Plum's Stotler enjoys WPIAL all-star experience
Nick Stotler's final high school baseball game didn't result in a victory, as the Quad-A team fell to the Class AAA stars, 4-3, Sunday during WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association all-star action in Butler.
But the recent Plum graduate said he had a ton of fun going to battle in a relaxed atmosphere with a number of other players he went up against the past three or four seasons.
“It was nice to be on the same side as a guy like (Alex) Pantuso from Baldwin who pitched against us twice this season and a great hitter like (J.J.) Matijevic (from Norwin),” said Stotler, who again will play this summer in the competitive Youngstown Class B league.
Despite some powerful hitters in both lineups, the Quad-A and AAA teams combined for just 10 hits.
“Both teams had some advanced pitchers throwing, and that reduced the offenses' effectiveness,” Stotler said.
“Using wooden bats also kept the hitting down. But there still were a couple of nice hits.”
Quad-A had four hits, and Stotler had one of them with a bloop hit in the eighth inning that fell into shallow left between the AAA third baseman, shortstop and left fielder.
“It kind of found the Bermuda Triangle out there,” Stotler said with a chuckle.
Stotler made it to second on the play and then stole third.
He came home on a passed ball to make the score 4-3.
The Quad-A stars took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth as Kiski Area's Ryan Sciullo smacked a triple to deep right field. North Allegheny's Mitch Machi and Penn-Trafford's Tyler Smith scored on the play.
The AAA stars grabbed the lead right back in the top of the seventh.
Belle Vernon's Dylan Pietrantoni drove in Keith Gannon of Mars and Uniontown's Zach Staschick with a single to give AAA the lead.
Later in the inning, South Fayette's Tyler Godwin was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring home Pietrantoni with what proved to be the margin of difference.
“It was fun to come out here and play with all these guys,” said Pietrantoni, who will play collegiately at St. Vincent College. “Everyone's a great player here and this was a fun kind of day.”
Pietrantoni was named the Player of the Game.
Knoch's Zach Junk recorded the save, inducing Matijevic, the WPIAL's triple crown winner, to ground out to second to end the game.
Rain showers were forecasted for the game, and rain covered the field for about 90 seconds during the action.
The teams played through the rain, and, Stotler said, it made the grass a little slick but didn't do much other damage.
Stotler entered the game in right field in the fifth inning and played there the rest of the game.
“I fielded a couple of ground balls that made it through the infield, and the ball was decently wet when it got to me,” Stotler said.
Playing right field, Stotler said, was a little bit of a change of pace, as he predominantly played on the left side of the infield — at shortstop or third base — for most of his varsity career.
“I played a little in the outfield as a sophomore,” Stotler said. “I made a couple errors out there, and they moved me to the infield. I've played in the outfield for summer baseball, so it's not that unusual for me.
“I want to get a good feel for both, because I will probably start (at Coker College) at one of the corner outfield spots or at third or first base. I want to try everything. I will do whatever they need me to do. I will do whatever gets me in the field the fastest.”
After a summer of baseball in the Youngstown Class B league, Stotler reports to Coker on Aug. 13.
Coker College, in Hartsville, South Carolina, plays baseball in NCAA Division II.
Stotler will have the chance to get acclimated to campus life and his academic schedule before ramping up full-scale practice in early 2015 for his freshman season with the Cobras.
Freelance writer George Guido contributed to this report.�