to mirror the 2021 campaign with a close win over a strong Eden Christian team, 7-6, the day before Eden dealt the Raiders a 12-1 loss.

Eden went on to win the section, finish third in WPIAL Class A, and advance to the PIAA championship game at Penn State.

This year, Riverview edged WPIAL Class 2A runner-up and PIAA qualifier Serra Catholic, 2-1, before suffering a 12-0 loss to the Eagles the next day.

“Just like two years ago, the guys started to hit the ball more and our strikeouts were getting less and less,” Gras said.

“The guys came together and we felt we could make another run (like 2021).”

Another similarity to the 2021 season was Riverview’s first-round win this year which set up a quarterfinal meeting with the No. 2 seed. The Raiders, as the No. 7 seed, upended No. 10 Avella in the first round two years ago.

This time around, Riverview was the No. 10 seed, but the Raiders didn’t let that deter them as they scored a 7-2 win over Charleroi at Gateway on May 18. Senior Luke Migley and junior Jack Loughren each drove in a pair of runs, sophomore Rece Stempfer went 2 for 3, and senior Cam Shane scored two runs as the Raiders collected seven hits overall.

Senior Enzo Lio pitched into the sixth, scattered six hits and surrendered one earned run while walking two and striking out eight.

Riverview hoped to carry the momentum over against No. 2 Seton LaSalle as it did in the 2021 quarterfinals when it scored a 6-2 victory over then-No. 2 Greensburg Central Catholic.

Things looked good for the Raiders against Seton as they had the Rebels on the ropes. Senior John Patsey and Stempfer both drove in runs as part of Riverview’s three-run fifth. Seton’s offense managed just four hits through five innings against senior starter Ben Hower before coming alive with five hits and the sixth runs in the bottom of the sixth.

“I felt so bad for the guys, especially the seniors. I am still struggling with it,” Gras said. “Of the eight seniors, I had been working with six or seven of them since they were in eighth grade. They played Junior Legion ball for me starting in eighth grade. I really wanted them to win it. They were there and had the taste in 2021. I knew the nerves wouldn’t be there like they were two years ago. They had been through it before.

“They showed what they could do against Charleroi where they stepped up and got the job done. I told the guys that I wanted this for them so much, and I let them down.”

Migley, Lio, Shane, Patsey, Hower and fellow seniors Aidan Drazinger, Kevin Tomlinson and Daniel Roupas will move on from the team.

“This senior group help build the program, and the numbers on the team are growing because of their success,” Gras said.

Migley batted .489 (23 for 47) and led the team in RBIs (15) and runs scored (19). Lio collected a team-high five doubles and tied Loughren with eight RBIs.

Lio also was the workhorse for the Riverview pitching staff. He went 6-1 over nine appearances and finished with a 1.23 earned-run average over 45 2/3 innings of work. He struck out 76 and walked only 12.

Hower complimented Lio with 35 innings.

Loughren, Stempfer and sophomores Eli DeVita, Johnny Bertucci and Tyler Aftanas are among those who will form the nucleus of the 2024 Riverview baseball team.

DeVita, Bertucci, Aftanas and Stempfer remain together this summer on a 16U team in the Rawlings Tigers travel organization.

“We had informal exit interviews this year, and they all know what they want to work on, and they have accepted my advice on what they should work on. They are ready to work and get better,” Gras said.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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