Monroeville American Legion team is young, promising
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One run. That was what ended a deep postseason run by the Monroeville American Legion baseball team last year.
Monroeville went 15-3 to finish second behind Shaler in Allegheny East League play, and advanced to the county playoff bracket before being ousted by Uniontown, 9-8, in the Region 6 playoffs.
"One run," coach Bill Segar said. "When you look back at the number of teams that advance to the playoffs, we know we had a good team because we were good enough to make regionals."
Entering his 12th season managing Post 820, Segar lost six players from his 2011 team and expects a rebuilding-type of campaign.
Monroeville started the season with a 3-2 record, earning two victories against Ninth Ward and one against Penn Hills.
"We're younger and trying to build ourselves up," Segar said. "We're going to struggle a little more to get wins, but we're still going to have a solid team.
"We don't have the experienced players that we had last year, so that means it's going to be tougher to win those tight games."
Casey Kern, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-handed pitcher/first baseman, has returned as the staff ace and one of the team's top hitters. A 2011 Gateway High graduate, Kern recently finished his freshman season at Penn State-Behrend.
Right-handed pitcher/center fielder David Folkmire and left-handed pitcher Quintin DiLucente also have returned, providing depth to the pitching staff.
Second baseman Dante DiMatteo, third baseman Michael Walton, shortstop Matthew Whelan, infielder Michael Corbett and right fielder Kristian Seneca played for Segar last year and are starters this season.
"We felt we had a good core of players coming back to be able to have a good season," Segar said. "Still, we've been a little erratic.
"It's a concern, but we'll continue to work at it and try to figure it out."
Segar, though, has been pleased with the addition of four newcomers: pitcher/second baseman Dan Toner, left fielder Ryan Tarczy, right fielder Rick Buxter and catcher Jesse Rossi.
Except for Kern and Buxter, a rising senior at Central Catholic, the majority of Segar's players are on the Gateway baseball team.
Gateway finished third in Section 4-AAAA with a 7-5 record this past season. The Gators lost to North Allegheny in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs to finish 9-10 overall.
"They can work together because they're familiar with each other," Segar said. "I think that's a plus.
"A lot of the guys didn't necessarily play much varsity this past year, but they still played together. That can only help us get better together."
Monroeville competes in the Allegheny East League against Plum, Penn Hills, Shaler, Springdale, Swissvale and Ninth Ward. The league was originally set for 10 teams, but Riverview, White Oak and West Deer dropped their teams before the start of the season.
"The toughest teams are Plum, Springdale and Shaler," Segar said. "We haven't seen everyone, but from what I've heard, Plum and Shaler are doing well.
"We know this is a well-balanced league, but those three teams are going to be tough to compete against. All four of us have been battling for the top spot in the league the past few years. I expect the same this year."
Segar understands certain adjustments must be made before his team is able to compete this season.
"We have to become more consistent with our hitting and our pitching can't allow as many walks [as they have]," Segar said. "We've had games where walks and errors just killed us.
"We have to get our fundamentals straightened out, resolve our issues and play a lot more consistent."
First Published June 21, 2012 12:00 am