East Xtra: St. Johns-Lefty's is still going strong

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

St. Johns-Lefty's comes into every season with four goals -- win the Greater Pittsburgh Federation Baseball League regular-season title, the league playoffs, the NABF regional and the NABF World Series.

The Saints already have checked off three, and will try to go 4 for 4 this week.

St. Johns, which claimed both the league regular season and playoffs for the eighth consecutive season, won the Pittsburgh regional title last week with a 4-1 victory against the Cleveland Blackwolves in the championship game.

Only the champion from the regional advances to the World Series, which consists of 12 teams and started Wednesday in Battle Creek, Mich.

It was the third regional title for the Saints, who also won in 2007 and 2012. They are still looking for their first World Series title, which kept the team's emotions in check this weekend.

"Our guys have a way of not getting excited about things," said Saints coach Tom McCarthy. "I want to win the championship just to see how we'll react.

"I mean, we were happy and excited after the win Sunday, but for the most part, we were pretty subdued, at least until they gave me a Gatorade bath. I was just glad they got it right this year, because last year they hit me with the cooler and I almost dropped the trophy."

McCarthy, a Plum native, has coached St. Johns for more than 30 years and has turned the Saints into a dynasty. Since 2000, St. Johns has won dual regular season and playoff titles in 11 of the 13 seasons.

That run coincides with the league's switch from aluminum to wood bats, and McCarthy said that's not a coincidence.

"When we went to the wooden bats, some of the older guys in the league that liked the stats they put up with aluminum went to other leagues," McCarthy said. "At that point, we restructured our team around pitching. We wanted to get the best pitching in the league every year, and we've been able to do that."

This year has been no exception. The team had a 2.17 ERA entering the regional.

Greg Frederick has been the team's ace. Frederick was 9-0 with a 1.43 ERA in 11 games during the Federation League season, with 90 strikeouts in 63 innings. Frederick then won two games in the regional, including the championship game, to earn MVP honors.

But he is hardly the only arm the Saints have. During league play, Andrew Rafalski was 4-0 with a 3.45 ERA; Bryan Warheit was also 4-0 with a 1.43 ERA; and Corry Ryan was 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA.

Additionally, the team may have Matt DeSalvo, Greg Schneider and Randy Sturgill this weekend for the World Series, as teams are able to add players to their rosters for the regionals and the World Series.

DeSalvo, a Union High School graduate, made it to the big leagues with the New York Yankees in 2007.

Schneider was a star pitcher at Thomas Jefferson who chose to attend the University of Pittsburgh last year, but left the Panthers in the fall. He was on the South Hills Federation team's roster this summer.

Sturgill, a Leechburg native, went to college at California (Pa). and played for the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League.

"Our pitching is deeper this year," said McCarthy. "It's always an advantage. Last year, our problem was we ran out of pitching at the end."

St. Johns finished second last season, just like it did in 2007. The Saints lost in the 2012 championship game to Chicago, the same team St. Johns was scheduled to open with last night at the World Series.

McCarthy said he isn't worried about his team being too amped up for the rematch.

"I think knowing our guys, they'll think it's just one step toward our goal," he said.



Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?