Trib HSSN Baseball Team of the Week for May 3, 2021

Monday, May 3, 2021 | 10:02 PM

Even though there was a change in coaches between 2019 and 2021, the trajectory of the Bethel Park baseball program hasn’t changed direction.

After a perfect 3-0 week, the Black Hawks are one win away from the Section 4-5A title and are near the top of the list of contenders in Class 5A.

“Bethel Park has been a great baseball program for many years now,” first-year coach Pat Zehnder said. “We understand that this program has a reputation of success thanks to the players and coaches that came before us, and we want to work every day to make them, our fans, our school and our community proud.

“I could not have asked for a better group of guys to coach or coach with in my first official varsity spring season. We have a great mix of old and young, experienced and inexperienced players that are extremely hungry and work hard together every day to get better. The assistant coaches, Kyle Nicholson and Joe Ranalli, have been a constant source of knowledge and wisdom.”

Zehnder couldn’t ask for a better week of pitching in the Hawks’ three wins last week as they won by a combined score of 20-3 over two likely 5A playoff-bound teams.

On Monday, Bethel Park traveled to Fox Chapel for a nonsection game against the second-place team in Section 2-5A. The Hawks picked up their first shutout of the week with a 5-0 victory.

“Fox Chapel is a very tough team,” Zehnder said. “Sophomore Nathan Vargo had a great outing for us, throwing an efficient five innings before sophomore Evan LeJeune and junior Cody Geddes closed it out.

“Vargo was able to keep his pitch count low enough in five innings to stay available for the section games later in the week. Eric and John Chalus each had two hits, and four different players had big RBI hits. Jacob Patterson, who threw for Fox Chapel, is a great all-around player, and the guys worked some tough at-bats against him to get their runs.”

On Wednesday, Bethel Park headed south to Fayette County for the first of two section showdown games against Connellsville. The Black Hawks were 5-0 while the Falcons checked in with a 4-0 section record.

“Wednesday was a good combination of the offense busting out, Eric Chalus doing his usual great things on the mound in shutting down opponents and big defensive plays,” Zehnder said. “It was good to see the team clicking on almost all cylinders. Chalus also had three hits with a double, David Kessler hit his second home run, and Ben Hudson, Bo Conrad, Zack Sackett and Ray Altmeyer had big hits.”

The Black Hawks cruised to a 13-0 whitewash of the Falcons.

After a couple of rainouts, the rematch between the top two teams in Section 4-5A took place at Bethel Park on Saturday afternoon. While the score was much closer, the result was the same with the Black Hawks shutting down the Falcons.

“Saturday was all about Evan Holewinski and his 72-pitch shutout,” Zehnder sid. “He’s an extremely impressive sophomore. He had all three pitches going Saturday. His changeup was also extremely effective, and he was able to keep a good Connellsville lineup off balance.

“Gage Gillott, who threw for Connellsville, is extremely good, so we knew it was going to be a tough game. We were fortunate to get to Gillott early for two runs, both RBIs earned by Cody Geddes, including a double. It was great to get two wins against a good team like Connellsville.”

The three wins improved the Black Hawks to 11-2 and gave them a six-game winning streak heading into their two section games with Thomas Jefferson this week.

“I really like the direction the team is trending as we get toward the back end of the regular season,” Zehnder said. “We still have some unfinished business to take care of this week before we think too much about the playoffs yet, but the players continue to practice extremely hard and are performing well in big situations. We still believe we have yet to play our best baseball and are excited to continue to work toward our goals this year.”

2021 Trib HSSN Baseball Teams of the Week

Week 4 – Hopewell Vikings

Week 3 – Hempfield Spartans

Week 2 – Shaler Titans

Week 1 – Valley Vikings

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