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Deep roster pushing North Hills Palomino to winning streak

| Thursday, June 28, 2018, 11:00 p.m.
North Hills catcher JT Mazula (24) competes against Mars Monday, April 30, 2018, at North Hills.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
North Hills catcher JT Mazula (24) competes against Mars Monday, April 30, 2018, at North Hills.

By and large, the North Hills Palomino baseball team has picked up where the high school varsity team left off.

After all, the Indians Palomino team features a majority of the same players from the WPIAL championship-winning varsity squad. And so far, they are winning games at a similar rate.

The team started 9-1 in the Quad-County North Palomino League, and was riding a nine-game winning streak.

While much of their success is due to the efforts of the same players who drove the Indians varsity team to triumphs, plenty under-the-radar players have offered valuable contributions, as well, according to coach Jason Bisesi.

“I think our lineup is pretty deep. We can run nine guys out there and feel confident that we're going to have success throughout the lineup. We have some pitchers who may have not seen that much time on varsity for high school that have come out here and have been very successful,” Bisesi said.

“We've had some young guys that are coming out and giving us very good innings in different spots and situations.”

The Indians' pitching staff has been anchored by ace Beau Braunlich, a significant piece of the varsity team's title run. However, one player who didn't receive much varsity time this year, Sam Ranallo, is carving out a valuable niche for himself as a dependable relief pitcher.

“He has definitely, at this point, exceeded expectations on the mound,” Bisesi said of Ranallo.

“He's been tremendous coming on in relief, I think he has come in for four of our last six games, and he's only yielded two hits and one run in a combined 12 innings. He's been very impressive to start out this summer season.”

At the plate, first-team WPIAL all-section performers Steven Miller, JT Mazula and Jordan Pitchford have been reliable producers helping to lead the Palomino lineup in much the same way they did the varsity team.

Another player who has taken advantage of an increased role with the summer team is left fielder Tanner Schmitt, who has impressed his coaches' with both his peskiness at the plate and his prowess in the field.

“He's been the consummate teammate, he's just very competitive, and I think that's why he's done such a great job in the leadoff spot. We really like him there,” Bisesi said.

“He's one of the strengths of our defense, especially with Jordan Pitchford and Conner Warner with him there out in the outfield. Those guys have been able to run down some balls and really make plays for our pitchers.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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