East Xtra: Riverview senior captain patrols outfield

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Two years ago, Rich Griser remembers fans joking about his right fielder.

Those remarks weren't poking fun toward his young outfielder as much as they were making a statement about the then-sophomore's tremendous range.

"There was a game where a ball was hit down the line in left field," the veteran Riverview coach said. "People were yelling out that Jason Anthony should have made the play ... and he was in right field.

"They saw what he could do in the outfield and were joking that he could have made a catch if he were [a little] closer."

Griser later ended up shifting Anthony into center field and never regretted the move.

"The thing about Jason is that he has an aggressive mindset," Griser said. "He makes things happen. At the plate, he gets his hacks in. He's aggressive on the basepaths, he's aggressive in the field and is the kid who makes diving catches.

"Jason is not afraid to take chances and his aggressiveness has helped this team."

Anthony, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound three-year starter, has been one of the Raiders' top outfielders and hitters this season.

One of five senior captains, Anthony helped Riverview (14-6) earn a spot in the WPIAL Class A third-place consolation game Wednesday against Sewickley Academy. A victory in that game would send Riverview into the PIAA Class A tournament; a loss would end its season.

"He was one of the top hitters in the WPIAL, one of the best center fielders in the WPIAL and he probably went under the radar this season," Griser said. "This kid goes all out every game.

"He's the type of kid who is going to go all out to make a catch in the field and has a great arm. He makes unbelievable catches and he's not afraid to get dirty."

Anthony also became Riverview's top offensive player. In the regular season, he finished with the third-highest batting average in the WPIAL. He hit .582 (32 for 55) with a team-leading 21 RBIs and 20 runs scored.

"I've learned that I play better the more aggressive I am," said Anthony, an Oakmont resident. "Whether it's in the field or at the plate, I've played my best being as aggressive as I can be out there."

Riverview earned the third playoff spot out of Section 4-A after finishing behind Springdale and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic during the regular season.

The Raiders went on to upset No. 6 seed Serra Catholic, 6-1, in the first round, then outslugged Union, 12-10, in the quarterfinals. The Raiders lost to Carmichaels, 9-0, in the semifinals.

"We've had a lot of good senior leadership and haven't given up," Anthony said. "It's been a fun season. We gave ourselves a good chance to make the playoffs. For the seniors, we saw early in the season we had the potential. We worked hard and it paid off this year."

Before losing to Carmichaels in the semifinals, Riverview used a seventh-inning rally to beat Union, 12-10, in the quarterfinals. Anthony went 4 for 4 and drove in two runs against Union. He also pitched in relief to earn the win.

"There was a point in the season where he asked if he could help out by pitching and he became our closer," Griser said. "He has a decent fastball and good breaking pitches.

"He's a leader. I can't say enough about him getting everyone on board and helping us win ballgames."

Anthony, who also played basketball for Riverview, will major in engineering next fall at West Virginia University. He also plans to try out for the Mountaineers baseball team as a walk-on.

"If you want to be successful, you need a player like Jason as part of your mix," Griser said. "You want this kind of player on your team. He's hard-nosed. People see what he does and it rubs off on the rest of the team."

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