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Baseball player Nania commits to West Virginia

| Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Tribune-Review
Central Catholic's Richard Buxter is tagged out on a fielder's choice by Franklin Regional third baseman Brandon Nania during the top of the sixth inning of their game at Haymaker Park in Murrysville on April 18, 2012. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review

Brandon Nania received interest from quite a few Division I college teams for baseball.

One team's aggressiveness especially piqued his interest.

“West Virginia called me right away,” said Nania, a rising senior at Franklin Regional who made a verbal commitment earlier this month to play for the Mountaineers. “They gave me one call in the morning, and then they called me again and (said), ‘We want you to come down here and play baseball for us.'

“I liked the coaching staff when I went down there for a few camps, and they just got after it,” Nania added. “That really showed me that they're here to win.”

Nania, who also received interest from Youngstown State and the University of Buffalo, will follow in the footsteps of his father as a Division I baseball player — albeit at a rival school. Don Nania was a three-year letterwinner at the University of Pittsburgh and later was an assistant coach for the Panthers from 1985-93.

“He's been with me since diapers, so Pitt isn't new to him,” Don Nania said. “My theory on kids is if you can handle a new experience, you're going to be a bigger, stronger kid. That's why (Pitt isn't) a fit for us.”

Nania committed to the Mountaineers after a junior season in which he helped lead Franklin Regional to a second-place finish in Section 3-AAAA and a berth in the WPIAL playoffs. Batting in the cleanup spot for the second straight season, Nania hit .390 and led the team with four home runs and 24 runs batted in.

Defensively, Nania is versatile because he can play multiple positions, Franklin Regional coach Bobby Saddler said. Nania started at catcher as a junior and at third base during his sophomore season, and he also has the ability to play first base.

“He does a great job at the catcher position,” Saddler said. “He shuts down the opponents' run game, (and) he receives the ball extremely well from the pitchers. Mentally, you can't ask for more behind the plate. He calls all the games for the pitchers. He also brings an aspect of playing multiple positions.”

Aside from the West Virginia commitment, Nania is keeping himself busy this summer by playing with the Pittsburgh Spikes of the Western Pennsylvania Elite Baseball League.

He also traveled with the United States Specialty Sports Association's High School Varsity National Team to Prague, Czech Republic, where the team took third place in the USSSA All-American Games.

“The competition was great over there,” Nania said. “It was just something I didn't expect. It was a real eye-opener that there were kids in that country playing as good as us.”

Nania, who hopes to play Major League Baseball one day, will play this fall for the Allegheny Pirates, an elite baseball team that travels to play games at various colleges in the eastern United States.

While Nania said he was glad to have his college commitment out of the way before his senior season, he has some big goals in mind for his senior season.

“Going into school, I'm just going to work all fall and winter to come out in the spring,” Nania said. “It's my last year, and I want to come out with a section title and WPIAL championship because I haven't had that experience yet, and I want to win that. I want to go out on top as a senior.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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