Trib HSSN baseball player of the week for May 28, 2023

Sunday, May 28, 2023 | 9:17 PM

As a sophomore pitcher, Evan Holewinski started a WPIAL quarterfinal game as well as a PIAA first-round and semifinal playoff games.

He allowed a total of three runs in his three starts, all Bethel Park victories.

Last season, the Kent State recruit pitched a shutout in the district consolation game, then threw two more shutouts in the PIAA postseason in leading the Black Hawks to a second straight PIAA Class 5A championship.

Now, the right-hander is at it again as he winds down a dominant scholastic career.

“Evan works extremely hard in the weight room to condition his body and enable him to stay healthy and do all that is asked of him throughout the season,” Bethel Park coach Patrick Zehnder said. “He also knew we were going to rely a lot more on him offensively than we have in the past. It’s not that he hasn’t always been a very good hitter, but we didn’t have him bat when he pitched last year so he could focus on just one thing.

“He knew he was going to be hitting every day and also playing some outfield due to some injuries we had just before the season started. When your best player has the work ethic, leadership and attitude like Evan does, it really helps the other players follow suit.”

Following a first-round bye, Holewinski made his 2023 postseason debut in the quarterfinals, shutting out rival Upper St. Clair, 6-0.

“Evan showed great command of the strike zone against USC,” Zehnder said. “He was able to locate all of his pitches for strikes. Playing in the tinder box that Peterswood Park can be, it was ultra-important to get ahead of hitters and not let them hunt in fastball counts.

“That place can also be an intimidating place to pitch, because both dugouts and fan stands are right on the field. Evan is so unflappable and emotionless while on the mound. He handles those types of atmospheres better than just about any player I’ve seen.”

Holewinski helped his own cause with a two-run homer in the quarterfinal victory over the Panthers.

“Evan’s home run in the second inning gave the team the shot of energy and confidence they needed to shake any nerves or cobwebs that were left from the long layover of having the bye and not playing in an intense atmosphere since section play,” the coach said. “In the biggest moments, he continuously finds ways to come through for his team. Similarly to how he is on the mound, he is so calm at the plate, and never seems to miss a barrel, even if he is fooled on the pitch type. He hits the ball to all fields with power, and does whatever the game asks of him in the moment to be productive for his team.”

The following day, Holewinski had a hit and an RBI as Bethel Park clinched its second trip to the 5A finals in three years with a victory over Penn-Trafford, 8-5.

“Evan had a big sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first inning to help answer the two runs Penn-Trafford put on the board in the top of the first,” Zehnder said. “He then led off the bottom of the third with a double, which was big because we had recently fallen behind again by one run. He advanced to third on a good dirt ball read, and then scored on a wild pitch.

“While he didn’t have any more hits that game, he made multiple above-average catches in right field, and cut off a ball down the line to hold a batter to a single. Whether it is on the mound, bases, in the field, or the dugout, Evan is always making a positive impact on the team.”

The win sets the stage for a classic, as No. 1 seed Shaler (18-4) battles No. 2 Bethel Park (17-4) in a championship game featuring two of the top pitchers in the district, Holewinski for the Black Hawks and senior Miguel Hugas for the Titans.

Shaler will be an unbelievable test,” Zehnder said. “They are an extremely talented, well-coached team. They put pressure on teams offensively on the bases, and with various plays to score runs with players outside the middle of their order.

“Their hitters can hit the ball to all fields, and have a great two-strike approach. They make you earn everything you get, because they aren’t going to make mistakes, and will absolutely capitalize on any mistakes we make. The matchup of Holewinski/Hugas is something that any baseball fan can get up for. This is what it is all about, the two best teams and the two best players going head to head for the championship. It will be a great game in a great atmosphere.”

2023 Trib HSSN Baseball Players of the Week

Week 7 – Ty Eberhardt, Hopewell

Week 6 – Colin Watson, Plum

Week 5 – Andrew Hart, North Allegheny

Week 4 – Frank Kula, Laurel Highlands

Week 3 – Mason Horwat, Avonworth

Week 2 – Zane Griffaton, West Mifflin

Week 1 – Ryan Opfer, Chartiers-Houston


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