Parkland Press

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY MIKE HAINESThe Parkland baseball team tasted EPC gold for the second straight season. PRESS PHOTO BY MIKE HAINESThe Parkland baseball team tasted EPC gold for the second straight season.
PRESS PHOTO BY MIKE HAINES Parkland athletic director Jeff Geisel and head coach Kurt Weber present medals to the players after the league title game. PRESS PHOTO BY MIKE HAINES Parkland athletic director Jeff Geisel and head coach Kurt Weber present medals to the players after the league title game.

Trojans win EPC baseball title

Thursday, May 24, 2018 by Mike Haines mhaines@tnonline.com in Sports

Parkland head coach Kurt Weber has seen a lot of Trojan baseball teams earn league titles. He saw another one crowned last week and it was just as enjoyable as his first time back in 2000 when he was an assistant under Terry Stoudt.

“It never gets old,” said Weber, who has been head coach for three years and was an assistant with the program since 1999. “I used to tell coach [Tony] Galucy that when he was putting the medals on. Every one is a little bit different. Every one is special.

“It’s a different cast of characters. We make them work hard and it’s always nice to see them get some rewards.”

The Trojans had to travel to Scranton to get in the last two rounds of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs last Friday after rain delayed the tournament for most of last week.

Parkland dispatched of Stroudsburg in a 9 a.m. game at Scranton University’s brand-new sports complex, which has an all-artificial turf baseball field.

After beating the No. 3 seed Mountaineers 8-3 to advance to the final, slated for 1:30 that afternoon, No. 2 seed Parkland waited for top-seeded Easton to take care of Emmaus in the other semifinal, putting the top two seeds in the title game.

The Trojans got a masterful pitching performance from junior Adam Smith and a big day at the plate for Cullan Wadsworth to down the Red Rovers 8-0 and earn their second straight league title, which is also the program’s fourth in the past five years.

While it might have taken a long time and a few extra miles on the team bus to get the games played, the Trojans were happy to finally be on a field.

“We just wanted to play,” said Wadsworth, who had two hits and two RBIs in each game. “Every day it got postponed it made us want it even more.”

Parkland jumped on Stroudsburg early, going ahead 3-0 in the first inning and tacking on another in the third. The Mounties rallied and knocked starter AJ Polumbo out of the game, but Collin Duff came on to get out of a two-on, one-out jam in the fourth and held Stroudsburg scoreless. Alex Oliver came in to pitch the final out.

The Trojans got Duff some insurance in the sixth inning when Adam Mellinger (2-for-4, 3 RBIs vs. Stroudsburg) capped a four-run inning with a two-run double to give his team an 8-3 lead.

Parkland also jumped on Easton early, getting a pair of runs in the second inning and another two in the third for a 4-0 lead.

“That gave us a lot of confidence,” said Smith. “Then we just kept working, kept putting runs up. That helped me a lot. We were in control most of the game.”

Smith allowed just four hits while walking two batters. He also kept his pitch count low enough to make it through the sixth inning.

“I was able to locate my fastball well today,” he said. “My curveball had good movement. I was able to keep their hitters off balance and keep them guessing what was coming next.”

Smith, is 9-0 with an ERA around 2.0, has been Parkland ace this season after the team graduated most of last year’s pitching staff. He’s been with the varsity team for four years, helping the team wherever his coaches ask.

“He was our starting shortstop as a freshman and as a sophomore,” said Weber. “This year his playing time actually decreased because we’re pitching him all the time. The days after he pitches he doesn’t get to play. Not a peep out of him. He knows his role. I tip my cap to him. He’s one of the special kids I’ve had a chance to coach.”

The Trojans added a run on a walk and a Wadsworth RBI single in the fourth inning and nearly finished off the Monties in the sixth. They pushed three runs across and still had runners on first and second with one out before a line-drive double play ended the inning.

Koby Staivecki came on to pitch in the seventh inning and retired all three Rovers he faced.

Matt Ervolina went 2-for-3 with a couple RBIs in the title game and Jeremy Piatkiewicz was 2-for-2 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored.

Parkland heads into this week’s District 11 tournament as the top seed in Class 6A. No. 8 seed Pleasant Valley, which beat Northampton 2-1 in a play-in game, is the Trojans’ quarterfinal round opponent, scheduled for Wednesday at Parkland. That game was played after Press deadline. See next week’s issue for more postseason coverage.

The district semifinal is slated for Memorial Day at Lehigh University with the finals on May 30 back at the Lehigh.