Trib HSSN Baseball Team of the Week: May 22, 2022

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Sunday, May 22, 2022 | 9:05 PM


The funny thing about momentum in sports: It doesn’t always carry over from the regular season to the postseason.

However, having it heading into the playoffs can’t hurt.

The Thomas Jefferson baseball team concluded Section 4-5A play with two losses to Bethel Park.

The Jaguars regrouped and picked up three nonsection wins to close out the regular season.

“The second game of the Bethel Park set was brutal,” Thomas Jefferson coach Tim Vickers said. “We thought we had it won, and then after a lightning delay, a hurricane warning and a two day suspension, we ended up losing to a high-quality BP team to finish that skid. The next week provided our players the chance to calm down and refocus as they began preparations for the playoffs.”

The refocus was needed in the Jaguars’ Class 5A playoff opener against No. 5 Latrobe. The Wildcats jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two innings.

Instead of chipping away, Thomas Jefferson got it all back with a six-run third inning and tilted the diamond in their favor for good.

“It was huge,” Vickers said of the third-inning rally. “We are a one-inning, one-pitch-at-a-time team, always have been. Getting six back there helped the team slow the game down to normal speed.”

Several Jaguars were part of the offensive explosion as TJ added eight more runs in a wild 14-7 first round win.

“Jaxson Szarmach had a huge day at the plate, and that safety squeeze that he placed perfectly to earn a hit, was a big moment in the game,” Vickers said. “McClain (Flinn), Angelo (Volomino) and Lance (Vickers) also had big days with timely hits and RBIs that propelled the comeback.”

The senior Flinn was a big story in the game with his work on the mound as well, allowing one run in 5 1/3 innings of relief.

“We haven’t had to go to him as much as we expected this year,” Vickers said. “McClain has been a competitor for us since he was a freshman. When I handed him the ball on Tuesday, we both knew there was no turning back. He flat out competed, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

It was a completely different game Thursday in a quarterfinals battle between bracket busters No. 12 TJ and No. 13 Chartiers Valley. Offense was hard to come by thanks to some outstanding pitching on both sides with the Jaguars’ Brady Haberman getting the better of the Colts’ Brenden Cruz.

“Brady, like McClain, just competed,” Vickers said. “The 1-2-3 double play in the first inning got him out of a huge jam. From that point forward, he hit his spots, changed speeds and arm slots and proceeded to do what he has done all year as the leader of our pitching staff.”

While Haberman held Chartiers Valley to three hits, Thomas Jefferson only had two. One of them was a Wyatt Janosko pinch-hit home run in the fifth inning.

Vickers likes the grit of his team as it has earned a berth in the PIAA state playoffs while focusing on the Class 5A final-four contest Monday.

“I would like to think they’ve been battle tested over the 21 games they’ve played. From when they beat Central Catholic in Myrtle to when they had to just find an unselfish way to get out of the Latrobe game, I think they know they can play any game they need to play. Yes, the bats aren’t always going to score a ton against quality pitchers, but these guys have kept grinding as a team and I’m so proud of the gritty family they’ve become.”

The black and gold family faces a familiar foe in the semifinals when it plays Peters Township. The Indians beat the Jaguars twice this season and outscored them 21-3 in the two section games.

“Peters is the top dog. They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason, and it is well deserved,” Vickers said. “We all know about the lineup. They flat out rake, and our pitching staff with have its work cut out for them. The pitching staff also is impressive. Miller and Farris have been great all year, and Parker has been a closer when they need him. We respect those guys and can’t wait to compete against them for a chance to move onto the title game.”

2022 Trib HSSN Baseball Teams of the Week:

Week 6 – West Allegheny Indians

Week 5 – Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils

Week 4 – Shenango Wildcats

Week 3 – Hopewell Vikings

Week 2 – Chartiers Valley Colts

Week 1 – Beaver Bobcats

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