Westmoreland baseball notebook: Latrobe keeps tradition going with opening game

Thursday, March 30, 2023 | 6:39 PM

The Ohio trip has become a tradition at Latrobe. And if the Wildcats don’t make the trek to Upper Arlington to play the Golden Bears to christen a new baseball season, then the Golden Bears come to them.

Upper Arlington is coached by Latrobe alum Nate Phillips.

The initial thought was for the teams to alternate years on each others’ fields. But Latrobe enjoys the four-hour trip and the amenities at Upper Arlington so much, they keep going back.

Upper Arlington is about seven miles north of Columbus.

“It’s a good time. The kids really look forward to it,” Latrobe coach Matt Basciano said. “They enjoy the bus ride out, we stay in a hotel out there, and we get to play good baseball.”

The Wildcats only played one game, but their season opener was a nail-biter. They fell 4-3 to Upper Arlington in 10 innings.

“We were going to play again, but a storm popped up and wipe out the other game,” Basciano said. “We were able to tour the facilities at Ohio State, so they kids had fun with that.

“It’s a nice bonding experience. We have four sophomores so they got to go for the first time.”

Cole healing

Hempfield senior Nate Cole, a pitcher and first baseman for the Spartans, is recovering after he took a line drive to the face at the end of Monday’s practice.

Cole was taken by ambulance to Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, where he was treated and released that night.

He attended the Spartans’ game Tuesday.

“It was very uplifting for our guys to see he is in the recovery process,” Hempfield coach Tim Buzzard said. “He is improving every day. It was a very scary situation for our team and something you never want to see happen to one of your players. Nate is a great kid and has the support of all his teammates and coaches as he recovers.”

Sierocky fans 17

Ligonier Valley senior pitcher Haden Sierocky was as surprised as anyone when he took the mound for the Rams’ season opener Monday at home against Greensburg Central Catholic.

With little expectation other than making a quality start, the left-hander struck out a career-high 17 and allowed one hit in a 6-0 victory.

“He was mowing us down,” GCC pitcher Ethan Brody said.

Sierocky, who has been clocked at 80 mph on the radar gun, threw just 93 pitches.

“In all my years of baseball, that was the most impressive opener I have ever seen,” Ligonier Valley coach Jason Bush said. “He was unbelievable.”

Sierocky said he was not keeping track of the strikeouts as each inning turned over.

“I was blown away,” he said. “I was not expecting that.”

Sierocky also had three hits, including a double.

Kallock out

Greensburg Central Catholic’s Max Kallock, the strong-armed senior who is committed to IUP, has not played a game this season as he waits for a back injury to heal.

Kallock, a shortstop and outfielder who was projected to be a closer this season, injured his back during offseason training.

He is undergoing steroid injections and physical therapy to make a return.

“Max does so much. He’s a big loss for our team,” GCC coach John Boyle said. “He is such a big bat. It’s the Mike Tomlin next-man-up for us. Our guys have to rise to the challenge defensively.”

Kallock hit .550 last season with seven doubles, two triples, a home run, and 23 RBIs as GCC made the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals.

Kallock, who had elbow surgery to fix an ulnar collateral ligament tear two years ago, has only played one full season of high school baseball.

Fresh start

Yough won its first two games under new coach Dan Palm.

The Cougars bolted past Brownsville, 12-1, behind strong offense, and a strong pitcher.

Nate Bell did not allow an earned run in five innings, struck out six and scattered four hits for his first win.

Bell is a freshman.

Wessel commits

Belle Vernon senior Jake Wessel announced he will play his college baseball at Penn State Behrend.

Wessel is a catcher who has also played in the outfield.

He is more than a baseball player: He also is a drum major and swims for the Leopards.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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