Senior class hopes to turn around Greensburg Salem baseball’s record in close games

Monday, March 14, 2022 | 6:27 PM

Eight seniors return to Greensburg Salem, hoping to help the Golden Lions’ baseball team back to the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2019.

With the 2020 season shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, 2021 brought a return to the diamond with little success as Greensburg Salem struggled to a 4-10 record, 4-8 in Section 3-4A, that seemingly could’ve been better.

“We lost four one-run games that went right down to the end,” coach Bill Wisniewski said. “That’s the difference between being a 4-8 team and an 8-4 team.”

In their sparkling 2018 season, Wisniewski’s Golden Lions entered the playoffs with just two losses, but they added a heartbreaking third by dropping a 1-0 decision to eventual WPIAL champion New Castle in the Class 4A quarterfinals.

“This group of seniors was around for that, and they know what it takes to be that team,” Wisniewski said. “It’s good they could experience it, even though they were in middle school at the time.”

Catcher/pitcher Hayden Teska, who led Greensburg Salem last season with a .405 batting average, is among the team’s returning seniors.

While he has been one of the Golden Lions’ top baseball players, it’s football that’s in his future after the former Greensburg Salem quarterback committed early to play at Division II Seton Hill.

“I’ve seen a lot of weight off his shoulders because of that,” Wisniewski said. “I believe he’s going to have a great season for us this year. It’ll be fun to watch him. We’re definitely counting on him.”

Senior outfielder Dylan Sarsfield last season tied Teska for the team lead with 17 hits while batting .370.

Right-hander Jake Smith led the Golden Lions pitching staff a year ago as a junior, posting a 4-0 record with a 4.12 ERA to account for all their winning decisions.

“He’s a great pitcher because he thinks the game, hits the spots and lets the defense work,” Wisniewski said.

Junior Owen Tutich, another right-hander, will be counted upon to eat innings, Wisniewski said, adding that Tutich also will have an opportunity to play some in the outfield.

Rounding out the list of seniors are second baseman Caden Cioffi, catcher Dom Falvo, outfielders Ritchie Christleit and Aiden Lukart and first baseman/pitcher Ethan Heese, who sat out last season with a knee injury.

“What’s nice about this senior-laden team is they played last year as juniors,” Wisniewski said. “The year before, with covid, they didn’t get that experience. They got a baptism last year to high school baseball.”

Wisniewski said he’s confident that his players are ready to turn the page from last year’s frustrating season.

“We were finding ways to lose rather than expecting to win,” he said. “We’ve had a great offseason and, hopefully, that translates into a better approach to each game.”

As Wisniewski enters his ninth season as coach of the Golden Lions, he admittedly feels as hungry for a return to the postseason as his players presumably do.

He’s ready and willing to help them in any way, he said, but it’s up to them to perform.

“I tell them all the time, ‘I don’t set the bar. The bar is what it is,” he said. “It’s the coach’s job to help you get to that bar, help you understand that as time goes on, players get bigger, stronger and faster and you need to keep up.’”

Wisniewski is hoping for some contributions from underclassmen, as well. He said that, while the team possesses strong senior leadership, there are juniors, sophomores and freshmen to fill out the roster.

“They’ll accept the role that we need for the team,” he said, “Whether it’s a defensive role, pinch runner, whatever, we’re certainly going to be counting on them to learn the speed of the game and be ready for anything.”


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