Traveling summer baseball teams keep Hampton players sharp

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Saturday, July 31, 2021 | 8:03 AM


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US Elite baseball coach Ben Pierce was watching his nephew’s hockey game when Hampton’s Adam Dembowski caught his eye.

That chance sighting led Pierce, a Penn Hills graduate now based in Bel Air, Md., to recruit the two-sport Talbot to play for his Baltimore-based Mid-Atlantic all-star travel baseball team.

“He’s a pure athlete,” Pierce said. “Speed and strength.”

Dembowski, a 6-foot, 175-pound center fielder, is flourishing this summer playing in tournaments from Georgia to Florida to Indiana for the US Elite team.

The right-handed hitting Dembowski, who will be a senior in the fall, is batting .380 and leads the 18U team in multiple offensive categories. He hit about .400 in a Perfect Game invitation-only tournament July 21-24 in Fort Myers, Fla.

“Adam is hitting the ball really well,” Pierce said. “He had a great tournament down in Florida. … He’s put together. He’s a rock. He’s a plus defender. He will go get it, and he’s got a great arm and great instincts.”

Dembowski is one of more than a half-dozen returning Talbots who are playing summer baseball on the heels of last spring’s WPIAL playoff berth.

Like Dembowski, Hampton senior pitcher Cam Marshalwitz, a 6-2, 180-pound left-hander for the Northern Virginia-based Mizuno Outlaws, is playing in events along the East Coast, traveling to Greenville, S.C., Annapolis, Md., and Marietta, Ga., this summer.

Senior pitcher/catcher Vinnie Matthews (McCandless Tigers), junior outfielders Ryan Apaliski and Zach Carr (Pittsburgh Spikes), junior shortstop Eric Weeks (Pittsburgh Stars) and junior second baseman Anthony Bucci (Hardcore Elite) also are among coach Kellen Wheeler’s Talbots staying sharp on baseball diamonds around Western Pennsylvania, the East Coast and beyond.

Weeks has missed the past month with a partially torn ligament in his right elbow. The Pittsburgh Stars have played in multiple tournaments in Ohio along with an event in Chicago. Weeks avoided surgery but the recovery process should take about two months. He is expecting to be at full strength in time for basketball season.

“I was doing really good in the beginning of the year. … and then I got hurt,” he said. “Right now I have physical therapy three times a week, and it’s starting to feel better.”

Marshalwitz, a first-team all-Section 2-5A selection last spring, is pitching and playing center field for the Outlaws. He has played in about 30 games this summer, competing in mostly wooden-bat events.

He and Dembowski each attended the Top 50 Baseball Showcase on July 12 in Washington, Pa., where they performed in front of a group of college coaches ranging from Penn State to Washington & Jefferson. Marshalwitz also attended a showcase event at Gardner-Webb on July 29.

“My fastball has been gained a little bit of velocity,” he said. “I’m sitting mid-80s. So, yeah, I’ve been able to put in some work.”

Travel ball is a welcomed return for the Talbots after the covid pandemic wiped out most summer leagues last year. They made due in batting cages and lifting weights during the shutdown.

“It’s so much nicer to get out and go places,” Marshalwitz said. “You look forward to playing places that are a lot different than Western Pa.”

Dembowski is encouraged by his productive summer. He struggled early in the 2021 WPIAL baseball season, as the month-delayed hockey season ran into the spring, prompting a slow start for one of the section’s top outfielders. One day in late March, Dembowski played an afternoon baseball game for the Talbots at Woodland Hills and then zipped to the rink in Valencia for a senior night hockey game.

“The summer was very refreshing to me, especially after that high school season,” he said. “I’ve just been seeing the ball well, and the group of guys make it a good environment to be playing in. I seem to do a little bit better under all the pressure of the games down South.”

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