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Young GCC baseball team has high expectations

| Thursday, April 17, 2014, 4:29 p.m.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune Review.
Greensburg Central Catholic's Scott Riley collides with Steel Valley first baseman Mike Hoesch, who was attempting to catch a fly ball on April 10, 2014 at Steel Valley.

The Greensburg Central Catholic baseball team ended last season with a 13-6 record, finishing a game behind Steel Valley for the Section 4-AA crown before advancing to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

But after losing seven players to graduation, the Centurions feature a different team in 2014.

Yet, second-year head coach Anthony Manley said his level of expectation for this group has not changed.

“There's inexperience, but there's guys that can step in and get the job done,” Manley said.

“You always have that goal to win your section and last year we came up a little bit short. …We're a completely different ball team than we were last year. We graduated a lot of seniors, so we are young but the bar is still raised and we still expect to win the section.”

With two seniors on this year's team, Greensburg Central Catholic is led by team captain Eddie Kilkeary (center field) and first baseman Tony Pacelli. Junior pitcher/middle infielder Collin Liberatore also is a returning starter but will miss the next few weeks with a fractured thumb, meaning Kilkeary will be called upon to shoulder even more of a burden in his third season as a starter.

“I feel a load on my shoulders, but it's easy,” Kilkeary said. “They're a great group of kids, they're so easy to get along with and they're open to learn which I think is really important. They're great baseball players, but they're all open to get better.”

The Centurions will lean on young players such as pitchers Sam Nowicki (sophomore) and Neal McDermott (freshman) to complement junior Cole Reese in Liberatore's absence. Reese pitched six innings, allowing just one run in a 8-1 win over Greensburg Salem on Sunday to improve Greensburg Central Catholic's record to 3-2 overall.

At the plate, the Centurions will look for contributions from a group of five sophomores — middle infielder Tommy Pellis, outfielder JP Pellis, first baseman Jack Kilkeary, outfielder Scott Riley and catcher Zach Skatell.

Tommy Pellis has been locked in at the plate early in the season, batting .294 with five RBIs, while Nowicki also has chipped in with four RBIs.

They're using last year as motivation as this season goes on.

“It's definitely motivation for us going forward, just falling short,” Kilkeary said.

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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