Penn-Trafford hurlers giving Warriors chance to compete
The Penn-Trafford baseball team's calling card this season is its potentially potent pitching staff, led by a pair of righthanders — senior Ross Orgera and junior Tyler Smith.
“We said going into the season that we will go as far as Ross and Smitty will take us,” Penn-Trafford coach Ron Evans said following Monday's 9-5 WPIAL Class AAAA victory over Latrobe.
Evans' enthusiasm for the team's 1-2 pitching punch was tempered Sunday, when Orgera sustained a separated left shoulder in an ATV accident and is expected to miss at least a week.
“We'll just find someone else to put in there while he's out,” Evans said.
Against Latrobe, Smith wasn't as sharp on the mound as he would have liked, but it was his two-run homer that ignited a continuation of Penn-Trafford's unexpected offensive surge.
Now, if the Warriors' defense can pull together, Evans might find a solid situation forming.
“The kids know that when Ross or Tyler are on the mound, if we score some runs, we have a very good chance to win the game,” Evans said. “We should be able to compete with anyone with those two.”
The Penn-Trafford (4-4, 3-2 in Section 2) defense has been shoddy at times, leading to one-run losses to Hempfield and Connellsville after leading both games for much of the way.
“We were one out from winning both games and starting the season 4-0,” Evans said.
Hempfield, an early favorite to contend for the Section 2 title, beat Penn-Trafford, 7-6, taking advantage of errors by the Warriors' defense.
“They are very good,” Hempfield coach Tim Buzzard said. “They're the best team we've seen so far. They mixed their pitches well.”
Penn-Trafford's lineup at times does not include a senior starter, yet the Warriors are learning to win. It's no surprise to Smith or any of his teammates. A handful of the players have experience in summer leagues as part of AAU and American Legion teams.
“High school-wise, we're a very young team,” Smith said. “For the most part, though, we're all extremely experienced. There are 3-4 kids who've been playing above their age group for a number of years now.”
Smith said it's comfort knowing the team is learning to hit with authority.
After the Latrobe victory, he said: “If we continue to swing the bats like we did today and if we can get solid pitching, we'll definitely contend for the section, and our chances of making the playoffs would be real good.”
Sophomore catcher Scott Koscho had two hits, including a double, that produced three runs. Sophomore infielder Shane Churma was leading the team in hitting with a .429 average.
Perhaps the biggest example of youthful hitting for Penn-Trafford came when freshman outfielder Josh Brammell, making just his second start, hit a two-run homer.
“We're inexperienced, and we've made some inexperienced mistakes,” Evans said. “Yet the kids realize already that we were able to play with Hempfield, and if that's the case, we should be able to play with anyone.”
It seems to have convinced Evans, too.
“I honestly believe we have the potential to battle for that first or second spot in the section. It's a big task.”
Meanwhile, with Orgera sidelined, Evans is looking to the rest of the pitching staff for support.
There is a promising bunch to choose from, led by seniors Danny Owoc and Zak Right. Owoc entered the lineup against Latrobe in relief with the bases loaded and nobody out and did not allow a run.
“Strikeout, popup, groundout,” Evans said. “He came in and did the job.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.