Pine-Richland Palomino players soaking up final summer together
On the heels of winning the WPIAL Class 6A championship this past season, Pine-Richland’s baseball players have very little left to prove on the diamond.
So for the Rams team that is playing in the Pittsburgh North Palomino league, coach Rich Bowler decided to take a different approach with his players, most of whom already graduated from high school a month ago.
“The approach this season was to pull all these seniors together, and the focus is to give them a lasting, memorable final baseball experience together,” Bowler said. “We want to have a lot of fun. Pine-Richland is always posting uber-competitive teams.
“I just wanted to let some air out of the bag and let these guys hang loose and play some ball so that they can enjoy their last run together before they all move on to school or whatever.”
As is typically the case with many local summer ball clubs, the Pine-Richland (3-8-1) Palomino team has had spotty attendance because of vacations, work obligations and players leaving for college. But the team has remained consistent at the plate.
One of the few rising seniors on the club, Matt Walck, has been a force in the middle of the lineup. The first baseman/outfielder has shown substantial development at the plate over the course of the summer, Bowler said.
“Matt has come on really strong for us, and he’s hit the ball against some of the best pitchers we’ve faced,” Bowler said. “He’s come a long way. He’s kind of like a big wild card surprise in our lineup.
“He’s driven in some runs because the guys at the top of the order are huge contact hitters. Their on-base percentage has been ridiculous. They’re all hitting .300 or better, and they just find a way to get on base. They contribute to the feeling that it’s just a team effort every time we take the field.”
At the top of the order John Berger, Ronan Berger and Josh Scherer, who has excelled both on the mound and at the plate, have helped to fuel the offense. Utility infielder Ryan Bowler also has performed well, putting together one of the most consistent seasons among the Rams hitters.
All four of the aforementioned players have graduated and are beneficiaries of the culture Rich Bowler is promoting.
“Some of these guys might not take the field again until they coach T-ball for their kids some day,” he said. “So we tell them to look around, smell the roses and enjoy the season because they’re going to miss it when it’s all said and done.
”Some may play in college or in an adult league later on, but some are going to hang their cleats up for good. And we want to send them off with some good memories.”
Kevin Lohman is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.