East Xtra: Allderdice blasts its way into City League title game
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Just as it did when it won the City League baseball title the previous four seasons, Allderdice has the look of a championship-caliber team once again this season.
Same story -- diametrical plot.
"It's been different for us," Dragons coach Jon Parker said. "Usually, we've pitched well and played good defense and did enough to win games that way.
"They've flipped the script for us this year. We've hit really well, enough to win. And when we've made too many mistakes in the field or walked too many batters, that's when we've lost."
That hasn't happened too often for Allderdice this season.
The Dragons (17-3) will play Brashear (15-3) for the City League championship today at noon at PNC Park.
Although Allderdice has benefited from strong pitching by senior Kevin Silvio and junior Bryan Pfleger, its offense has been what's been putting up the eye-popping numbers on the road to the title game.
Fourteen times this season, Allderdice has scored at least 10 runs in a game. The Dragons have scored 48 runs in their past four games and have two players hitting better than .500 -- four hitting at least .400.
"I have to say this is the best hitting team I've been on in my four years here," said the star of that offense, senior Blaise Galewski.
Galewski, who's been playing first base this season and batting in the No. 3 spot in the order, hit .526 (33-for-64) during the regular season with a team-high 36 RBIs and 22 runs scored.
"He's really strong," Parker said. "He's not tall, but he's solid. He has a solid frame. I'll be honest with you -- he can hit anywhere. He's as good a No. 3 hitter as we've had here since I've been coaching.
"Sometimes people will say, 'He's [just] a City player,' and he works over the summer so he doesn't get too much of a chance to play summer ball or on those travel teams. But he's got all-fields power, and he's fast, too."
"I'm really happy with the fact that I'm having one of my best years," Galewski said. "But a lot of players on our team have had good years. Mainly, I'm just satisfied with our whole team and the way they're contributing and doing well this year."
That's particularly true for junior Justin Zak. A shortstop who hits No. 5 in the order, Zak batted .500 (29-for-58) with 28 RBIs and 22 runs during the regular season.
Heading into the postseason, Parker called Zak "probably our hottest hitter."
"He has intelligent at-bats," Parker said. "That's probably the key throughout the lineup -- the approach we've taken to at-bats from top to bottom. When we've hit well, it's because we're taking the right approach at the plate."
That's a trait shared by many of the Dragons' hitters, Parker said, and it's no small reason why they've scored so many runs.
Cleanup hitter Keyshawn D'Orso, a junior outfielder, has been particularly adept at drawing walks. Second baseman Anthony Maggio -- one of the team's senior leaders -- works the count regularly. Parker referenced some of Maggio's at bats that have gone 12 to 15 pitches.
"We're definitely very selective," Galewski said. "We don't swing at a lot of bad pitches. We wait to hit our pitch and don't let the pitcher beat us."
Parker attributed some of that patient approach to the tutelage of hitting coach Jan Rihs. Parker also credited assistant Brad Hoffer for some of Allderdice's success.
Hoffer's twin sons are on-field manifestations of the Dragons' winning ways. Third baseman Braden fits the role of the No. 2 hitter in the order perfectly. A junior, he led the team in runs during the regular season with 29. Catcher Brendan is in more of run-producing role.
Pfleger -- an outfielder when he's not pitching -- has had some big games offensively for the Dragons.
Allderdice also has a prototypical leadoff hitter in freshman outfielder Demetrius Haskins. Sophomore outfielder Max Kennedy is capable of filling that role as well but instead hits at the bottom of the order in an attempt to create more base-runners for the players at the top of the order.
"We're more happy with this regular season than any we've had in the past," said Parker, who is in his fifth season with the Dragons program, fourth as head coach.
Allderdice hopes it's just as pleased with its postseason.
First Published May 24, 2012 12:00 am