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Charleroi optimistic heading into second half

| Saturday, June 22, 2002

CHARLEROI - This weekend marks the midway point in the Fayette American Legion season, but more importantly for Charleroi, it's the first time in weeks the whole team could be together.

High school graduations, Senior Week and other events have kept six starters off the field.

After going undefeated the first two weeks, the team has since dropped four and needed a late-inning comeback to beat Farmington Monday. Other teams have experienced similar troubles with limited rosters of late, but that's not making the Magicians feel any better.

"As of right now we're going through a rough stage," said Charleroi pitcher Trevor Consavage, one of the players to miss games. "We're scrounging for players."

In a doubleheader against Carmichaels Wednesday, the team had 11 players. During the second game, one player got ejected, leaving just one on the bench. The Magicians had that many in Friday's 7-4 loss to Colonial 3.

Despite losing three straight, the team has posted a 6-4 record, second only to Connellsville in the North section. As Charleroi looks toward the second half of the season, players hope the return of their veterans will create a spark.

One of those returnees, Derek DiPiazza, said he has seen this before and has little doubt their presence will make a difference.

"We're going to come on in the end," he said. "We have had a lack on concentration. We have had it more because half our starters go away."

A lack of top pitchers and defense at times has illustrated just how much they are needed. Of the team's main pitchers - Jason Cypher, Dave Wachinski, DiPiazza and Consavage - all but Wachinski have missed games.

The Magicians have yielded six runs per game.

They have really missed Cypher, the co-leader with Wachinski in wins with three, because of his ability to strike out batters. He recorded nine strikeouts in five innings in a win against Farmington.

Keith Carson has mainly seen time in relief but did throw five innings Friday, and Gino DeRosa earned a win in an exhibition game against Lincoln Place.

The entire staff is expected back for Sunday's 3 p.m. contest against Connellsville at home. It's the first of five games in a four-day span, concluding with a doubleheader at Uniontown Wednesday.

Charleroi manager Tom Hartman is also not too concerned about the players coming together. The key, though, is to play well going into the playoffs July 12, he said.

"This happens every year... there is a 10-day span I don't have a lot of people," Hartman said. "For all the teams there is overall seeding going into the playoffs. That's why it's important in the last month."

His goal for the team, besides win the South section title, is to make regionals. The top two squads from Region 6 advance.

Connellsville, Colonial and Uniontown offer the biggest threats, Hartman said.

Scoring hasn't been a problem as the team tacked on double figures three times.

NOTES: The Fayette American Legion Baseball North-South All-Star game originally scheduled for today in Washington has been cancelled. No makeup date has been announced.

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