Ford City's Retzer named Leader Times baseball player of the year
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
FORD CITY, SENIOR, PITCHER/SHORTSTOP
If proof was needed that wins aren't the best measure of a pitcher's performance, look no further than Ford City's Justin Retzer.
Retzer was the Sabers' ace on the mound and though his record was just 2-3, that hardly reflects the throwing of a pitcher with a sub-2.00 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 37 1⁄3 innings this season.
When he wasn't pitching, Retzer would move to shortstop and maintain his No. 3 spot in the Ford City lineup. He finished the year with a .533 batting average, 19 RBI and two home runs — all team bests — and his 15 runs scored was second for the Sabers.
For his all-around contributions to a winning season at Ford City, Retzer is the 2013 Leader Times Baseball Player of the Year.
“Personally, I'm really happy with the year I had, but with the team, it would've been really nice to make the playoffs,” Retzer said. “I hit my spots and had my best year pitching the ball.”
Retzer, who will pitch in college at West Liberty, got the call in almost all of Ford City's big games this season, and he nearly led the team to the WPIAL playoffs, which it missed on a tiebreaker with Burrell.
From a shutdown performance in the Sabers' section opener against Freeport — a 2-1 Ford City win — to hard-luck, 3-2 losses against Burrell and Deer Lakes, Retzer being on the hill meant Ford City had a shot to win. The senior embraced the role of the go-to starter and often had his best games against the toughest teams.
“When I pitched against Freeport and struck out 16 guys, that was one of the big highlights of my year,” Retzer said. “I love when I have the pressure in those big games. I feel like (my record) might have been much better if we got one or two more hits when we needed them. A lot of those games were close, but we didn't score enough runs.”
Retzer also had some big moments at the plate this season, including one of his two home runs coming at spacious Pullman Park in Butler. That and a sophomore-year grand slam against West Shamokin are two career highlights, Retzer said, but he was most pleased whenever he could make a play that helped the Sabers get a win.
“Hitting or pitching, they were both equal to me. I just wanted to do whatever I had to to help the team,” he said. “If I needed to strike someone out, or if I needed a big hit to get on base, I just liked helping the team win.”
Apollo-Ridge, Sr., C
A speedy player behind the plate, Baylor led the Vikings with a .382 average, 26 hits, 14 runs scored and seven stolen bases.
Ford City, So., 3B
Bower came into his own as a clean-up hitter this year with a .462 average, a .563 on-base percentage and 11 RBI.
Leechburg, Sr., IF/P
In a tough year for the Blue Devils, Dubovi led the way at the plate with a .424 average and eight RBI while also sharing pitching duties.
Kittanning, So., IF
Keibler's .385 average, .415 on-base percentage and nine RBI all led the Wildcats this season.
Karns City, Jr., P/SS
Kepple had a 2.85 ERA and went 7-1, with the only loss coming in the state playoffs against Beaver. He also had three homers, 15 RBI and 22 steals.
Freeport, Sr., IF/P
Miller's .543 average was best in the coverage area, and the all-around contributor also scored 15 runs and threw 22 1⁄3 innings, many in relief.
West Shamokin, Sr., P/SS
A .610 on-base percentage and a .500 batting average both led the Wolves, as did Rocco's 52 strikeouts in 29 2⁄3 innings pitched.
Freeport, Jr., C
Swartz caught a Freeport staff that had a team ERA of 2.85, while he had 16 RBI and drew a team-high 10 walks for a .561 on-base percentage.
Karns City, Jr., C
Weckerly led the Gremlins by batting .500, and he also had 17 RBI and 21 steals for the District 9-AA champs.
Blake Davis Kittanning, Sr., C
Nick Ganter Karns City, Sr., OF
Mitch Johnston Apollo-Ridge, Jr., OF/P
Dustin Koedel Freeport, Sr., OF
Dave Lattanzio Ford City, Sr., CF
Luke Mariotti Freeport, Sr., P/IF
Ashton McGinnis Ford City, Jr., P
Luke Negley Freeport, Sr., OF
Jared Ravotti Leechburg, Sr., CF