Trib HSSN Baseball Team of the Week for May 15, 2022
Sunday, May 15, 2022 | 6:19 PM
A year after key injuries helped keep the district’s preseason top-ranked team in Class 5A baseball from reaching its potential, most of those key players were returning for what looked like a potentially dominant spring for West Allegheny.
However, it didn’t take long for injuries to mount and take a big bite of talent out of the Indians lineup.
Virginia Commonwealth recruit Devan Zirwas had a setback in his recovery in February and had to make the difficult decision to not play his senior season.
Then two games in, Auburn recruit Gavin Miller was lost for the season.
The team is also without starting outfielder/pitch Nick Longo and outfielder Parker Brown, who continues his battle with cancer.
“It felt as if the season was over before it even started,” West Allegheny coach Bryan Cornell said. “The kids adjusted by playing really good baseball all season. We have had kids step up time after time and make huge plays at critical moments to pick up a huge series sweep against North Hills, South Fayette and Chartiers Valley and pick up big wins against Shaler and Moon. It seems as if each game there is someone new stepping up and making big plays to help us win.”
The Indians closed out a 15-4 season with three wins last week.
On Monday, there was a playoff feel in the air as West Allegheny edged old rival and the No. 1 seed in the 3A tournament, Hopewell, 3-1.
“Hopewell is a very good program and we were fortunate to come away with a victory,” Cornell said. “Anthony Pass pitched a great game and was able to keep us in the game long enough for us to have a few balls bounce our way and for us to get key hits when it mattered.”
The next day, in a very late addition to the Indians schedule, West A took care of business against host South Side, 16-1.
“The kids didn’t even know that morning that they would be playing a game,” Cornell said. “With the weather not cooperating for much of the season, we have had games canceled and rescheduled daily. We are constantly looking to find teams to play throughout the year because our goal is to get to play 20 games per season. South Side had a last-minute cancellation and sent a WPIAL-wide email asking for a game. We started slow, but we got good pitching from Cole Egan and our lineup from top to bottom hit the ball hard giving us the victory.”
Joseph Pustover, Brady Miller, Colin Marinpetro, Anthony Raineri and Wil Gubba all had multiple hits for the Indians.
On Wednesday, West A went up in classification to take on 6A playoff-bound Norwin. The Indians edged the visiting Knights, 4-3.
“We knew coming in that Norwin would be good and that we had to play good sound fundamental baseball to win,” Cornell said. “They had a leadoff home run to start the game and scored another in the first, so we were down early. Again, we had great pitching as Nathan Nolan struck out 13 for the win and Austin Buzza got the save.”
On offense, Colin Marinpetro hit a solo home run and had two hits while Anthony Raineri had multiple hits. Defensively, Joseph Pustover made a highlight-reel catch in the last inning to help preserve the win.
Last spring, West Allegheny finished in a three-way tie for the Section 3-5A crown with Shaler and South Fayette. This season, the Indians were outright section champs, finishing one game ahead of both the Titans and Lions.
“It was a testament to our kids and their belief in each other,” Cornell said. “With all of the adversity, they could have quit when things didn’t look good in games. We have come from behind and played in close games all year and somehow we find a way to get it done. Shaler and South Fayette are loaded with talent and are very well coached, so for us to win the section outright with all of our setbacks speaks volumes about the character of our team.”
West Allegheny is the No. 3 seed in the upcoming WPIAL 5A baseball playoff and will face Fox Chapel in the first round on Tuesday.
“I know that traditionally Fox Chapel has a very good program and they will be tough to beat,” Cornell said. “Class 5A has a number of teams that could potentially win it. Not sure how so many of those potential teams ended up on the same side of the bracket, but in order to hold the trophy at the end of the season, you have to beat the best. So time will tell. It should be fun.”
2022 Trib HSSN Baseball Teams of the Week
Week 5 – Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils
Week 4 – Shenango Wildcats
Week 3 – Hopewell Vikings
Week 2 – Chartiers Valley Colts
Week 1 – Beaver Bobcats
Tags: West Allegheny
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