Trib HSSN Baseball Player of the Week for May 15, 2022

Sunday, May 15, 2022 | 6:10 PM

Following an 8-2 start to the 2022 baseball season, Knoch hit a rut as April turned to May.

A four-game losing streak killed the Knights’ chances at a Section 1-4A title and saw them slipping toward the middle of the pack in Class 4A.

Winning three of four games last week, though, has lifted the team’s spirits on the eve of this year’s playoffs.

“We played good baseball and gave our starters some time off the field,” Knoch coach Bill Stoops said. “After losing two games to North Catholic, I said to the team, ‘We are going to end the regular season on a winning streak starting with Shady Side Academy,’ knowing the seniors did not want to lose to on their senior night.”

Thanks to senior Angelo DeLeonardis, the Knights were perfect.

The Chatham recruit was 3 for 3 with a double, triple, three runs scored and three RBIs.

DeLeonardis was even better on the mound, retiring all 15 Bulldogs batters he faced for a five-inning perfect game in the Knights’ 14-0 victory.

“What a way to go out,” Stoopes said. “Chatham is getting a great athlete and baseball player to help their program. I know he will succeed in any endeavor he undertakes.”

The next night, Knoch stepped up in class and lost to 6A Butler, 11-1. Despite the loss, DeLeonardis continued his hot streak at the plate with two more hits, a double and his team’s lone RBI.

“Being ready for any challenge,” Stoopes said. “The thing that stuck out the most is the double. There was a bad throw from the outfield, and nobody covered third base, so he took advantage by running to third and sliding to the home plate side of third. At the time, Angelo said, ‘I saw nobody was at third, so I took off.’ That is the type of player he exudes.”

After another hit and walk in two at-bats with two runs scored and two stolen bases on Wednesday in a 10-4 win over Kiski Area, DeLeonardis was ready to shine at the plate and on the mound Thursday.

DeLeonardis was 3 for 4 with two runs scored, plus he threw the final three innings, allowing only two hits and striking out two for another win in Knoch’s 7-4 triumph over Penn Hills.

“He knew that he had to set the team up for success by getting on base, stealing two bases, priming the rest of the team up to win and scoring two runs,” Stoopes said. “When I went out to the mound to take Cody Stull out, I gave Angelo the ball knowing he had what it took to win the game, and he did not disappoint.”

For the season, DeLeonardis is hitting .415 with six doubles, two triples, 17 runs scored and 10 RBIs.

“At the plate, he looks to get on base no matter what it takes,” Stoopes said. “He works on hitting the ball to all fields, and even if we ask him to bunt, he is willing to do that. In addition, he has a good two-strike approach and rarely strikes out.

“On the field, we moved him to second and third to save his arm. He works hard to field ground balls and we even moved him to right field. He can play anywhere. Consequently, at Chatham, I think he is going to catch.”

His numbers on the mound this season have been impressive. He is 4-1 with a 1.45 ERA.

“We used him in relief against Highlands,” Stoops said. “He kept us in the game and after 100 pitches, we had to take him out. The win against Highlands was a big lift for the team. Against Shady Side, we planned to pitch him only two or three innings, but after three, (the coaching staff) said to me, ‘You can’t take him out. Let him finish the game.’ Against Penn Hills, before the game, Angelo said, ‘I am ready to pitch if you need me.’ We needed him to finish the game and he got the win.”

Knoch has drawn the No. 6 seed in the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs and will face Uniontown in the first round Wednesday.

“We will have two days of good practice to prepare for Uniontown,” Stoops said. “I have seniors who have been to the playoffs in the past and know what it takes. I have good senior leadership, a good coaching staff and will provide good input. I feel the seniors and team worked hard to get us to where we are today and we will honor the baseball program players during our banquet on Sunday and turn our attention to Uniontown.”

2022 Trib HSSN Baseball Players of the Week

Week 5 – Dylan Grabowski, Penn-Trafford

Week 4 – Cam Marshalwitz, Hampton

Week 3 – Wes Parker, Peters Township

Week 2 – Gavin Homer, Indiana

Week 1 – Jake Kendro, Norwin


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