Riverview baseball team wants more after title game

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Monday, March 21, 2022 | 5:04 p.m.


Even though Wild Things Park in Washington is 44 miles away, the Riverview baseball team wants to spend as much time as possible at this facility.

The Raiders made an unexpected run to the WPIAL Class A title match last season at Wild Things Park, losing to Union.

Riverview returned there last week for a scrimmage against Penn Hills.

Now, the Raiders are hoping to make a return to this year’s WPIAL title game shortly after Memorial Day.

Riverview went 7-3 in Section 3-A last year, 11-8 overall. It also marked the Raiders’ first appearance in a WPIAL title game since 2001, when they lost to California.

WPIAL baseball fans noticed that Riverview upset Greensburg Central Catholic in the quarterfinals and beat Jefferson-Morgan the next day to earn the title berth.

“I think those kids surprised themselves,” Raiders coach Bill Gras said of the playoff series that started with a win over Avella. “Winning the first game and then winning the second and the kids thought maybe we could do it. Some of the returning players told me that we didn’t think we were too good last year, and then we started winning and we kind of woke up and we’re ready to play this year.

Receiver Taylor Zellefrow, the team’s vocal leader, called the run “incredible.”

“We said at the start of the year that I don’t think we all thought it would be real, but it turned out to be real,” the senior receiver said. “It was the best moment of our lives. Everyone was on board, screaming at the top of their lungs, kicking the shit out of the ball, it was awesome.

Now everyone knows how good the team is.

Said Gras: “It’s my job now to keep these guys down in the sense that we now have a target on our backs. We’re not going to surprise anyone. They all come for you, focusing a little harder and giving you their best.

Riverview has lost four starters as of 2021, including all three outfielders and third baseman Ryan Aber.

Back in the fold are pitchers Vince Shook, Enzo Lio, John Patsey and Ben Hower. They will throw to catcher Zellefrow.

“We just have to tame it now,” Zellefrow said of the team’s high expectations. “I think we know too much now. We have to go out and play our best baseball without thinking about it.

The Raiders have 22 on their roster, a strong turnout for a Class A school.

As fifth-year coach Gras searches for a new third baseman when Shook throws, Luke Migely returns to shortstop and Jack Loughran to second base. Lio and Cam Shane will once again share duties at first base.

“We have competition for our outfield spots, so that pushes them, Gras said. “It makes us better as a team.”

The assistants for the second straight year are pitching coach Trevor Nelson and outfield coach Justin Menke.

The Raiders open the season with Carlynton on Friday, and Division 3-A begins with St. Joseph at home on April 4. Other section opponents are Springdale, Leechburg, Eden Christian and Sewickley Academy.

Gras has bolstered the non-section program to include Valley, Shaler Area, Highlands and Apollo-Ridge.

Riverview will transition to Class 2A baseball for the 2023 and 24 seasons.

Tags: Riverview

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