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Upper St. Clair Legion team preps for postseason

| Wednesday, July 8, 2015, 11:57 a.m.

It's no surprise that the Upper St. Clair Legion team will be participating in the 2015 playoffs since all seven teams in the Allegheny South Ward qualify for the postseason.

What is surprising is how the young squad has been holding its own against more experienced competition.

“I knew we were going to be the underdog going in,” coach Brian Lohman said. “We have some kids playing AAU who may have thought the grass was greener elsewhere, but we have a lot of boys who were really excited to play Legion and looking forward to using wood bats. Now we have kids who are spending more time with us than with their AAU team.

“This season has been a lot of fun.”

At the start of this week, Upper St. Clair owned a 5-7 record, which was good for fourth place in the Allegheny South standings. Lohman was hoping to squeeze in three more games this week to help his team prepare for the single-elimination tournament that's scheduled to begin on Saturday.

Scheduling home games has been a challenge for Lohman this summer because his team shares Baker Field with two Upper St. Clair Colt League squads. Lohman's team has played just two of its first 12 games at home.

Upper St. Clair was tested right out of the gate with its season-opener against a stout Elizabeth Forward squad that features a pair of college pitchers. Upper St. Clair lost the game 8-4, but Lohman saw something in the way his team battled throughout the contest.

“Those kids were studs,” Lohman said of Elizabeth Forward. “My kids were kind of shocked, but they fought back.”

Through the season's first dozen games, Upper St. Clair has leaned heavily on its trio of starting pitchers — Tommy Bash, Alex King and Stephen Darby. They've had success by keeping the ball down, changing speeds and working ahead in the count, according to their coach.

“They've done an excellent job preparing themselves for each game,” Lohman said. “They've matured a lot this summer. ”

Helping the pitchers keep runners off the base paths is an Upper St. Clair defense that's making the routine plays and limiting mental errors from one pitch to the next. The middle infield has become adept at turning double plays, notching as many as three twin-killings in a game this season.

Offensively, shortstop Dylan Wynseck and outfielders Jackson Geisler and Spencer Lohman entered this week with batting averages north of .400. Geisler and Lohman came into this week tied for the team lead in hits with 13 apiece.

“We have a lot of other players hitting above .300 as well,” Lohman said. “Even our freshmen and call-ups have proven they can handle themselves in the field and at the plate, which is a positive sign for USC baseball moving into the future.”

Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.

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