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Pitching limitation hurts Seneca Valley

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In an unfortunate bit of irony, the PIAA rule limiting pitchers to 14 innings a week surfaced around the Seneca Valley baseball team for the second time in three seasons.

Seneca Valley, the No. 2 team in the Tribune-Review Class AAAA baseball rankings, defeated Pine-Richland on April 18, 3-2, with Nick Kendrick pitching nine of the 10 innings. Kendrick, however, pitched seven earlier in the week in a 3-2 victory against Shaler. That put him over the limit, leading to a forfeit victory for Pine-Richland, the No. 3 team in the rankings.

“I take full blame for it,” Seneca Valley coach Eric Semega said.

Two years ago in the state championship game, the pitching limitation worked in Seneca Valley’s favor. In that game against Souderton of District 1, Seneca Valley pitcher Cory Mazzoni and Souderton’s Kyle Greenwalt allowed no runs for seven innings.

Greenwalt, a Houston Astros draft choice, was forced out of the game at that point because he had pitched seven innings in a semifinal game earlier in the week. Mazzoni stayed on the mound because teammate Kyle Helisek had pitched in the semifinal. With Greenwalt out of the game, Seneca Valley scored one run in the eighth and eight in the ninth to win, 9-1, and claim the school’s second state baseball title.

“The PIAA rules are for everybody,” Souderton coach Mike Childs said at the time. “They’re for the good of the game.”

Semega has built one of the top baseball programs in the WPIAL, strong enough to withstand the loss of 11 seniors from last year’s team and still win seven of its first eight games between the lines. Seneca Valley (6-2, 3-2) is tied with Butler for third place in Section 1, behind No. 1 North Allegheny and Pine-Richland. The top three teams will advance to the playoffs.

Prediction: One loss won’t keep Seneca Valley out of the playoffs. Sleep well, Eric.

Football ‘factory’

Not long ago, it was difficult to find Avonworth High School graduates on college football rosters.

Coach Jason Kekseo, however, is overseeing a rebirth of the program and the path to local small colleges soon will be strewn with Avonworth grads.

In the past three seasons, Avonworth has sent nine players to area small colleges, including the prize of the school’s 2009 recruiting class, running back Khiry Watts.

Watts, who was third in the WPIAL last season with 1,701 yards rushing while scoring 20 touchdowns, will attend Clarion, along with teammate Matt Richardson, a wide receiver. Fullback Tim Werley (Allegheny), quarterback Tyler Fatigante (Waynesburg) and linebacker Justin Okinski (Bethany) also plan to continue their careers in college.

Last year, running back Zack Mihalko went to St. Vincent. After the 2006 season, Waynesburg landed three Avonworth graduates — quarterback Josh Graham, tight end Zach Fatigante and fullback Al Okinski.

Another road to college

Speaking of factories, Baldwin basketball coach Kyle DeGregorio will send his 10th player to college when senior point guard Jordan Greer joins the team at Westminster. Greer, a three-year starter, finished with 273 career assists. He plans to major in business after maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average.

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