You might say Kennedy Catholic High’s baseball team is playin’ with house money. With a trio of playoff triumphs – including the District 10 Class 1A championship and the PIAA opener – the energized Golden Eagles are enjoying the ride, seemingly impervious to postseason pressure.
“Our goal from day one was, ‘All right, we’re gonna get D-10; we’re gonna end the drought,’ and we did that. After that, just play with confidence, do what we do, and,” explained senior standout Cody May, who added, “I think we’re lookin’ to be playin’ for another week or two.”
Kennedy Catholic (10-10) entertains Eden Christian (18-5) in a quarterfinal-round game today at 2 p.m. at Slippery Rock University’s Jack Critchfield Park, which has become the Golden Eagles’ personal playoff playground.
In a 6-1 opening-round state tournament win May mustered a complete-game, 4-hit pitching performance as the Golden Eagles eliminated WPIAL runner-up Riverside. May maneuvered through a 23-pitch 1st frame, finishing with 101 pitches, 68 strikes.
“In the fourth inning I noticed my back was a little bit sore. I think I pulled something,” May admitted. “There’s a difference between hurt ... injured ... pain. I was just a little sore, so I knew I could work through it so I pushed through. I knew my team needed me, and I just wanted to be there for them ‘cause I know they’d do the same for me.”
In that win Stargell Fuhr finished with 2 hits including a double, scored once and drove in a run while alternating both corner outfield posts.
“It wasn’t just me,” Fuhr emphasized. “Everybody here came to hit ... we were all hittin’, we were all runnin’ ... defense was doin’ great ... pitching, phenomenal – one run through seven innings, complete game. I personally did pretty well. I hit pretty well, but I think everybody else did, too.”
May, Santino Multari and Remington Hart had 2 hits each and drove in runs, while Tommy Malvar, Dom Rapp and Cord Pocza produced hits.
Head Coach Steve Pinney has navigated a relatively small squad, so Fuhr’s versatility has proven invaluable. He also pitches, closing out KC’s D-10 title tilt triumph over Rocky Grove.
Shifting from right to left field, Fuhr said, “That’s fine by me. It’s outfield, I can do it. I’ll do center, too, if you want me to. ... I’m fine with starting (pitching), and I can come in relief in tight games and close ‘em out. Anything’s fine with me.”
If KC continues postseason play it will have to win over the Warriors of Coach Steve Good. The WPIAL’s 3rd-place finisher, Eden eliminated DuBois Central Catholic in its 1st-round PIAA playoff game.
Eden Christian crushes the ball, led by senior shortstop Luke Vitrone (.484, 31 runs, 30 hits – including 7 doubles, 7 triples and 2 home runs – good for 29 RBIs).
Other Warriors wagging big bats (according to MaxPreps) include 3rd baseman David Kelly (.424, 25 runs, 30 RBIs on 25 hits, including 8 doubles); 1st baseman Andrew Prouty (.431. 19 runs, 25 hits including 3 doubles, a triple and a homer, 23 RBIs); Brian Feldman (.394, 35 runs, 26 hits including 10 doubles, 23 RBIs); DH/catcher Roberto Farfan (19 runs, 14 RBIs on 16 hits, 11 stolen bases); outfielder Jared Bees (.345, 26 runs, 20 hits including 7 doubles, 17 RBIs, 14 steals); Eli Szenyeri (.419, 18 hits including 7 doubles, 16 RBIs), and utilityman Raymond Stierer (.320, 28 runs).
Logan McNellis (3-0, 1.12 ERA, 77 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 37 1/3 innings) has been the Warriors’ workhorse on the mound, complemented by Jacob Fisher (4-0, 0.97, 44 KOs in 36 innings).
Reflecting on the Golden Eagles’ success, Fuhr said, “This is the first time in thirty-one years that Kennedy has won the District 10 championship. So to come in here, first year, and be a part of that, it’s a great feeling, great energy. It’s just really great, all around! I don’t even know the last time that was done, if ever (a KC PIAA playoff win). I haven’t looked at that one.
“But it’s feeling great! We’re rolling into the Elite Eight, and I like our chances here,” added Fuhr, who easily explained his unique first name
“My parents are real Pirates’ fans, and they decided to name me after Willie Stargell. All my siblings, too, they’ve all got sports names,” he related. “My little brother, his name is Hart, for the Hart Trophy in hockey ... my other little brother, his name’s Hobbs, for Roy Hobbs out of the movie ‘The Natural’ ... and my little sister’s name is ‘Mazzie,’ like Bill Mazeroski.”
Obviously having previously explained this, an amused Fuhr paused for effect, before concluding, “I think I’ve got the best one, but don’t tell them that.”
Note: Neither KC or Eden Christian is ranked in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s state baseball rankings. The top 5 are Delco Christian, St. John Neumann, Tri-Valley, Union, and Juniata Valley. ... Kennedy Catholic’s last PIAA playoff win was in 1989. The Golden Eagles won the District 10 Class AA championship that year and beat D-9 champ Ridgway, 15-7, in the 1st round at Showers Field in DuBois. The Golden Eagles then lost to D-7 champ Center, 10-2, in the quarterfinals at Pullmark Park in Butler. ... KC also won the D-10 AA crown in 1990, but fell to D-9 champ DuBois Central Christian, 1-0, in 8 innings in the 1st round at Slippery Rock University’s Rose Field.