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Shady Side Academy baseball opens in Florida; sets sights on continued success

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Shady Side Academy baseball team got its season started at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at the Disney Sports Complex in Florida last week as they went 2-1.

The Indians earned a pair of wins over Charlotte Country Day and lost to Elizabeth Forward.

Picking up wins against Charlotte were seniors Paul McCullough and Coleman Strom. Senior Eric Larkin earned a save in relief of Strom. Junior Jake Kleindl pitched well but took the loss against Elizabeth Forward.

“We have some very nice pitching depth this year because of those four and also seniors Evan Eisner and Harrison Gottlieb,” SSA coach Bob Grandizio Jr. said. “We also have some strong sophomores and juniors.”

The Indians will be in the same section as in recent past seasons this year, but it will have a different look. Riverview and Brentwood moved to other sections while two teams that were in WPIAL Class AAA last year — East Allegheny and Southmoreland — will take their place.

“The section should be stronger this year,” Grandizio said. “Greensburg Central Catholic and Steel Valley are always playoff contenders, so we expect that they, along with the two new teams, will be challenging us for the section title.”

The Indians went 17-4 last year and lost in the semifinals of the WPIAL AA playoffs to eventual WPIAL and PIAA champion Riverside.

They also lost in the first round of the PIAA tournament.

One key loss from that squad was pitcher/first baseman Ben Hartz.

Hartz was the WPIAL Class AA pitcher of the year last season and is now playing at Buffalo University, an NCAA Division I school.

Three other starters — Andrew Geisler, Mike Holzinger and Matt Scherbarth — also graduated.

“We will have to work to fill these holes, but we have many options and a lot of depth in the program with 40 players on our varsity and JV teams,” Grandizio said.

Returning starters are Jake Kleindl (junior, pitcher and catcher), Eric Larkin (senior, first baseman and pitcher), Coleman Strohm (senior, first baseman and pitcher), Paul McCullough (senior, pitcher and shortstop) Evan Eisner (senior, outfielder and pitcher) and Chuckie Scales (junior, outfielder and shortstop).

Seniors Brian Hannon (outfielder), Chris Sawicki (second baseman) and junior Chuck Calabrese (outfielder) will round out the starting lineup.

Senior Parker Bennett and junior Cam Dively will handle the catching duties when Kleindl is pitching.

“We are still working to see who our third basemen will be and there is currently a competition between junior Morgan Dively and sophomores Alex Hartz and Chris Santucci,” Grandizio said.

Sophomores Tim Granato (outfielder), Andrew Scherbarth (pitcher and first baseman) and Tyler Demchak (outfielder) will also start the season on the varsity roster.

“We are very excited about our prospects for this year and we have a great group of leaders in our senior and junior classes,” Grandizio said. “Hitting and pitching will be a strength for us and I think our defense is improved from last year.

“We're looking for another good season.”

Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or mstewart@tribweb.com.

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