Monroeville Legion team leans on pitching staff
Gateway coach Mark Wardzinski has taken over Monroeville’s Legion team this summer.
There are familiar faces at every position as every member of the club competed for the Gators this spring or have ties to the high school program.
After an 8-2 start, Gateway’s varsity team advanced to the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs as a section runner-up this season. The Gators went 9-3 in section play to land the program’s fourth consecutive WPIAL playoff berth.
Wardzinski hopes to build off that success. He’s optimistic the Legion team will enjoy a banner season, thanks in large part to a deep and talented pitching corps.
So far, so good.
Monroeville’s Legion squad represents Post 820 and plays a 16-game schedule in Region 6, competing twice against Highlands, Baldwin, Bethel Park, South Allegheny, Plum, South Park, Elizabeth Forward and Upper St. Clair.
“I feel this team will be very competitive in this league. We have a very tough pitching staff,” Wardzinski said. ”Our goal is to play competitive baseball during the season and the tournaments. We are focusing on having good at-bats and working the count.”
The pitching staff consists of Anthony Cammuso, Jaired Lehman, Joe Schulte, Ethan Birckbichler, Jordan Stancovich, Ryan Greggerson, Grady Otterman and Luke Jackson, the only lefty in the group. Cammuso and Lehman are expected to be staff mainstays.
Cammuso (SS/2B), Lehman (SS), Stancovich (C/OF) and Jackson (CF) will man other positions when not on the mound, along with Dalton Vojnik (3B) and Donovan Baxter (1B/C).
“I expect us to play together and play well all summer and develop team chemistry for the (2020) varsity season,” said Cammuso, who rated Plum and Bethel Park as his team’s chief rivals this summer. “I think we need to put in work almost every day, but I see us winning out the rest of this season and moving on to states.”
Also in the mix for Monroeville are Schulte (OF), Birckbichler (OF), Greggerson (OF/1B), Otterman (2B), Carsen Engleka (OF/C) and Jared Busche (OF).
Two college players on the squad are 1B/3B Justin Stancovich (La Roche) and C/OF Caleb Lehman (Chatham).
“We have 12 full-time players,” Wardzinski said. “We also have a few double-roster players from Junior Legion in Joey Sides, Justin Longo, Alex Majocha and Will Roper.
“Justin Stancovich played for Gateway last year and is on our roster when we need him. Caleb Lehman played for Gateway last year, as well. He is also on roster when we need him.”
Through last week, Monroeville had a 4-1 record, defeating Highlands, 4-0, Baldwin, 9-0, South Allegheny, 3-0, and Plum, 7-2, and losing to Bethel Park, 3-1.
Monroeville’s pitchers allowed only five runs through five games and tossed three shutouts.
In the two most recent victories, Cammuso struck out 11 in seven innings against South Allegheny, and Jordan Stancovich threw a two-hitter in six innings versus Plum.
“Jordan is player to look out for, offensively and defensively,” Cammuso said.
Monroeville was sparked at the plate by Vojnik (three RBIs), Cammuso (two RBIs) and Engleka (two hits).
Jordan Stancovich led Gateway’s baseball team this spring with a .373 batting average, followed by Cammuso (.369), Tony Caggiano (.341), Birckbichler (.333), Ethan Frenchik (.323) and Jaired Lehman (.321).
Cammuso and Stancovich were the top two in base hits.
With four wins, Cammuso also was the Gators’ pitching ace and was complemented on the mound by Schulte (3-0), Frenchik (2-1) and Lehman (2-1).
Wardzinski is in his 12th year coaching and his sixth year as a head coach at Gateway. He was an assistant in 2018 after taking off two years from coaching.
Before that, he was the Gators’ field boss for five seasons.
The Monroeville Legion team also is scheduled to participate in a few tournaments this summer.
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.