Trib HSSN Baseball Team of the Week for games of May 20-25
Sunday, May 26, 2019 | 10:37 PM
California, which is in the WPIAL baseball finals for the fifth time this decade and the fourth time in the last six years, is the Trib HSSN Team of the Week.
Standing in the way of a sixth district championship for the Trojans is Union, which is making its second straight appearance in the WPIAL Class A title game.
“They hit the ball very,” California coach Lou Pasquale said. “They score a lot of runs. They beat the No. 2 team, so it should be a pretty good game.”
After winning 14 in a row to close out the regular season, California earned the top-seed in Class A and a first-round bye.
The postseason, however, has been no day at the beach for California.
In the quarterfinals Monday, California trailed Eden Christian Academy, 6-3, in the fifth inning before the Trojans rallied for two runs in the fifth and four in the sixth to win 9-6.
“I always say it’s better to win ugly than lose pretty,” Pasquale said. “We had some players hanging their heads when we were down three against Eden, and one of our seniors stepped up and said just because we’re down, don’t mean the game is over. Let’s keep plugging away.
“We had four errors against Eden. Good teams win ugly.”
In the semifinals, a first-inning error by the Trojans helped Quigley Catholic jump out to a 1-0 lead, but California scored three runs in the fourth inning and won 3-1.
“We’re always confident. We have a laid-back team, and it starts with our seniors,” Pasquale said. “Nate (Zemany) and Jake (Swartz) are relaxed players. They told the team early on we don’t throw bats or helmets or curse when we have a bad at-bat.”
Zemany was the winning pitcher in both games last week, as he threw two scoreless inning against Eden and pitched a complete game two days later against Quigley.
Sophomore Payton Conti was a combined 2 for 5 with three runs scored, 3 RBIs and a pair of doubles in the two victories.
So why has this program been so successful over the years? Pasquale, an assistant until taking over as coach before last season, said it’s all about hard work.
“We work hard, we really do. A lot of these kids play multiple sports, so we don’t do a lot in the offseason. They buy into the fundamentals and work hard on them every day.”
Previous Trib HSSN Baseball Teams of the Week:
South Park Eagles
Laurel Highlands Mustangs
Keystone Oaks Golden Eagles
Upper St. Clair Panthers
North Allegheny Tigers
Waynesburg Central Raiders
Trib HSSN Baseball Player of the Week: Mason Rose of Beaver