Quaker Valley catcher Utterback to cap busy summer at Keystone State Games
While some teenagers might be relaxing next to a pool, Ben Utterback is spending the dog days of summer on the diamond.
After playing the extended Quaker Valley high school season that ended in the PIAA playoffs, the rising senior competed for both the Quaker Valley Colt and Palomino teams as well as for Bucs Baseball in Beaver County.
“It is pretty much what I do all summer,” Utterback said. “It is definitely my favorite sport. All the teams have been very successful and have been a great experience.”
Utterback added an additional team to his resume as he was selected for the 2013 Keystone State Games West Scholastic squad.
Nearly 100 players tried out for the team with the top 20 players making the cut.
The scholastic squad is designed for players entering 11th or 12th grade.
The West squad is competing in Harrisburg at the Keystone State Games this weekend, along with Blue Mountain, Capital, Delaware Valley, Lehigh Valley, Nittany Region, Metro and Pocono.
Brian Dzurenda — the head coach at Serra Catholic — is the West manager for the fifth straight year and said the squad could find success in Harrisburg. Dzurenda coached the West to a silver medal at the 2012 event after dropping a 3-2 extra-inning thriller to the Capital squad.
“We have 20 great kids committed to the team,” Dzurenda said. “It is probably the strongest team in my five years as coach. We have a nice chance to do something special.”
The roster also includes players from Belle Vernon, Bethel Park, California, Franklin Regional, Hempfield, Moon, New Brighton, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Plum, Rochester, Serra Catholic, Thomas Jefferson and Upper St. Clair.
“It is mostly of bunch of strangers,” Utterback said. “I have played against a couple of the guys but haven't seen most of them before. They must be really good though because they made the team.”
The team had several practices before the tournament got under way, which will be beneficial for Utterback. He is one the West's three catchers, and building a relationship with the other members of the team is key.
“It is very good to get a chemistry with the other players,” Utterback said. “Catcher is my preferred position. It keeps me involved in every play, which I like.”
In addition to playing the tournament, each team had a showcase on the first day of the event which was attended by both college coaches and MLB scouts.
“It is nice for kids on this side of that state to get noticed by a college coach on the eastern side,” Dzurenda said.
Pool play will start Thursday and run through the championship game Sunday.