Trib HSSN Baseball Team of the Week for May 24, 2021

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Monday, May 24, 2021 | 11:57 PM


The Peters Township baseball program has an outstanding tradition with great success in the district and state postseason.

Under the now-retired former coach, Joe Maize, the Indians won back-to-back WPIAL championships in 2007-2008, were the district runner-up once and reached the state finals twice, bringing home silver both times.

However, when the 2021 WPIAL baseball playoffs began last week, there was little-to-no discussion about Peters Township’s chances in the Class 5A playoffs.

There is now.

“After an up-and-down season, believe it or not, I actually really liked our mindset heading into the postseason,” first-year Peters Township coach Rocky Plassio said. “We felt like we played a very strong schedule this season that would help prepare us for the postseason. While our record was not what we had hoped for or expected, we felt like we were very competitive and in a lot of close games, just failing to find a way to win those games.”

The Indians were 8-10 in the regular season and finished in third place in Section 4-5A. They were the No. 13 seed and matched up against No. 4 South Fayette in the opening round.

Peters Township scored two runs in the first and two more in the third to take a lead it did not relinquish.

“Scoring early to grab the lead against South Fayette was huge,” Plassio said. “It gave our kids confidence and created excitement in them that we have been waiting to see all season long. When you’re able to grab an early lead against a favored opponent, I think it puts some pressure on them, which in turn allows us to settle into the game some as well.”

Leading the way for the Indians offensively was senior Mac Ciocco, who went 4 for 4.

“I cannot say enough good things about Mac Ciocco,” Plassio said. “He has been our best hitter all year long. He is our quiet leader, leading by example. Everything Mac hits, he hits hard. I am so proud of him, and his confidence is sky high right now, as is my confidence in him. The best players shine in the brightest moments. Mac has certainly lived up to that billing thus far.”

The Indians stunned the Lions, 6-4, and moved on to face Latrobe in the quarterfinals.

“Our resiliency and ability to respond to both South Fayette and Latrobe has been very impressive,” Plassio said. “We talk a lot about ‘win every pitch, win every inning’ approach to the game. Thus far, the kids have done just that and more. It speaks volumes about their character and mental toughness. It is so gratifying as a coach to watch your players stare at adversity and respond so positively to those situations.”

Peters Township scored four runs in the first three innings and finished with five runs in the final three in a 9-5 triumph over Latrobe.

Besides Ciocco, other Indians such as senior Logan Pfeuffer and juniors Jack Kail and Sam Miller are a big part of why Peters Township is two upsets away from a golden spring.

“Going into the game against Franklin Regional, we know that we are running into our toughest test to date,” Plassio said. “Franklin Regional is such a strong team. They start eight seniors, many of whom are headed to D-1 or D-2 schools to continue their respective careers. They have great pitching, great hitting and are well coached. In order to be successful against them, we must continue to do what we have done in these last two games, get some timely hits, throw strikes and find a way to match or answer them each time they score.

“It should be a lot of fun, and I believe our kids will respond to the challenge.”

2021 Trib HSSN Baseball Teams of the Week

Week 7 – Eden Christian Academy Warriors

Week 6 – Laurel Highlands Mustangs

Week 5 – Bethel Park Black Hawks

Week 4 – Hopewell Vikings

Week 3 – Hempfield Spartans

Week 2 – Shaler Titans

Week 1 – Valley Vikings

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