Sewickley Academy baseball hit stride in season’s 2nd half

Sunday, June 4, 2023 | 11:01 AM

A month into the WPIAL baseball season, Sewickley Academy finally found its groove.

The Panthers were 3-7 and riding a three-game losing streak on April 18. Following a 16-2 section loss to Eden Christian, Sewickley exploded for seven wins in a row to enter the WPIAL playoffs.

The Panthers finished third in Section 3-A with a 9-3 record behind Eden Christian (11-1) and Bishop Canevin (10-2).

Down the season’s home stretch, Sewickley defeated, in succession, Cornell (10-5, 22-4), Carlynton (16-8, 16-6) Clairton (15-0, 1-0) and, in the first round of the playoffs, Fort Cherry (13-6).

The doubleheader sweep against Carlynton clinched the playoff berth for the Panthers.

Sewickley lost to Union, 7-2, in the WPIAL quarterfinals to end up 10-8 overall.

The Panthers were led in 2023 by the one-two punch of senior center fielder/shortstop Adin Zorn and junior pitcher/infielder Jordan Smith.

Zorn, a Penn State baseball recruit, was one of the premier players in the WPIAL. He was a three-year starter whose freshman season was wiped out by the covid-19 pandemic.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Zorn led the club in batting average (.538), runs (26), hits (28), doubles (8), home runs (5) and slugging percentage (1.019) and ranked second in on-base percentage (.625) and RBIs (19). He recorded 28 hits in 52 official at-bats.

Zorn also was a four-year starter on the Sewickley boys soccer team.

“I’m very proud of what the soccer and baseball teams have accomplished the past four years,” Zorn said. “We made the playoffs for both sports every year and were very competitive in our section, so I’m proud of that and happy I got to be a part of it.”

Zorn also led the team in 2022 in several offensive categories, including batting average (.617), on-base percentage (.690), slugging percentage (1.106), home runs (3), runs (22), hits (29) and doubles (12).

As a sophomore, he led the team with a .650 batting average, .708 on-base percentage and 1.125 slugging percentage, to go along with 11 doubles, two home runs, 20 runs scored and 26 hits.

Zorn is scheduled to report June 25 to Penn State to begin his college baseball career. He said he will miss his days at Sewickley Academy.

“I’ll never forget all the practices, bus rides and big playoff games. I just enjoyed playing with all my friends,” Zorn said. “It was a great experience to represent your school with kids you’ve known for years. I’ll definitely miss it, but I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”

Smith was the team leader in on-base percentage (.641), RBIs (23) and stolen bases (13) and finished second in batting average (.538), runs (23), hits (25), doubles (7) and slugging percentage (.750). Smith collected 25 hits in 48 at-bats.

Smith is a three-year starter and a three-sport athlete at Sewickley, participating in baseball, basketball and golf.

“I thought I met my expectations for this year. Last year I was more of a ‘base hit’ type of hitter. This year, I did way better at the plate with hitting a lot of extra-base hits,” Smith said. “My pitching was way better than last year, striking out more players and letting my defense take care of any hit balls. I usually use my fastball to find the zone and get ahead in the count.”

Smith lifts weights in the offseason and plays travel baseball with the Pittsburgh Diamond Dawgs.

The Panthers hit .351 as a team as four other players were members of the .300 club: senior catcher Nick Straka (.385), senior outfielder Hudson Colletti (.371), junior outfielder Michael Woo (.364) and senior first baseman Nick Madison (.360).

Straka was a third-year starter behind the plate.

Andrew and Hudson Colletti were base-stealing threats with 12 and 11, respectively. Andrew is a sophomore third baseman.

Madison generated offensive firepower this season, driving in 17 runs and scoring 15 times.

Sewickley scored 152 runs on 160 hits in 2023 including 49 extra-base hits. (39 doubles, 5 triples, 5 home runs). Zorn belted all five of the team’s round trippers.

Smith and senior pitcher Bennett Spencer led the pitching staff with three wins apiece. Smith was 3-2 in 10 games and struck out 40 in 45.2 innings. He threw a team-high 711 pitches and finished with a 3.99 ERA.

“I was very impressed with everyone on the team,” said the 5-8, 179-pound Smith, a right-handed hurler. “They have grown so much since last year and the fighting spirit that they had throughout the game really says a lot about who we are as a team.

“In addition, our new assistant, coach (Jon) Coyne, was a great addition. He worked very hard to help all of us individually become a better player for the team.”

Smith also was the team’s workhorse on the mound in 2022 with 39.1 innings pitched and 20 strikeouts. He received the team’s most improved player award last year.

Spencer was 3-0 in nine games and compiled a team-leading 3.00 ERA. He played second base when not on the mound.

The Panthers opened the season with their first spring training trip to Myrtle Beach, where they played one game, scrimmaged twice and saw plenty of practice time.

Smith will lead a group of six returning starters on next year’s club.

Also expected back are sophomores Nolan Donnelly, Will Straka and Andrew Colletti and freshman Billy Pietragallo (SS) and Woo.

“After losing all the seniors, we will be short on players,” Smith said. “Hopefully, there will be some new players that we can add to the team next year.”


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