Trib HSSN baseball team of the week for June 4, 2023

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Sunday, June 4, 2023 | 9:57 PM


Riverside’s WPIAL Class 3A championship game victory over rival Neshannock was a win for the ages.

Or considering the Panthers’ long-time coach, it was a win for the aged.

Numbers were the focus after the Panthers defeated the Lancers for a third time this season 6-1.

• It was WPIAL championship No. 6 for Riverside, moving the Panthers into a tie for third most with Mt. Lebanon, Pine-Richland, Shaler, Neshannock and California, only behind North Allegheny (8), Allegheny (7) and McKeesport (7).

• It was the ninth time since 1960 that a district baseball team won a WPIAL championship with an undefeated record as the Panthers improved to 21-0 this spring.

• The six district crowns for legendary 79-year old Riverside coach Dan Oliastro ties him with Abby Fallquist, McKeesport coach from 1929-1968. Oliastro is the longest-tenured coach in WPIAL history as he wraps up his 55th season in golden style.

“I love playing for Coach. He’s a fun guy to be around,” Riverside junior center fielder Bo Fornataro said. “He tries to make the practices fun. I think he brings the team together well, and a lot of the guys really like him. He tries to stick to old school baseball, bunting the runners over in trying to get runners in scoring position.”

Fornataro was asked if the multiple generational gaps between coach and players are ever an issue away from the game.

“He can adapt with the times as far as trying to pick up on some of the lingo we say so he can try to get in on some conversations with the guys.”

However, even Coach O has his limits.

“We just got new speakers up at the field. Whenever the team gets to play the music we want, he tries to tune it out.”

Whether the Panthers are rapping to Kendrick Lamar or crooning with Frank Sinatra, all they have been doing this spring is winning.

The latest victory was a comeback win at Wild Things Park in the WPIAL Class 3A title game.

Neshannock scored in the top of the fifth before the Panthers responded on an RBI double by Sam Barber that scored Drake Fox to tie the game.

After a pep speech by the Panthers captains before the bottom of the sixth inning, Fornataro led off with his third hit of the game, followed by singles by Hunter Garvin, Mitch Garvin, Fox and Daren McDade, a sacrifice fly by Sean Hayes and a run-scoring single by Evan Burry as Riverside batted around and scored five runs to take control of the title and remain undefeated.

However, don’t bring up the topic of perfection to these golden cats.

“It’s more of a focus thing then anything,” Fornataro said. “Whenever we were playing the Neshannock Lancers in the state playoffs last year, we were practicing the day before the game and we were talking about the state championship. Everybody was talking about the championship game because we had swept Neshannock during the regular season, so they ended up beating us. So now guys focus only on the next game.”

The next game will be Monday in the PIAA 3A opening round against District 6 runner-up Tyrone.

2023 Trib HSSN Baseball Teams of the Week

Week 8 – Neshannock Lancers

Week 7 – Mohawk Warriors

Week 6 – Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils

Week 5 – South Side Rams

Week 4 – Pine-Richland Rams

Week 3 – Canon-McMillan Big Macs

Week 2 – Mars Fightin’ Planets

Week 1 – Shaler Titans

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