Westmoreland high school baseball notebook: Jeannette players learning while taking their lumps

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Thursday, April 15, 2021 | 6:36 PM


It has been one wild ride this season for Jeannette baseball, which is enduring a down year but taking it in stride.

The young Jayhawks’ schedule has been some feast and a lot of famine since the opening pitch, with every game seeing at least one team score 15 or more runs.

None has made it past the fifth inning.

Jeannette lost to Washington, 19-4; Ligonier Valley, 16-0; and Shady Side Academy, 15-0 and 15-3.

Then it turned around and beat Sto-Rox, 24-0. In the win, the Jayhawks had only five hits but walked 19 times and had five hit batsmen.

“We have four or five freshmen on the field, so they are learning and we’re taking our lumps,” coach Marcus Clarkson said. “But they are really good kids, so it’s going better than expected.”

Clarkson said he has relied on the leadership of senior Emilio Huerta and junior Tyler Horn to guide the freshmen.

No ‘wow’ factor

With the No. 1 ranking in the WPIAL — the No. 5 mark in the state in Class 6A — and enough college-level talent to beat the band, Norwin has earned the right to walk around with bravado.

But its play on the field, coach Mike Liebdzinski said, needs to catch up to the expectations.

Norwin (5-1) isn’t running roughshod over everyone as some expected, which could be a combination of the rigors of good baseball in 6A and the Knights not fully maximizing their potential.

“We’re doing a lot of good things but nothing that is overly impressive,” Liebdzinski said. “The talent and ability is there, but I think we have been mostly average in a lot of areas. Nothing would make you say, ‘wow.’ ”

Still, while the coaches aren’t oohing and aahing from the dugout, the Knights are winning. After an 11-2 victory at Penn-Trafford, the bats were beginning to come alive.

A deep pitching rotation is expected to be a strength, and it certainly has had its moments.

Junior Noah Czajkowski, senior Luke Savage and senior Brady Kukich combined to no-hit Penn-Trafford.

Senior Jake Bazala did not allow a hit in a 10-0, five-inning win over Baldwin.

“The hitting is starting to catch up to the pitching and defense,” said senior Eric Chorba, who launched a three-run home run against Penn-Trafford. “To be successful, we need to start stringing hits together.”

Pulling rank

Four Westmoreland teams held spots in the Trib rankings at the beginning of the week: Norwin (No. 1 in 6A), Franklin Regional (No. 2 in 5A), Belle Vernon (No. 3 in 4A) and Greensburg Central Catholic (No. 3 in A).

Extra bases

Hempfield senior pitcher Phil Fox struck out 14 in a 5-2 win over Baldwin. He allowed three hits. The Spartans followed that with a 14-4 win over the Highlanders to move into first place in Section 1-6A, a half-game ahead of top-ranked Norwin. … Penn-Trafford has two walk-off wins at home this season. Sophomore Peyton Bigler delivered the winning RBI on Tuesday in a 3-2 victory over Gateway in 12 innings. … Franklin Regional is the only undefeated team in 5A.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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