South Xtra: Upper St. Clair grad prospering in Federation League
July 17, 2014 12:00 AM
Upper St. Clair graduate Mike Pezzone has been a welcome addition to the Allegheny Valley lineup.
By Ryan Riordan / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Whether he's on the mound, in the field, or at the plate, Mike Pezzone is a player the Allegheny Valley Baseball Club expects to excel.
"I've never seen a player who's so talented at so many different positions," Allegheny Valley manager Kevin Giza said. "He's our ace [pitcher], but he also plays shortstop and center field; he even caught a game for us last year.
"He hits really well, too. He's just a really good athlete."
Pezzone played baseball and soccer at Upper St. Clair before heading to Allegheny College to play on the diamond. Pezzone appeared in 19 games as a freshman in 2011, then had a break-out season in 2012, hitting .339 with a team-best two home runs and six doubles. He finished second in total bases with 52. He also struck out a team-best 37 batters in 422/3 innings pitched.
As a junior, he eventually moved into the closer role, saving two games. But he took a step back at the plate, with his batting average dropping to .275.
"My junior year, teams started getting the scouting report on me -- that I had trouble hitting offspeed pitches," Pezzone said.
"So I worked hard in the offseason on trying to sit back on the curves and sliders and going the other way with them. I realized I wasn't going to see many fastballs, but I needed to jump on them when I did.
"That approach really helped me my senior year."
Pezzone bounced back to lead the Gators in average (.365), doubles (18), home runs (4), RBIs (35) and total bases (90, which was 28 more than the next best on the team). He was also 1-1 on the mound in six appearances, with a 4.16 earned-run average and an opponent's .200 batting average against.
His performance earned him a selection to the All-North Coast Athletic Conference first team, as well as the American Baseball Coaches' Association Mideast Region third team.
He's carried his success over to the Greater Pittsburgh Federation League for Allegheny Valley, which entered the week in fifth place in the seven-team league. Pezzone played for the Bucs' collegiate team last season, but now is making the transition to the more experienced Fed League semipro team.
He said the competition level in college may be a little better than he is seeing this summer, but it's still very high and will help him as he looks to continue his career at the next level next season. Pezzone plans on trying out for the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League.
And he believes his versatility will be key.
"I don't know if I'll be a pitcher or playing in the field, but I'll play wherever they need me," Pezzone said. "It's nice that I can play all different positions and I think that'll help my chances."
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