Vincentian Academy chasing 2nd PIAA baseball title in 3 seasons

Thursday, June 14, 2018 | 11:48 AM

Brad Bestic all but shrugged when reminded of the 10:30 a.m. first pitch for Vincentian's appearance in the PIAA Class A baseball finals Friday.

Baseball for breakfast?

“Hey, so what? We'll be ready,” said Bestic, a 2007 Vincentian graduate now in his first season as coach. “The guys respond well to quick turnarounds, and we'll be good to go.”

At this point, Vincentian (19-4) is responding well to virtually any situation. After winning their first WPIAL championship late last month, the Royals can convert the ultimate double play if they beat District 5 runner-up Southern Fulton in Friday's state title game at Penn State's Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

A win Friday would give Vincentian its second state championship in three seasons, as the Royals beat Meyersdale in their first visit to State College in 2016.

“It's unbelievable,” Bestic said. “I'm so happy for these guys, the parents, alumni, administration, everyone. Being an alum myself and playing at Vincentian, we never had teams like this. Being able to get back to Penn State, that's not something you can take for granted — and we certainly are not.”

What Vincentian is doing instead is running roughshod over its opponents in the postseason. Monday's 11-0 victory over Greensburg Central Catholic in the PIAA semifinals marked the Royals' third consecutive five-inning, mercy-rule victory since the state tournament began last week. Bring their three WPIAL playoff games into the equation, and the Royals hold a 50-1 scoring margin in six postseason games.

“We always want to try to get on early and just get baserunners on and let (the opponent) make mistakes or make plays,” said senior Mark Yakim, who had three hits in the semifinal win. “We're hitting the ball in the gaps, so they're going to have to find different ways to get us out.”

The Royals are flush with heavy hitters, led by UConn recruit Kyler Fedko, currently batting .649 with 14 doubles, four triples, eight homers and 39 RBIs. But it goes beyond Fedko, as Vincentian bats .388 as a team; all nine starters reached base against GCC.

The hitting also can obscure Vincentian's dominant pitching staff, headed by seniors Stephen Turzai (8-0, 1.04 ERA) and Aidan Thomson (3-2, 1.91). Thomson pitched shutouts against Jamestown in the first round and GCC in the semifinals, while Turzai blanked Oswayo Valley in the quarterfinals.

“We feel we can throw anyone on our roster out on the mound and they just have confidence,” Bestic said. “It stems from our pitching coach, Alex Valadja. He does an excellent job. I think he's the best in the WPIAL. We can throw any of our seven guys out there and have nothing but confidence.”

Southern Fulton is coming off its own 11-0 blowout in the semifinals, over District 4 champion Sayre. Vincentian hopes the confidence that's carried the team so far will show up again bright and early Friday morning.

“I want to win another championship,” Yakim said. “These kids, everyone's been hitting the ball well, and everyone's hot at the same time, so it's a good time.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.


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