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Bothel named MVP

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Friday, July 2, 2004

Worthington-Kittanning catcher Brad Bothell didn't stand out at the plate, but he garnered North team Most Valuable Player honors for his play behind it during the third annual Tri-State Palomino All-Star Game last Sunday at Falconi Field.

Bothell was one of 12 local players who took part in the game. The North was managed by Zach Jankowski, the manager of Kiski Palomino.

The South won, 8-5.

Bothell, who also plays for Armstrong Central Legion, was hit by a pitch in his only at-bat, but stole two bases, threw out a base-runner and made what Jankowski called a "great play" when he scooped up a wild pitch, and fired to a pitcher covering home, who tagged out a sliding base-runner.

Other local players on the North side were Billy Spina (OF), Derek Fallecker (SS-3B) and Jason Crighton (2B) of Kiski; Ben Smith (P-1B) and Andy Wantland (2B) of Natrona Heights Anchor Inn; Josh Guthrie (P-2B) and Pat Schneider (OF) of Worthington-Kittanning; Todd Kennedy (C), Zach Toth (P-1B) and Jeff Foster (2B) of Lyndora; and Kyle Bartholic (C) of Freeport.

Wantland hit a run-scoring single, and Guthrie also had a base hit.

The Lyndora players played for Knoch High School. Knoch's Palomino team folded a few years back, so they latched on with Lyndora.

Like Palomino baseball in general, the all-star game appears to be gaining momentum.

"The Legion all-stars are pretty established," Jankowski said. "With our all-star game, we wanted to do something similar to that. I think the quality of players at the Palomino level are very similar, if not better than, Legion."

Kiski Palomino (7-5, 9-7) had its schedule backed up because several team members played on the successful Kiski Area High School team, and now faces a grueling stretch of games.

The team began a stretch Thursday that has it playing nine games in seven days. After that, the team will leave for a tournament in Russiaville, Ind.

If Kiski players begin swinging their bats as well as Jankowski has been swinging his golf clubs lately, the team could be in a position to lock up a playoff berth.

Jankowski got his first hole-in-one last Sunday morning -- hours before he coached the all-stars -- at Apollo Elks Country Club, where he is a member.

Independent's Day

The Springdale Independent Players won the Seneca Valley Wooden Bat Tournament in Lyndora last weekend.

Springdale lost only one game in the tournament but won six, including an 8-5 victory over Mifflin County Moose Legion in the championship game.

Cody Vincent (6-0) was the winning pitcher in two games Sunday -- a 12-0 semifinal win over Lawrence County and the championship game later in the day.

Chris Miller hit a three-run homer for Springdale in the finale.

Springdale (10-4), which has won back-to-back Connie Mack championships, is looking for another extended stay in the World Series later this summer. The team lost in the regional round last year.

The team, which is managed by Jim Basilone, consists of players from Springdale, New Kensington and several areas outside of the Valley such as Warren, Shaler and Wexford.

Back on track

Kiski Valley Legion started the season 0-8, but is turning things around thanks to a recent three-game win streak.

Kiski ended its losing skid with a 9-7 victory over winless Freeport. Darwin Shoop and Josh Humphrey each had three hits, and Gabe Dunmire homered in the win.

That game was followed by a 9-1 victory over Freeport, and a 16-5 victory against East Hempfield.

In the second game against Freeport, Jerry Walker and Dunmire each notched a pair of hits. Against East Hempfield, Brad Garrone homered and Jared Shaffer tripled.

"The fellows are coming around," Kiski Valley manager Bob Shaffer said. "We had a lot of guys waiting for the high school season to end and it hurt us. But they are getting on a roll now."

Kiski has played a game just about every day since the high school team's season ended. Only a few players from the high school team joined the Legion team.

The others went to either Kiski Palomino or Lower Burrell Legion, depending on where they live and which team they wanted to play for.

On the Web

West Penn Baseball Prospectus, a newsletter dealing with college baseball prospects that is published four times yearly, has launched a Web site. Coaches, players and fans can now check out WPBP's top prospects online at www.wpabaseball.com.

WPBP, which is published by Tony Villiotti, lists two Plum players as high NCAA Division-I prospects.

Based on performance reports by area coaches, pitchers Eric McGough and Jason Schmiedel are among the top 12 high D-I college prospects.

McGough also is a first baseman, while Schmiedel also plays third base and shortstop.

Four local players are listed as lower Division I prospects. They are Brian Yourko (OF-P) of Deer Lakes, and A.J. Bonetto (C-P), Kelly Fisher (OF) and Matt Pellis (OF) of Plum.

All of the above players are 2004 graduates.

Successful event

The Jeff Christy All-Pro Open charity golf outing was held last Friday at Pittsburgh North Golf Club. The event was successful despite a lack of celebrity players.

In six years, the event has raised more than $140,000 (gross) for the Freeport Baseball Association.

Rematch

The Highlands' Ronnie's Red Hots, a newly sponsored Colt team, will try to avenge a loss to Burrell when the teams square off at 6 p.m. today at Highlands High School.

A Burrell team defeated a Highlands area team last year in the finals of the District 26 junior tournament. All of the Highlands players from that team now play for Ronnie's. Most of the Burrell players were on that juniors team.

Upcoming events

Two showcases are coming to western Pennsylvania.

= The All-American Baseball Clinic will be at 9 a.m. July 9 at Connellsville High School. Contact: Brian Shipley, 724-887-9669 or 724-433-4259.

= On July 28, the Pittsburgh Blazers Showcase will be held at LaRoche College. There will be two sessions, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Contact: Dave Hungerman, 412-580-9680 or visit www.westpennaau.org/blazers.

= The big event for seven local Legion players will be the All-West All-Star Game next Thursday at PNC Park.

Springdale outfielder Mike McKay, Plum pitcher Eric McGough, second baseman Steve Beckett and outfielder Matt Pellis, Armstrong Central catcher Brad Bothell, Arnold third baseman Joe Veltri and Kiski Valley pitcher Jared Shaffer will represent the A-K Valley in the event.

Players are to report to the park at 8 a.m. The "game" will begin shortly after.

The top players as selected by a panel of professional and college scouts will advance to the East-West All-Star Game July 25 in Harrisburg.

The East-West game is the culmination of several all-star qualifying rounds.

Additional Information:

American Legion District 31 (Westmoreland County) Standings

North/West Division

Team W-L Pct GB

Murrysville 10-1 .909 --

Bushy Run 12-4 .750 1/2

Lower Burrell 6-2 .750 2 1/2

Arnold 7-4 .636 3

Irwin 8-6 .571 3 1/2

Armstrong Central 5-6 .454 5

Kiski Valley 3-8 .273 7

Freeport 0-14 .000 11 1/2

South / East Division

West Hempfield 8-4 .666 --

Yough 7-5 .583 1

Latrobe 7-6 .538 1 1/2

Derry 7-7 .500 2

Greensburg 6-7 .461 2 1/2

Unity 6-7 .461 2 1/2

Hempfield East 2-9 .181 5 1/2

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