Olasz impresses scouts, leads West Mifflin to win
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It is one thing to walk to the mound and notice a college scout or two behind the backstop, but what West Mifflin's A.J. Olasz endured went way beyond that.
Sure, the 16-year-old junior lefty knew for a couple days that a handful of scouts would be in attendance at Monday's Section 4-AAA game against Elizabeth Forward, but he never imagined that it was going to be a scene right out of a clichéd baseball movie.
In unison and for five innings, scouts from Penn State, Michigan, Delaware, Ohio, Virginia Commonwealth, Kent State and Canisius pointed their radar guns at Olasz.
They had to like what they saw.
After a shaky first inning, Olasz settled down to retire 11 of 12 hitters while striking out seven in 52⁄3 innings as West Mifflin handed Elizabeth Forward its first loss of the season, 12-6.
“I was very nervous for him,” West Mifflin coach Jeff Kuzma said. “I thought about it all day. I saw him at lunch, and his buddies were trying to keep him relaxed. Let me tell you, that has to be tough for anybody let alone a junior who is 16 years old and you have that kind of pressure.”
Olasz's was consistently throwing 83-85 mph as he improved to 2-0. Olasz has 21 strikeouts in 14 innings and now has an ERA of 3.00.
“At first it is distracting (having the scouts there), but you have to zone it out,” Olasz said. “I have been there before and have struggled, but you just can't worry about it. I did OK, but I think I could've thrown a little more first-strike pitches.”
Olasz got plenty of help from his offense. Jim Carassanesi went 3-for-3 with a triple, double, RBI, three runs scored and three stolen bases while Olasz chipped in with a triple, single and three RBI. Zach Lapko added a double and two RBI.
Mark Adams took the loss for Elizabeth Forward (7-1, 1-1) as he allowed four hits and five earned runs over four innings. The Warriors got two hits from Ryan Thornton and Steve Welsh while Will Scott and Cary Lamkin knocked in a pair of runs, but it wasn't enough to upend one of its biggest rivals.
“I don't know if there is a great relationship between us, but that's OK; it's a rivalry game,” Elizabeth Forward coach Frank Champ said. “Bottom line is that we have to keep our composure, throw more strikes and make the routine play, and we didn't do that.”
The game couldn't have started better for the Warriors.
After a leadoff walk to Jake Terrick, Luke Padezan doubled to put runners at second and third. A pair of Olasz wild pitches later and EF was ahead, 2-0.
“Those two runs were on me,” Olasz said. “I knew my team would pick me up.”
Did they ever.
A pair of walks followed by a sacrifice put runners in scoring position for the Titans (6-2, 2-0) in the bottom of the first. Ryan Kandsberger singled in a run, Carassanesi doubled in another and Olasz two more with a triple.
“The answer,” Kuzma said. “It is a dagger in the heart when you give up runs early like that, but to respond like that is even bigger. To come back and score five there you just take all the pressure back off your pitcher.”
Champ echoed the same story.
“That was a big momentum switch right off the bat,” Champ said. “One thing that I preach is that you can't walk batters. You take the momentum that we had and hand it right back to them.”
The Titans added two unearned runs in the third and then put the game away with four in the fifth on the strength of run-scoring hits by Olasz, Lapko and Zach Fodor to make it 11-2.
“If we are firing on all cylinders, we are going to be tough to beat,” Kuzma said. “We can't have bad moments in the field and at the plate. If we don't we are can be tough.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib
Show commenting policy
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.