Trib HSSN Baseball Team of the Week: Union
By: Don Rebel
Sunday, April 21, 2019 | 9:15 PM
The Trib HSSN Team of the Week, Union, earned two section wins last week to increase its winning streak and hold on first place.
After losing two of its first three games, Union has rolled to seven straight wins, including 6-0 in Section 1-A.
“The first part of the season, we got off to a slow start with the basketball team making another run in the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs,” Union coach Bill Sanders said. “Twelve of the 20 on my roster are on that basketball team as well, so we have a lot of big-game experience with the success of basketball and baseball over past few seasons.”
Last year Union reached the WPIAL championship game in both sports, losing to Vincentian Academy each time.
Last week, the Scotties did not allow a run as they moved into first place by themselves at the midway point of section play.
In a 5-0 win at Cornell on Tuesday, Rob King threw a shutout.
“They threw a pitcher who had a good fastball and mixed speeds,” Sanders said. “He kept us off-balance at times, but our philosophy is to get guys on and cause havoc with our speed.”
Two days later in an 18-0 rout of Aliquippa, Jake Vitale, Tyler Staub and Brayden Porter combined for a perfect game, and Nate Meeks, Porter and Staub supplied the offensive power.
Union has plated double-digit runs in four of its first 10 games. Meeks, Seth Pinkerton, Tyler Benedict, Porter and Sean Louis are hitting over .450.
While the runs have come in bunches, Sanders said opposing teams have struggled against the trio of Vitale, King and Cam Brown.
“Our three starters have all been really good this year in the pitching department,” Sanders said. “We all know when it comes to making a run, pitching is key. I’d put these three in any game and know they will go out and compete.”
Union begins the second half of section play Tuesday at home against Bishop Canevin. Sanders said there are many reasons for the Scotties’ recent success.
“The key to the win streak has been playing together. We preach team and family and treating one another like family. Hitting and defense have improved all year once we started getting reps on the field with this crazy weather, and the pitching has been consistent from the start.
“My coaching staff is great, too, and put in a ton of hours to make sure we are preparing for each game. They are all Union alumni except for one we added this year who is from another successful program, Neshannock.”
Sanders realizes the second time around against the other six teams in Section 1-A will be a challenge.
“I think the section is a lot better top to bottom this year, and anyone can get beat on a given day. There are some really good players in this section. I think we are battle-tested, which helped us in adjusting to the teams we are seeing this year after having battles with the top teams in our section last year and also teams we have faced in the playoffs.”
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.