Uniontown qualifies for WPIAL postseason for 1st time since 2002
TribLIVE Sports Videos
With the regular season nearing an end, the Uniontown baseball team is heading into unfamiliar territory, but it only seems fitting.
The Red Raiders (8-9, 7-5) qualified for the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2002, securing a place in the top three of Section 2-AAA before dropping a pair of games Tuesday to Indiana and Laurel Highlands, the other playoff teams from the section.
But an unforseen setback to start the year almost put that goal out of reach.
Uniontown was forced off its home field for the first half of the season after a broken sewage pipe left it unsuitable for play.
“It was difficult,” senior Luke Wallace said. “Traveling every day wasn't the worst part, but we didn't have the facilities to practice on. We really didn't get the swings and didn't get to see the ball on an actual field.”
Being displaced eventually took its toll and saw Uniontown go through an especially rough patch in the middle of April, scoring just five runs in three consecutive section losses to Indiana, Laurel Highlands and Yough.
“We hit that wall that one week,” coach Ken Musko said. “It was hard to keep them motivated at times.”
Despite the frustrations the team faced, Musko saw the opportunity his team had to do something special in his second year as coach.
“I kind of just broke it down to them saying, ‘This is the year. You've got to get it now,' ” Musko said. “There was an attitude slump that we just had to break out of.”
Fox, Wallace and fellow senior Zack Stashick make up the middle of the batting order, and have essentially defined the offense this season. Fox doubled twice and Stashick tripled in a 3-1 win over Mt. Pleasant that snapped the mid-season losing streak. Musko told his star hitters afterward that the game was a prime example of what happens when they hit the ball well.
“We do feel the pressure a little bit,” Wallace said, “but that's what seniors are supposed to do. We step up when we need a big hit.”
That win was the first in a string of five straight that catapulted Uniontown back into a playoff spot for good.
“It seemed like we all started firing on all cylinders,” Fox said. “I think Coach Musko telling us that was kind of the key thing, just that little minute thing that really made a difference to open up my eyes.”
For most teams, ending a 12-year playoff drought could bring a lot of pressure onto the players.
But this team is just happy to have a field to play on.
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
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.