Trib HSSN baseball team of the week for June 2, 2024

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Sunday, June 2, 2024 | 9:09 PM


Trib HSSN baseball team of the week: Avonworth

Coaches: Jeff Bywalski (second season)

Records: Avonworth finished in second place in Section 2-3A with a record of 8-2, one game behind section winner South Allegheny. The Antelopes are 16-8 overall.

#Earned: Avonworth was the No. 7 seed entering the WPIAL baseball playoffs and blanked Greensburg Salem, 7-0, in the first round on a no-hitter by sophomore Cooper Sharding. Two weeks ago, Avonworth won a pair of postseason games by one run to secure its first title game appearance in 32 years by edging East Allegheny, 5-4, and knocking off upset-minded Burrell, 2-1 in 8 innings. In the championship game, Avonworth trailed early, took the lead, lost the lead, regained the lead and then lost it again in the bottom of the seventh inning. After six scoreless extra innings, the Antelopes outlasted defending WPIAL and PIAA champion Riverside in 14 innings 4-3. It was the longest title game in district history.

Standout performers: Trailing Riverside ace Christian Lucarelli after three innings in the WPIAL final, Avonworth took its first lead in the top of the fourth inning when junior Mason Metz led off with a single and later scored on an RBI single by junior Alex Rowe. Scharding, who had walked, would score on a bases-loaded walk to sophomore Jack Dolan. The Panthers tied the score in the fourth inning 2-2, before the ‘Lopes regained the lead in the fifth when Metz walked and later scored on a single by senior Luke Zelinko. The combo delivered again in the 14th inning when Metz doubled and scored what would be the title-winning run on another single by Zelinko. The pitching for the Antelopes was awesome. Senior Aidan Tinker pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed one earned run on nine hits with five strikeouts. Scharding in relief pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up no runs on two hits with nine strikeouts for the win.

Last Year: Avonworth won the Section 2-3A championship, finishing with a 9-1 section record, one game ahead of second-place South Park, three games better than third-place South Allegheny and four games in front of fourth-place Keystone Oaks. In the WPIAL playoffs, the Antelopes rolled past Derry, 9-0, in the first round and Shenango, 9-2, in the quarterfinals. The ‘Lopes’ district dream ended with a tough 2-1 loss to Neshannock in the semifinals. After blanking East Allegheny, 9-0, in the 3A consolation game, the season ended for Avonworth in a loss to District 6 Philipsburg-Osceola, 4-3.

Remember when: In stunning Riverside on Tuesday, Avonworth captured the program’s second WPIAL baseball championship and first crown in more than three decades. The only other time the ‘Lopes raised gold on the baseball diamond was when they edged Apollo-Ridge, 4-3, to capture the 1992 WPIAL Class 2A title. In the state playoffs that season, Avonworth defeated District 10 runner-up Cranberry, 15-6, before ending its season with a state quarterfinals loss to eventual PIAA runner-up Ridgway, 11-9.

2024 Trib HSSN Baseball Teams of the Week

Week 8: Indiana

Week 7: South Park Eagles

Week 6: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

Week 5: Plum

Week 4: Valley

Week 3: Pine-Richland

Week 2: Eden Christian Academy

Week 1: Shady Side Academy

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