Share This Page

Monessen trying to get over playoff hump

| Thursday, March 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Monessen Pa. -Charleroi's #22 Seth Nangle is out a home after running into Monessen's Catcher #9 Tyler Shash at Monessen High school Ference,Jim MV|32712

In his first 10 seasons as Monessen baseball coach, Bill Matush has not been able to take his team to the WPIAL playoffs.

In fact, it's been over 20 years since Monessen last played a baseball playoff game.

Oh, the Greyhounds have gotten closer in recent years, missing the postseason two times by one game, including last season.

“We've been close. We just haven't been able to break through,” Matush said. “This year, I'm hoping we can. I think we can.”

The Greyhounds certainly don't have the recipe for success in that they only return three full-time starters from last year's 8-10 squad. And there are only two seniors on this year's team - Pete Tarka and Justin Woodard - and Matush was quick to note that neither played on last year's team.

Still, Matush is optimistic, if not confident.

“I like our team, I really do,” he said. “We may only have a few returning starters, but some of the guys played a lot last year even though they didn't start.”

Monessen's infield has the majority of the returning experience with junior Jonathan Kravets at first (he started behind the plate last season) and sophomore Josh Kucmeroski returning at shortstop. At third base will be either junior Justice Rawlins, who started a year ago after he returned from knee surgery, or Tarka, who started at Geibel last season.

The catcher is junior Tyler Shash, who started part time behind the plate and in other positions.

The Greyhounds have zero experience in the outfield where newcomers Noah Rullo (sophomore) will be in left, Luke Doptis (junior) will be in center and Dom Zboyovsky (junior) will be in right.

“Our infield is pretty solid with some good players,” Matush said. “The outfield is all new and we're hoping those players come along as the season goes on.” Rawlins and Tarka will be the one-two starters on the mound for Monessen.

If Rawlins does anything the rest of the season like he did in his first start against Jefferson-Morgan Friday, he could open some eyes.

The righthander fired a two-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts as Monessen won, 2-0.

Also vying to pitch are Woodard, the only lefty, Kucmeroski and fellow soph Marcel Taylor.

Matush calls Taylor (6-2, 240) a project, saying, “He throws really hard. I've been working with him for about a month to get his control in place.”

Looking at the revamped Section 2 A, Matush says chances of anyone beating Bishop Canevin or Serra are slim. That leaves Frazier, Clairton, Geibel and the Greyhounds to fight for the third playoff spot.

“I really think we can get there if we get a couple breaks and we do the things we are supposed to,” Matush said. “We are solid in a lot of positions. Still, we have to play as a team. And, of course, pitching is always crucial.”

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or joliver@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.