East Xtra: Greensburg Central Catholic, coach form good match

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Anthony Manley admits that he didn't know much about the Greensburg Central Catholic baseball team when he took the head coaching position with the Centurions two weeks before the start of this season.

"I really only knew about a few kids from reading the paper and being a Greensburg guy," said Manley, who was an assistant at Hempfield last season. "I didn't really know who played where or who could do what."

What he found when he saw the Centurions at the tryouts was a veteran team that knew how to play the game.

"My first impression was that these guys could play," Manley said. "Their physical abilities, their hitting and throwing the ball, were very good. It was just a matter of me being able to set the tone and finding out what everyone could do."

Making matters more complicated was the weather. Greensburg Central Catholic had two of its early non-section games postponed. Those were games Manley anticipated being able to tinker with the lineup.

Instead, three of the Centurions first five games were against Class AA Section 4 foes, two of which were against section title contenders Steel Valley and Shady Side Academy.

The Centurions lost one-run games against both the Ironmen and Indians to start the season 1-2 in league play and 2-3 overall.

"I only got the job two weeks before the season and with not many non-section games, it took us awhile to get rolling," Manley said.

But the Centurions finally found their groove after the loss to Shady Side Academy, winning nine of their final 11 regular-season games.

The Centurions finished tied with the Indians for second in the section, one game behind Steel Valley. All three teams qualified for the WPIAL playoffs. GCC edged New Brighton, 12-11, Monday in a first-round game. They were scheduled to play Deer Lakes in the quarterfinals Wednesday at Fox Chapel.

The key for the Centurions was their hitting, as they scored at least 10 runs eight times during the final stretch. For the regular season, Greensburg Central Catholic averaged just less than 11 runs per game.

"We're very relentless at the plate," Manley said. "We want to jump on people and score five runs in the first inning."

Garrett Brooks is the table-setter for the offense. As of May 5, this senior leadoff hitter was second in the WPIAL with a .600 average.

"He's been squaring up the ball all season," Manley said. "It's the same swing every time. Even his outs are hit hard. He's also very disciplined. I think he has 18 or 19 walks. He's been great."

Brooks has plenty of skilled hitters behind him in the lineup.

Senior pitcher/outfielder Sean Bialecki (.523) joins Brooks among the league leaders in batting average, while senior pitcher/outfielder/infielder Corey Marshall, middle infielder sophomore Colin Liberatore and senior third baseman Andrew Lipniskis have been consistent at the plate for most of the season, Manley said.

On the mound, Liberatore has been the team's top pitcher, earning five wins.

Overall, it's been a good first season for Manley.

"I've been very encouraged," Manley said. "We've really played well as of late."



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