With a new head coach, Knoch baseball has high aspirations

Friday, March 26, 2021 | 7:30 PM

In his three years at the helm of the Vincentian Academy baseball team, Bradley Bestic put together a successful run.

In his first season in 2018, Vincentian Academy went 20-4 and won WPIAL and PIAA titles. A year later, the Royals finished third in the WPIAL and earned another berth into the PIAA tournament.

He tallied an overall record of 35-9, and now he’s looking to bring that same success to Knoch.

After Vincentian Academy closed at the end of last school year, Bestic was hired at Knoch. He already feels like he’s been a Knight for years.

“It’s been very different heading to Knoch from a private school such as Vincentian Academy, but, to be honest, the people at Knoch have been so accommodating and welcoming, I already feel like I’ve been there for years,” Bestic said. “The guys are great, the administration, the community, the family. I really can’t ask for anything more. They’ve been wonderful, and I’m excited for these guys to have the opportunity to play some ball again after a rough 2020.”

Before taking over at Vincentian Academy, Bestic was an assistant in the program for five years, so when he eventually became head coach, it was a seamless transition. He knew his players, their personalities, where they liked to play and where they felt comfortable.

Taking over at Knoch, Bestic said his first goal is getting to know the players.

“With high schoolers, they keep their guard up for the most part and rightfully so,” Bestic said. “So what I’m trying to do is get to know them and their game and maybe show them why I had success, obviously at a lesser classification. But I think a lot of those principles, the game of baseball isn’t very different from (Class) 1A to 4A. I’m just trying to get those guys to trust in me and what’s kind of worked for me and my staff. So far, so good.”

Two years ago, the Knights finished with a 10-8 record and lost to eventual WPIAL runner-up Blackhawk in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs. Heading into this season, the Knights will have four returning starters from two years ago who could contribute heavily this year.

Junior catcher Eli Sutton will be the offensive catalyst for the Knights, and senior right-handers Gavin Phillips and Blaze Voltz will see time on the mound and in the infield. Junior Isaac Roddy will provide the Knights with speed in the outfield and at the top of the lineup.

“We’re really excited about their games in addition with some of these younger guys that are getting opportunities this year,” Bestic said.

Along with Phillips and Voltz, senior Brayden Hageter and junior Luke DiSanti could pitch this season.

The Knights will have plenty of juniors and seniors on the roster as they fill 13 of the 14 roster spots, but Bestic is excited about one underclassman. Brady Wozniak will play both in the infield and the outfield.

“We’re really excited about the potential of his game and what he’s going to do for us,” Bestic said. “Not only this year but for years to come. I’d say keep an eye out for him. I think he’s going to be special.”

With the winning history of their new head coach and the talent the Knights possess, they are setting their sights high this season.

“I think we have a confident bunch, and we are really just going to take it one game at a time,” Bestic said. “We are not going to try and do anything we aren’t capable of, but we’re just going to approach it as ‘Let’s beat the opponent we are playing,’ and, obviously, we want to set the highest possible goals for the team because why not?”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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