Trib HSSN baseball team of the week for May 28, 2023

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Sunday, May 28, 2023 | 9:24 PM


Aliquippa football has proven it doesn’t matter the class where elite programs play, the victories and championships keep coming.

The Neshannock baseball program is definitely among the elite in the WPIAL.

Ten years ago, the Lancers were in Class A. Enrollment numbers eventually put them in 2A, where they technically still belong.

However, Neshannock and Shenango both decided to move up to Class 3A to be together with neighboring rivals Mohawk, Ellwood City and Riverside.

“Several dynamics changed on my end,” Neshannock coach John Quahliero said. “One was my job as a teacher in the New Castle School District. I knew realignment would likely put us with Seton LaSalle, OLSH, Freedom, South Side Beaver, and the only local team that would have stayed is Laurel and possibly Shenango. We weren’t trying to dodge any 2A teams, nor did we think 3A was going to be easier. It was about logistics and Lawrence County.”

Class 2A or 3A, it doesn’t matter for the Lancers, they are one win away from tying Old Allegheny High School and McKeesport for second most district baseball championships behind North Allegheny.

“Every time I get on the bus, I say ‘Guys, it’s not personal, but if you don’t think we’re going to win today, if you have anything else to do tonight, you’re welcome to get off the bus,’ ” said Coach Q, as he’s affectionately called. “Every game we go into, you have to have that mindset. It’s not with arrogance, it’s just ‘this is what we’re going to do to win this game.’ There are going to be things that happen in a game, but we just always try to stay positive in the dugout.”

The power of positivity, and great pitching and defense, were on display this past week in the district quarterfinals and semifinals.

After beating Shady Side Academy, 6-5, in the first round in 10 innings, Neshannock faced Section 4-3A champion Yough in the second round Monday.

Andrew Moses scored the go-ahead run on a squeeze bunt by Luke Glies in the sixth inning to lead the Lancers past the Cougars, 2-1.

Senior Jacob Walzer started and allowed only one unearned run for Neshannock.

The win over Yough in only seven innings snapped a string of four straight Neshannock postseason games that went into extra innings.

In the semifinals, Neshannock edged Avonworth, 2-1, in the seventh straight Lancers playoff game decided by one run.

Senior Andrew Frye pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits with five strikeouts for the Lancers. Nate Rynd led the Neshannock offense with two hits.

“We’re not scoring runs,” Coach Q said. “Pitching and defense is my take on why we’re still alive. That’s just the truth. These guys are hitting their spots and working ahead.”

This is the Lancers’ fourth title game in the last eight seasons as they try to win gold for the first time since 2015 after falling to Serra Catholic in the 2A finals a year ago.

They play undefeated and top-seeded Riverside for the third time this season. The Lancers fell to the Panthers in Section 1-3A action, 4-3, and 12-4.

“No one is ever going to do again what Coach (Oliastro) is doing,” Quahliero said. “Tons of respect for what he has done for the game of high school baseball. They’re 20-0 with the winningest coach in the WPIAL, and the last time we played them in a WPIAL championship was 2016, nine innings, walk-off 1-0 win on a play at the plate, Riverside beat us. We still have that sting, so how can you not get up for this one.”

2023 Trib HSSN Baseball Teams of the Week

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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