ShareThis Page

South Allegheny baseball looks to change losing trend

| Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 1:21 a.m.

After six consecutive losing seasons with the last two being four-win, last-place finishes, South Allegheny baseball coach Mark Suckfiel isn't into promising anything — especially when it comes to competing for a playoff spot.

“I don't want to say that,” Suckfiel said about possibly making a run at the third and final postseason bid out of Section 4-AA.

But don't be surprised if South Allegheny doesn't make a claim at its first postseason appearance in seven seasons, especially if the first couple weeks of the season are an indication.

Sure, the Gladiators are off to a 1-3 start, but it's an impressive 1-3 start.

South Allegheny upset Class AAA Carrick in the season opener, played Quad-A Albert Gallatin and Brentwood tough before taking an 8-0 lead over Greensburg Central Catholic in the section opener.

SA ended up losing to GCC, 12-10, but it showed to the veteran Suckfiel that his team is close to being able to compete with the best of them.

“That win against Carrick was a phenomenal win for us,” Suckfiel said. “I believe we are on the cusp here, I really do. I believe that we are going to be very competitive this year.”

Being competitive is something South Allegheny hasn't been very often since its first-round playoff loss to Riverside in 2007.

Since then, South Allegheny has six straight 10-loss seasons and an overall 27-75 record.

“We have been competitive but we haven't been able to return to that success and get over the hump,” Suckfiel said. “It seems like we are always one or two guys short.”

Suckfiel likes what he sees from his team not only during the first two weeks, but their commitment during the offseason as well.

“Over the past couple of years, we have seen a great amount of growth within our players,” Suckfiel said. “The kids are buying into it our system and everything we are trying to accomplish. We have a great bunch of kids this year and for the foreseeable future.”

When Suckfiel talks about the future, he's talking about Stefano Faiello. The freshman is the leadoff hitter for the Gladiators and even though he plays mostly second base, Suckfiel believes that Faiello is his shortstop of the future and will work him in at that position.

“He is really a nice little player being a freshman,” Suckfiel said. “It is nice to have a young kid step up like that.”

Suckfiel, however, will lean on seniors Tyler Ellwood (left field), Derek Vargo (shortstop/pitcher) and Nic Immekus (third base) for leadership.

Rounding out the starting lineup are juniors Brandon Ruffing (first base), Zach Young (designated hitter), Dylan Papson (center field) and Brad Figola (second base/shortstop), along with sophomore Nate Stetz (right field).

The pitching staff consists of Ruffing, Immekus, Stetz and Vargo, along with “innings eaters” Evan Tutko and Jake Duval.

Even with the upside of the team, Suckfiel won't allow himself to look past the here and now.

“My old coach (Joe Ranalli) told me that there are three parts to every season: The first half, the second half and the playoffs,” Suckfiel said. “I am seeing some good things in the first half and hopefully we can continue that. The second half, I hope we can learn to win and continue and hopefully get into the playoffs.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.