West Xtra: West Allegheny deals with some challenges
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It has one of the youngest and smallest rosters in district American Legion baseball, but when playoff pairings are announced, the West Allegheny team hopes you can't spell the Allegheny West playoffs without West Allegheny.
West Allegheny wrapped up its regular season with an 8-9 record and now awaits its fate as the rest of the seven-team league finishes its regular season by this evening.
With only two 19 year olds and a gameday roster of only about 10 players on average, the West Allegheny team overachieved to even be in this spot.
There is a pair of 15 year olds and the majority of the team is 16 and 17 year olds.
With six starters from the West Allegheny High School varsity team on the Legion team to start the summer, manager Fred Lutz's squad got off to a hot start blowing out its first two opponents, but other summer commitments made getting the entire 18-player roster together for games a challenge.
Lutz coaches the West Allegheny junior varisty team so he is familiar with his players.
"I had some pretty good pitching and we did come through with clutch hitting," Lutz said. "We relied on a lot of 'small ball,' which seemed to work really well."
Rising junior Alec Palmer was one of the top pitchers on the staff. Palmer pitched for the WA junior varsity team in the spring with Lutz.
"He has been really tough," Lutz said. "He has a good curveball and good location. He did not have the fastest arm but he could hit his spots. He was definitely one of our aces."
Another top pitcher was Aaron Gardocki, who recently graduated from West Allegheny. He will pitch at Waynesburg University next year.
"He has been pretty dominant," Lutz said.
Rising senior Brendan Scanlon also was counted on to pitch some innings.
"He is another kid who doesn't overpower you but he has a great curveball and he hits his location. Those are my top three pitchers right there," Lutz said.
Offensively, center fielder Tony Midgley, was a spark plug leading off the lineup. He will be a senior in the fall at West Allegheny.
"He is very fast and has probably the best arm in the West Allegheny program," Lutz said of Midgley. "He has great range in the outfield and he is a line-drive hitter. We would get him on and get him to steal [bases]."
If Midgley did not steal a base, he could always count on at least getting moved over by rising sophomore, catcher Brandon Pouch. Batting left handed, Pouch made things tough on a pitcher especially if Midgley was on base.
"[Pounch] made it easy for Midgley to steal," Lutz said. "And he could bunt for base hits. He was a heck of a bunter and a good slap hitter -- he puts the ball in play."
Batting third is Aaron Gardocki's twin brother, Nick. He started in the outfield.
When he's not pitching, Palmer could play in left field or at third base, Aaron Gardocki could play outfield or first base and Scanlon would play second or third base.
Lutz's son, Reid, a rising sophomore, played mostly right field. Joe Bucci, a 19 year old, batted in the sixth spot and was a top RBI guy in the lineup. Bucci also had the ability to play multiple positions in the infield.
First Published July 12, 2012 12:00 am