South Fayette completes belated opener
South Fayette coach James Barton was determined to take the field Monday, but wasn’t certain how long his Lions would stay.
They were expecting a rematch with their toughest opponent: the weather. In recent weeks, playing at least one inning would be a moral victory.
“It’s been rough for the kids, and it’s been rough for me,” said Barton, whose players waited through two weeks of rain delays before finally playing their season opener yesterday: South Fayette beat Freedom, 4-2.
“You can only practice so much,” said Barton, who has scheduled four more games in the next five days — weather permitting.
South Fayette was the last of the WPIAL’s 127 baseball teams to take the field for a season that began March 25. But like South Fayette, most teams have been slowed by rain and muddy fields.
Before yesterday, there still were 10 teams that had played only one game, and another 33 had played just two.
“It’s been frustrating, because we’ve been stuck in the gym,” said Uniontown coach Scott Hruby, whose team has played only once, an 8-2 loss to Yough. Yesterday’s game against Ringgold was rained out.
Hruby said Uniontown will play 19 games in 26 days starting Wednesday — a grind many teams will endure to finish their schedules by May 11, the last day scheduled for section games.
“It’s going to be nonstop,” Hruby said. “If we get anymore rain, we’re probably going to have to play a few doubleheaders at the end of the year.”
Moon coach Dom Santeufemio and star shortstop Brett Hoffman were ejected from Saturday’s loss at Central Valley — actions that both said were unwarranted. As a result, both served one-game suspension during Monday’s 15-7 loss to Hopewell.
“The umpire said I swore at him, but I didn’t,” said Hoffman, who was called out on a pitch he and Santeufemio considered high and inside. “I told him (the pitch) would have hit me if I hadn’t moved.”
Hoffman said his parents, who were critical of the strike call from the stands, also were told by the umpire to leave the area. Santeufemio, who had been ejected just once before, said he disagrees with the umpire’s decisions. But after serving the suspension, Santeufemio was ready to move forward.
“You can’t say anything about it,” he said. “You just have to live with it.”
When only two players arrived for practice last week, coach Dana Williams knew there was no choice: Wilkinsburg won’t field a baseball team.
“My first year, we had a lot of participation,” said Williams, a fourth-year coach. “It just kind of went downhill from there.”
The team will forfeit its 14-game schedule in Section 4-AA.
The program’s key problem is that Wilkinsburg lacks a team for those in seventh and eighth grade, Williams said, meaning there’s a two-year gap between playing youth baseball and joining the high school team.
“They need to get that going,” Williams said, “and then put the varsity in.”
It took four games, but finally somebody scored a run against Serra Catholic, the No. 1-ranked team in Class A. The defending WPIAL champions have outscored their first four opponents, 43-1.
— Longtime Riverside coach Dan Oliastro won his 500th game Thursday with a 4-0 victory over Beaver Falls. Oliastro has coached the Panthers for 43 seasons and won two state titles.
— South Park coach Steve Bucci won his 200th game during the team’s trip to South Carolina. Bucci, who coached South Park from 2000-06, returned this season. He previously coached at Serra Catholic and Canon-McMillan.