Serra Catholic won’t take Devon Prep lightly despite team’s 11-13 record
By: Jeff Oliver
Friday, June 14, 2019 | 10:25 AM
Serra Catholic’s state championship opponent brings an 11-13 record into the contest.
But you can believe the Eagles (23-3) and their veteran coach Brian Dzurenda aren’t expecting an easy game against Devon Prep in the PIAA Class 2A final.
The teams meet at 4:30 p.m., Friday at Penn State.
“They play in the Philadelphia area and if you look at their schedule, most of their losses are against Class 5A and 6A teams,” Dzurenda said. “There aren’t many 2A teams in Philly.
“So, their record is misleading because of the quality of the teams they have played.”
Serra also has past history to know that in state championship baseball games, overall records don’t mean much. In 2011, when Serra won the state title against Reading Catholic, its opponents had a losing record.
“We beat them 4-0, but they were a good baseball team,” Dzurenda said. “We’re not thinking about records. We know you have to be good to get this far.”
Devon Prep, the District 12 champion, has won six straight games including a 3-1 victory over South Williamsport in the semifinals.
The Tide is led by senior Andrew Czachor, who has a team-best .429 batting average. He is also their top pitcher with a 3-0 record and a 1.31 ERA with 34 strikeouts and five walks in 21.1 innings pitched.
Against South Williamsport, Czanchor pitched four hitless innings in relief and struck out nine.
“He throws pretty hard,” Dzurenda said. “He throws in the 80s. He looks tough.”
Other key players for the Tide include Jackson Jonik (.328, 20 hits, 15 RBI, 7 extra-base hits), Paul Grycewicz (.325), Aaron Nuble (.314, 22 hits, 20 runs, 11 RBI) and Mike Romano (.299, 20 hits, 13 RBI).
“We really don’t know a whole lot about them,” Dzurenda said. “But they probably don’t know much about us, either.”
There is at least one player Devon Prep will know about. That’s Serra catcher Mark Black. The St. John’s recruit is hitting .522 with 14 home runs.
In eight WPIAL and PIAA playoff games, he has drawn 17 intentional walks. He has had just eight official at-bats with six hit, including slugging four home runs.
However, Black has made maximum use of what little chances he has received.
In Serra’s 4-3 semifinal win over Seton LaSalle, Black saw one pitch and belted it for a homer. He was walked his next three times up.
“It’s really phenomenal what has happened to him in the playoffs,” Dzurenda said. “Nobody wants to pitch to him.”
Black isn’t alone as a tough out for Serra opponents. Teammates Alex Glumac (.397), Logan Brennan (.367) and Nico Eremic (.333) have been dependable clutch hitters all season long.
The trio also plays key roles in Serra’s pitching success. Dzurenda said he expects all three to pitch against Devon.
Glumac (10-2, 1.21 ERA) will start. Exler, a savvy left-hander, will back him with an inning or two and then Brennan may finish up.
“(Brennan) has pretty much been our closer this season,” Dzurenda said. “I expect all three to see action on the mound.”
The Eagles are playing in the state title game for the fourth time in his 20 years.
“This is a fun time of year,” Dzurenda said with a smile. “This team has been very close. They enjoy playing together and they really like each other. I truly think that has been the key to our success. There are no prima donnas, just a bunch of kids who like playing with and for each other.”