Trib HSSN Baseball Player of the Week for June 21, 2021

Monday, June 21, 2021 | 6:29 PM

Bethel Park used the one-two punch of senior lefty Eric Chalus and sophomore righty Evan Holewinski all season in route to a Section 4-5A title, a runner-up trophy in the WPIAL playoffs and the Black Hawks’ first state baseball championship in 33 years.

However, with six of BP’s eight postseason games decided by two runs or less, a third pitcher surfaced in key situations who may not have received the fanfare of his two out-inducing teammates.

Junior Cody Geddes quietly came up clutch time and time again for the Black Hawks. Was he overlooked in his role as Bethel Park closer?

“I think it is possible, and personally I have been fine with being able to unleash that somewhat-secret-weapon in the last inning to close out games before his name really got out there,” Bethel Park first-year coach Patrick Zehnder said. “He is a very good all-around baseball player, and I am glad to see him get the recognition he deserves.”

Geddes was a closer that also carried a big stick and played a nifty third base in his “day job.”

In the PIAA 5A semifinals Monday against District 6 champion Central Mountain, Holewinski was throwing a gem, but the game remained scoreless through seven innings. Enter Geddes, who pitched the final two and got the win as the Black Hawks walked off at Penn State with a run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

“Evan was his usual outstanding self on Monday,” Zehnder said. “He went seven scoreless innings and deserved the win, but our offense was also stymied by Central Mountain’s great pitcher. Cody was our next option in short relief, but he can also throw multiple innings, as he even had a start in the regular season against Seneca Valley and threw well. Cody was able to battle through some tough at-bats and situations to keep Central Mountain off the board until we were finally able to put a run across.”

At the plate, Geddes had one of the Black Hawks’ few hits as he went 1 for 3.

“He battled through an 0-2 count to find a way to get a hit and get on base for his team,” Zehnder said. “He has also consistently been one of the first players to practice, and really has become one of the leaders on the team. Cody has also consistently driven in runs from the No. 4 spot in the order in clutch situations.”

In the state championship game Thursday, Geddes left his mark early and late against Red Land.

In the first inning, Geddes tripled home the game’s first two runs and later scored as Bethel Park jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.

“That was a huge hit for us,” Zehnder said. “It would have been a home run in almost every other field we played on this year, and that really provided us with the boost we needed to get ourselves going. We had a lot of energy and confidence going into the game, and a hit like that obviously helped that continue.”

Down 4-0 after two innings, Red Land chipped away and trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh. The Patriots made some noise, but Geddes shut the door and earned a save to secure the Black Hawks second state baseball championship.

“Fortunately for us, or unfortunately for our blood pressure, almost every one of our playoff games were close games that we found a way to win,” Zehnder said. “That experience helped provide us confidence going into that game and going into the later innings where we knew we were going to get Red Land’s best shot.

“For Cody to come into that situation in the seventh inning against the top of the order of one of the most talented lineups in the state, have the inning start the way it did, and still find a way to shut the door shows his mental toughness, determination and competitive drive. It was the ultimate championship-deciding moment, and he gave everything he had to come out on top. I’m so proud of the way he responded.”

The junior stood tall as he ended up at the bottom of the victors’ dog pile. It was a moment he worked for all season.

“Cody has done well all year in that closer role, coming into the game usually against the toughest part of the lineup to get the hardest three outs of the game,” Zehnder said. “He is a very talented kid and should have a lot of confidence in his abilities to be successful in those situations.”

Geddes’ strength on the diamond is his strength. Zehnder believes his work ethic off the field is a big part of his success on it.

“Cody is a very strong and athletic kid,” he said. “He works hard in the gym to continue to gain strength, and his attitude has been excellent. He was our No. 4 hitter all year, and consistently produced in a run-producing position, especially in the must-have situations. He has excellent power offensively, and when on, arguably has the best stuff on the mound on our team. He has also been very dependable defensively at third base.”

After coming so close in the WPIAL title game, losing 2-1 to Franklin Regional on a walk-off hit, Bethel Park was able to bounce back and win for state postseason games while allowing only five runs to make this spring feel like Christmas, with plenty of silver and gold.

“It was such a great feeling and experience to win the state championship,” Zehnder said. “To come so close and not get the WPIAL gold definitely hurt, but I could tell the very next practice after that loss that this team had the toughness and determination to go along with the talent needed to win a state title. I am so happy for this group that all their hard work paid off. They battled through some of the toughest in-game situations imaginable and continued to find ways to come out on top. This will be a run that these kids and this community will never forget.”

2021 Trib HSSN Baseball Players of the Week

Week 11 – Eric Chalus, Bethel Park

Week 10 – Rocco Bernadina, New Castle

Week 9 – Jake Vitale, Union

Week 8 – Adam Crawford, West Allegheny

Week 7 – Steven Budash, Indiana

Week 6 – Spencer Barnett, North Allegheny

Week 5 – Louie Kegerreis, Franklin Regional

Week 4 – Drew Lafferty and Austin Lafferty, South Park

Week 3 – Payton Conti, California

Week 2 – Jake Slazinski, Keystone Oaks

Week 1 – Jake Walker, West Mifflin


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