Penn Hills baseball team finds success in 1st Pony League season
The Penn Hills 13U travel baseball team includes a strong nucleus of players that has played together many years and continues to have success as it navigates different age groups every season.
This summer, the team has participated in four tournaments, winning three in its first year in the Pony League.
Before the most recent loss, in the semifinals at the McKeesport tournament in late July, the team won seven straight tournaments dating to its 12U season, when it won all four tournaments.
“It has just been straight-up teamwork. If one or two kids don’t perform well, it’s on the other kids to pull them up,” coach Joe Pizzuti said.
“Since these kids have played with each other for so long, they all know their strengths and weaknesses. I think they work well together to capitalize on their strengths.”
Penn Hills’ first championship came with a 7-6 win over No. 1 Pine-Richland in the title game of the Memorial Day tournament. Then Penn Hills defeated the Peters Township Bandits, 15-5, in the championship game of the Penn Township Summer Slam.
Penn Hills, which is 26-5, beat Franklin Regional, 5-1, at the Franklin Regional Classic.
“I think when you get to Pony League, the teams all start to balance themselves out because a lot of the kids hit their growth spurts. In most tournaments that we play, the games are competitive and the games are rather close,” Pizzuti said.
The team has been lead by a core that, for the most part, has played together since 7U: Cody Pizzuti, Mack Byrnes, Sean Walker, Ken Boyle, Chyno Spearman, Philmore Austin and Lenny Duncan.
Spearman and Duncan have been key contributors at the plate and on the mound. Cody Pizzuti and Byrnes have made their mark at the plate, and Boyle has played a big part of the pitching staff.
John Hughes has helped the team out at the plate and on the pitching mound, and Grant Miller has rounded out the deep pitching staff.
“What makes us very special is our lineup is pretty balanced from top to bottom. There are times that our top of the lineup isn’t driving in the runs, but it’s the bottom of the lineup,” Pizzuti said.
“Most teams load up with their lineup, and after their first four guys it drastically falls off. But our team can hit from our No. 1 spot all the way to our No. 11 spot.”
The team closes out its schedule when it participates in the Lake Erie Classic, which consists of about a dozen teams, in early August.
Last season, the team finished third out of nine teams at the 12U level in the Golden Spikes tournament.