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Freeport grad picks PSAC's Mercyhurst

| Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 1:26 a.m.

One of Armstrong County's top hitters is taking his bats to the north.

Freeport graduate Matt Swartz, a WPIAL Class AA all-star, will attend Merchyhurst in the fall to join one of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference's top baseball programs.

Swartz was a Leader Times all-star the last two seasons by virtue of batting over .400 each year as a catcher and first baseman. His 44 RBIs were the most of any player in the county over the last three season.

“It's a great college and a great baseball program in a strong conference. I really pictured myself there for four years,” Swartz said. “I went up there to their winter camps, and the coaches liked my swing.”

Swartz said Mercyhurst landed on his radar after hitting with another Freeport grad and current Lakers outfielder Ryan Siegel, a three-time all-PSAC West player, and Swartz hopes he can have similar success at the Division II level.

“I would love to play Division I like anyone else would, but I'm not there as a player yet,” Swartz said. “I also had some D-III coaches contact me, but I wanted to play the best competition I could. If there is a chance to continue my career past college, (Mercyhurst) was the place to go.”

While Swartz would love to follow in the footsteps of Mercyhurst pitcher Dan Altavilla, a fifth-round pick in this year's MLB draft, that dream is off in the distance.

For now, the former Yellowjackets and Kiski Valley Legion player is preparing himself to start practicing with the Lakers, and hopefully, find his way onto the field during his freshman season.

“Ryan filled me in on what freshman fall is like, so I'm not going in blind,” Swartz said. “My preference would be to play catcher, but I've played first and third base in high school. What they really loved was my bat, and it's all about getting your foot in the door (for playing time).”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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