Hoops rivals are diamond all-star teammates
The last time Kiski Area's Ryan Sciullo and Plum's Nick Stotler played in the same game, it was during the WPIAL basketball playoffs and a heated first-round matchup came down to a pivotal play that involved both players.
Coaches and players agreed Sciullo's “flop” after he was bumped by Stotler late in the game turned the tide for Kiski Area on the way to a 50-40 win.
Neither player flopped during this past baseball season. Both shined for their teams. And they've moved past their hoops encounter to become teammates in Sunday's WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game.
They'll play for the Class AAAA team against Class AAA at 4 p.m. at Butler's Kelly Automotive Park. The Class AA all-stars face Class A at 1 p.m.
Sciullo and Stotler are two of 13 Alle-Kiski Valley players selected to play in the games.
Kiski Area and Plum were supposed to play a non-section baseball game, but it was canceled because of rain.
“We left it on the court,” Sciullo said of the basketball run-in with Stotler. “We've been playing against each other since Little League. It doesn't seem like anything now.
“You want to enjoy the experience (of an all-star game) but you also want to show that you deserve to be an all-star.”
Sciullo, an outfielder, led Kiski Area with a .433 batting average and 20 runs scored. He has committed to play at Washington & Jefferson.
Stotler will play at Coker College (S.C.).
“I think we got over all of that,” Stotler said of the hoops situation. “I mean, it's tough to get over because we lost. But hey, he was smarter than me at that moment.
“This game is one of those things where you want to have fun, but if you do well it's a plus.”
Stotler, who hit .333 with 12 RBIs, was selected as a second baseman, but saw time at just about every position but that one for Plum. He's played first base, third base and outfield.
“I haven't played second since my sophomore year,” Stotler said with a laugh.
Blackhawk star pitcher Brendan McKay, who has become the talk of the WPIAL this season, is scheduled to play for the Class AAA team. Sciullo and Stotler embrace the chance to face the fire-balling left-hander.
“I faced him once before, in an East Coast showcase,” Stotler said. “I grounded out to second. He's tough.”
It will be a “double-play” for four other local teams, all of which have a pair of representatives in the games.
Knoch has Caleb Thorn and Zach Junk on the Class AAA team, while Deer Lakes' Matt Olesnevich and Todd Coleman, along with Freeport's Noah Shannon and Matt Swartz are on Class AA.
Class A has Riverview's Jason Anthony and Dom Conte, and St. Joseph's Joey Luciana and Sam Thimons.
Springdale's Alex Demonte also is on the Class A roster.
“I just want to enjoy the moment of playing one last high school game with a friend that I've been competing with my whole life,” Coleman said.
Anthony looks forward to one last game with Conte.
“I've known Dom since elementary school and we've been playing together since then, so it's pretty cool we get to end our high school careers together,” he said.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.