Breakthrough season wins share of section title for Pine-Richland baseball


Sunday, May 8, 2022 | 11:01 a.m.

Ahead of a high-stakes game against North Allegheny on May 4, Pine-Richland baseball coach Kurt Wolfe told his team there would be a playoff-like feel.

For starters, part of the Division Championship was on the line. Add to that a raucous fan appreciation day crowd at Pine-Richland and the stage was set for an intense afternoon of baseball even before the first pitch. is launched.

Once the players entered between the lines, the game reflected the atmosphere.

Great pitching and defense from both sides led to extra innings, and with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, Tommy Zimmerman singled to carry the Rams to a 1-0 victory.

North Allegheny won Game 2 of the series 8-4 on May 5 to claim a share of the division title, but that didn’t spoil the Rams’ accomplishment.

They completed a turnaround by missing the playoffs in 2021 to co-section champions in one season.

“We’re going to take advantage of that,” Wolfe said. “I told the boys we were a dangerous team because we have 22 guys who believe in each other. It’s a special group. I am proud of them and happy for them. They deserve all the accolades. »

The Rams needed contributions from a multitude of players to claim victory.

Senior pitcher Andy Swartout, who didn’t see much action last year due to injury, pitched all eight innings and allowed just three hits, struck out four and one on bullets.

“I’m not the kind of pitcher that’s going to go on the mound and blow the heat out of guys, but I go out there and compete,” Swartout said. “I work hard with my boys. They have my back and I have theirs. They made a few plays behind me and I executed the shots well. I am proud of the work we have done.

There were several big defensive plays, but none were bigger than Peyton Ford’s in right field in the sixth inning.

With a runner on and one out, North Allegheny’s Harron Lee snatched a fly ball that looked tagged for the right-center spread, but Ford was able to follow the ball and make a running catch. Ford then returned the ball to the infield to double Cole Young at first base and end the inning.

“It changed the whole complexion of the game,” Wolfe said. “Peyton has done it all year for us, not only defensively, but also finding ways to get on the base to turn the lineup around. It doesn’t surprise me that he was able to make a catch like that and make a one-on-one to throw it to first base for the double play.”

Before Zimmerman’s hit, Owen Henne and Joey Perry worked back-to-back walks and Anthony Mengine landed a perfect bunt in front of the pitcher’s mound on the third base side to record a field single. It was his second well-placed bunt of the day.

Perry had two hits and reached base all four times.

Each of these hitters is an underclass.

“We played our type of game,” Wolfe said. “A low-scoring, grinding game. That’s what happened and that’s what we wanted. This is the formula for us.

Pine-Richland’s seven wins in Section 1-6A have come by three runs or less. They held their opponents to three points or less in four of them.

The Rams will look to maintain this formula once the playoffs arrive.

“We just have to keep our competitive edge,” Swartout said. “We’re not a team like North Allegheny that can home runs anywhere. We are a younger team, but when we play we stay focused. We play for each other. This is what made our success. At the start of this year, we were ranked 11th out of 12 Class 6A teams. Many people doubted us, but now we are looking to do damage.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

Tags: Pine-Richland