West Xtra: Montour 'pipeline' still feeds Point Park
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Glenn Vietmeier often finds himself keeping tabs on the Point Park University baseball season.
The head baseball coach at Montour High School, Vietmeier will check boxscores throughout the season and follow how the Pioneers are doing. At times it might even feel as though he is running a "minor league system" for the Point Park program.
When Montour pitcher Patrick Kennedy signed a letter-of-intent to play baseball at Point Park this past spring, it marked the fifth time the Spartans have sent a player to Point Park in the past seven seasons.
And it just so happens to be at a time of a renaissance of Point Park baseball. The Pioneers returned to the national stage this past season by compiling a 53-11 record and reaching the NAIA World Series. Those 53 wins set a school record, and in the final NAIA baseball top 25 poll, Point Park was ranked No. 6.
Last season Point Park featured sophomore Tom Birko, another Montour graduate batting .322 with 46 runs and 45 RBIs. The 2011 Point Park team that reached the conference championship game featured Birko as well as fellow Montour graduates Bryce Pfeuffer and Frank Marko.
And the pipeline is not just because of a relationship with one head coach. Montour has been sending players to Point Park in the three years that current coach Loren Torres has been on board and it sent players when his predecessor, Al Liberi, was there.
"Point Park is finding a home for Montour kids," Vietmeier said. "Their program is really excelling. The coaches seem to like the home-grown talent in this area. I feel very proud as a program at Montour that our kids are doing something right. The kids are getting looked at by a top-ranked college program. I always keep tabs on how Point Park is doing."
The latest Montour-to-Point Park connection is Kennedy, a two-year starter for Vietmeier at Montour. Kennedy had been a standout second baseman during his early years of playing baseball, but he emerged late in his career as a pitcher and that is what he was recruited to play at Point Park.
Kennedy, a right-hander, is just 5 feet 9 and 175 pounds, hardly the prototype of today's "power pitcher," but his diminutive size didn't scare away Torres.
"We are very glad to have 'PK' join our efforts to compete nationally," Torres said in a news release. "He throws in the mid- to upper-80s [mph] and has command of all his pitches."
What also made him attractice to college programs is that Kennedy shined in the classroom, too. At Montour he maintained a 4.2 grade point average.
"He symbolizes what we consider to be the complete package of student/person/player," Torres said. "A student first, a person of character and a good athlete. We are excited to have him on board next fall and we know that he will impact our pitching staff during his entire career."
Kennedy will join a pitching staff that ranked in the top 10 in the NAIA in team ERA at 2.94 during the past season.
Offensively, the Spartans struggled last season but Kennedy always put his team in a position to win when he was on the mound.
"He really stepped it up on the pitcher's mound," Vietmeier said. "He was a great find for us. He really worked hard and developed into a great pitcher."
Pitching alongside other collegiate pitchers will not be an issue for Kennedy. At Montour he was paired with Sam Mersing, who will be a senior in the fall but already has committed to Pitt.
"Those two were definitely co-aces," Vietmeier said. "They pushed each other in practice. They definitely worked hard and it showed during the season. It was a great 'one-one punch' we had."
First Published August 9, 2012 7:24 am