South Hills notebook: Injuries pile up for Baldwin baseball

Tuesday, May 11, 2021 | 9:01 AM

Baldwin’s baseball team has been stung hard by the injury bug this season.

Two top starting pitchers, junior Jon Rauch and sophomore Carson Chapel, both lefties, suffered season-ending injuries in April.

“The first half has been really challenging. Rauch and Chapel are done for the season,” coach Steve Bucci said. “Losing both of those guys has thinned out our staff big time. We’ve lost Carson’s bat as well. He led the team in home runs and doubles.

“We have played really inspired baseball with the ‘next man up’ philosophy. Colton Brain, Nick Santillo, Zach Ingold and Dom Stanziano have stepped up with the task of covering the innings lost with Chapel and Rauch out. The hitting has been up and down, but sophomore catcher Dylan Wyse has been tremendous defensively.”

Other leading hitters include Brain (.359), junior outfielder Liam Gutendorf (.346), in the four hole, Wyse (.320) and Rauch.

The Highlanders, led by junior outfielder Ashton Nort’s speed, were 34 for 37 in stolen base attempts.

“The future is bright for this group,” Bucci said. “The coaches are very happy with the team’s commitment and dedication to the program.”

Baldwin ended the season’s first month with a 5-8 record, and 2-6 in Section 2-6A. Senior recognition took place April 24 at Wallace Field in a 7-2 win against Uniontown.

The Highlanders’ starting lineup was as follows: Tim Dowd (RF), Lavelle (CF), Brain (2B), Derrick Deering (LF), Chris Aul (3B), Fletcher Hindman (SS), Patrick Bobuk (1B), Mike Sabo (DH/P), Anthony DeFazio (C).

Lavelle had three hits and sophomore Christian Forgasz secured his first varsity win. Junior hurler Dom Stanziano picked up a save.

“It was a fun day,” Bucci said.

Baldwin softball bounces back

The Baldwin softball team recently learned and took part in a valuable life lesson.

After being humbled by section rival Canon-McMillan, 18-0, the Highlanders rebounded the very next day to defeat the Big Macs, 3-2, in Section 1-6A.

“We just didn’t show up (in the first game) and that’s not Baldwin softball,” coach Gina Fuchs said. “So we had a chat after that game, and I told the girls their character will be revealed when we play them again. The choice is yours in how you respond.

“We came out and BK pitched an amazing game. The defense was solid all night. At the plate, we battled to get on base and got a few timely hits, which we had been working on all week in practice.”

Brookelle Holby, a junior hurler, was the winning pitcher for Baldwin in a complete-game performance. Holby allowed three hits and fanned seven.

After trailing 2-0 for most of the contest, Baldwin rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Grace Schumacher drove in Maleah Pacella, then Anna Schumacher doubled to knock in the tying and winning runs.

“It takes grit and amazing effort to pull together as a team after that kind of loss,” Fuchs said. “To me, it’s not about the win, it’s about how we responded to the loss. We pulled together, got tougher, and more determined.

“I hope my girls see that in life and in sports it’s not about getting knocked down, it’s about getting back up and fighting. That’s exactly what they did and I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”

The Highlanders’ leading hitter through the end of April was sophomore outfielder Grace Schumacher with a .393 batting average.

Other .300 hitters included Pacella, Anna Schumacher, Beatrice Cook and Holby. Kiera Platz led in RBIs.

On May 1, Baldwin socked Peters Township, 11-0, to improve to 3-2 in Section 1-6A and 3-6 overall.

“We have played a tough schedule this year with a young team,” Fuchs said.

TJ’s McCormick, Brentwood’s Bruschi log wins

Two other outstanding pitching efforts were achieved locally in late-April when Thomas Jefferson defeated Connellsville, 7-1, and Brentwood edged Serra Catholic, 3-1.

Sophomore pitcher Alyssa McCormick struck out 11 and allowed two hits for TJ, and was supported by junior outfielder Graci Fairman, who slugged a grand slam in the Section 2-5A win. Senior outfielders Claire Whalen and Paige Truax also doubled and drove in a run.

“Right now, we are at 65% of where I think we should be in terms offensive attack,” coach Heidi Karcher said. “Defensively, we are sound in the outfield, but our infield needs to tighten up and make the routine plays. The hard plays we make; the routine we stumble and those are the ones that will cost us at some point.

“Our hitting is below average as a team. We have the capability to bat but haven’t proven ourselves yet. But as I have experienced before, it’s best to peak late than bloom early.”

Kelli Bruschi, a junior hurler, was the winning pitcher for Brentwood in the Section 2-2A contest. Katie Conway, a sophomore outfielder who had two hits, led the Spartans offensively.

Reinhart, Zandier spark TJ baseball

After starting out 1-6, the Thomas Jefferson baseball team won its final three games in April, defeating Belle Vernon, 14-4, and Trinity twice.

The Jaguars improved to 3-3 in Section 4-5A to climb into WPIAL playoff contention.

“I’m excited to see the improvement in virtually every aspect of the game in recent weeks,” coach Tim Vickers said. “This improvement is indicative of just how hard the players have worked.”

TJ was led offensively in the season’s first month by seniors Shultz Reinhart (IF) and Preston Zandier (OF). Reinhart hit .438 and scored 14 runs. Zandier hit.389 and scored 16 times.

On the mound, senior P/1B Mark Stover compiled 30 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings, while senior P/3B Chase Lautner fanned 24 in 24 1/3 and junior P/IF/OF McClain Flinn whiffed 16 in 13 2/3.

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