Sewickley Academy baseball hoping to build on 1st playoff appearance in 3 years
Sunday, May 23, 2021 | 11:01 AM
Coming into this season, players on the Sewickley Academy baseball team wanted to change how they were perceived.
After missing out on the playoffs the last two playable years, the Panthers wanted to show they weren’t a team to roll over every time they took the field.
“The guys approached us coaches and had a game plan to start even before we had anything,” Sewickley Academy coach Anthony Garofalo said. “They said they wanted to be a part of something different, and they wanted to change the narrative of Sewickley baseball and they did just that.”
The Panthers players wanted to take the program back to the postseason and also did just that.
Sewickley Academy got off to a hot start, winning six of its first seven games, before losing four of its final five heading into the playoffs. But the Panthers finished third in Section 3-A play and earned a No. 9 seed in the playoffs.
“That was awesome and you could tell how excited the guys were,” Garofalo said about the team making the playoffs for the first time in three years. “They were focused, they were getting pumped up, and it was just great seeing them experience that, especially for the seniors who hadn’t been there.”
Their season came to an end May 19 when West Greene slugged its way to a 12-7 victory over the Panthers in the first round of the playoffs. But they didn’t go down without a fight.
The two teams went back and forth, and the Panthers held the lead at times, but they ultimately couldn’t recover from a few mishaps that cost them late in the game.
“I think we did what we did most of the year, and that was just battle throughout the whole game,” Garofalo said. “We were up a few times, we were down, but we just continued to battle. There were a few blunders in the field, and we were able to bounce back after the first one, but one was later in the game and we just couldn’t bounce back after it.”
Garofalo and co-coach Andrew Petruska will return a lot of their roster for next season, losing three seniors in Hudson Bordeau, Tommy Sykes and Nick Wilson. After hitting .536 with 10 RBIs, Bordeau might be the biggest lost but Garofalo said all three players contributed in their own way.
“They are going to be really missed,” Garofalo said. “They were all contributors, but they are just great guys to have around the team as well. The respect that they showed and the leadership they had within the team will for sure be missed.”
While the season might’ve ended sooner than they wanted, the Panthers who will return next year got a lot of experience that will prove valuable.
Sophomore Adin Zorn proved to be a leader, even as one of the younger players on the team, and freshman Jordan Smith pitched in Sewickley’s playoff matchup against West Greene.
“Just getting that experience is going to make it even easier for them next year,” Garofalo said. “They are going to be so used to the bigger playoff atmosphere that it’s going to be easier for them to hunker down and kind of zone in on just playing the game. With all of this experience that they are going through it’s just going to benefit the team moving forward.”
Not only will it help them as they build through the offseason, but Garofalo believes their run this season is just another example of the younger players building up the program to compete on a yearly basis.
“They are ready to win and going into next year I think they already have the idea of ‘OK, we are a playoff team already but we want to make some noise next year in the playoffs.” Garofalo said. “All this adds up together with, you get experience making the playoffs and now were confident that we’re already a playoff team so let’s build throughout the regular season and let’s get a better seed then make some noise in the playoffs.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
Tags: Sewickley Academy
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