A true 'boy of summer'
While Dylan Pietrantoni was busy in his freshman season as a baseball player at St. Vincent College, he was wondering what he would be doing in the summer months.
Little did he know it then, but the 2014 Belle Vernon Area graduate would end up pitching in the competitive Johnstown All American Amateur Baseball Association Baseball League for Laurel Auto Group.
And how did he play? Well, the right-hander posted a 6-1 record with an ERA of 2.63 and was named the league's Rookie Pitcher of the Year.
He has pitched a team-leading 41 innings with 26 strikeouts and 14 walks.
Pietrantoni said he was surprised to win the individual rookie award, noting, “It caught me off guard. I was just going out there pitching the best I can and I had a really good defense behind me.”
His season is not over yet as Pietrantoni's team is getting ready to play in the league's championship series against Martella's Pharmacy.
Laurel (28-7) and Martella's (29-6) open a best-of-five series Wednesday at the Point Stadium in Johnstown.
While Pietrantoni is not slated to be on the mound in Game 1, he expects to get the nod in Game 2 on Thursday.
How did Pietrantoni end up playing for Johnstown?
“Our second baseman at St. Vincent (Ben Webb) plays for them and he told the coach about me,” said Pietrantoni. “He came to see me play at St. Vincent and ended up recruiting me.”
Pietrantoni isn't the lone area player on the Laurel Auto roster. Elizabeth Forward graduate Ryan Wardropper also plays. Wardropper is hitting .281 with a team-leading 114 at bats with 32 hits and 26 runs scored.The Johnstown loop is for players in high school planning to play collegiately, as well as those who already play college ball.
“You can start in the league as early as 16 years old and play until your senior year of college. There are mostly college guys in the league,” Pietrantoni said. “I absolutely love it. It's like playing against a college team that is stacked every single game. It is great competition.”
Regardless of how Laurel Auto does in the league championship series, the team still has some big games left to play.
Pietrantoni's squad will play in the AAABA National Tournament next week. During its long history, the national tournament has seen over 400 Major League Baseball players compete in it, including Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, John Smoltz and Joe Torre, as well as current Boston Red Sox manager Jim Farrell.
Even though his summer is far from over, Pietrantoni is already looking forward to his sophomore year at St. Vincent.
“We missed the playoffs (last season), but I had a pretty good freshman year,” he said. “We started slow and then we got rolling at the end, but it was too little, too late.”
Pietrantoni went 3-7 for the Bearcats with an ERA of 5.25. But what was important to him was that coming right out of high school, his college coach wasn't afraid to hand him the ball.
“I was really pleased with my playing time as a freshman,” he said. “I'm really hoping for an even better sophomore year.”
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.