Bellwood-Antis baseball team set for PIAA Western final

It’s been 14 years since the Bellwood-Antis High School baseball team was at the pinnacle that the 2003 edition of the Blue Devil diamondmen have reached.
In 1989, the names were Blazier and Nagle, Geis and Mirabella, Lamertina and coach Todd Guyer. In 2003, the names are Plummer and Stere, Carlson and Shannon, Miller and coach Steve Conlon.
The 1989 team got the chance to show their stuff in front of local supporters. because of trouble with the field at Shippensburg University, the PIAA championship final was played at Veterans Field in nearby Altoona. The result was an extra inning contest and a tough-luck 1-0 loss to Oley Valley.
This afternoon at 1 p.m., the current edition of the Blue Devils will put their hoipes and dreams on the line in their bid to match the 1989 Bellwood-Antis baseball team. That is the high water mark of B-A baseball. the 2003 squad want to equal those earlier Blue Devils, to perhaps even go one step further to the state championship. This year’s team won the Blair County North Division crown for the third time in four years and is the first Blue Devil squad to win the District VI title and venture into PIAA play since the 1989 team.
The Blue Devils are fueled by a group of seven talented seniors, Ryan Kenawell, Ricky Shanon, Ryan Myers, Zach Stere, Adam Plummer, Nate Carlson and Derrick Miller. These young men have been the nucleus of the 20-4 squad that was forged by fire when they suffered through a three-game losing streak during the last half of the regular season. Since then, the Blue Devils have played perhaps their best ball of the season, putting together a 10-game win streak going into this afternon’s Western final.
The team ERA has been 1.50 in that string of games and Blue Devil pitching has limited the 10 opponents to a .226 batting average. B-A is hitting .334 over the same period, despite facing some of the district and PIAA’s best pitchers in their six playoffs contests.
Zach Stere, a shortstop/pitcher leads the attack for Bellwood-Antis with a .425 average, five home runs, six doubles, 20 RBIs and 15 runs scored. Pitcher/first baseman Adam Plummer is hitting .416 with 28 runs scored, seven doubles, two triples, three homers, a team-high 26 RBIs and has stolen nine bases. Junior catcher Shawn Weiand (.405) and sophomore third baseman Chris Alley (.400) also are also hitting .400 or better. Weiand has scored 24 runs and has seven doubles, four home runs and 19 RBIs from his cleanup spot.
Nate Carlson pitcher/first baseman is hitting .387 with seven doubles. two homers, including a solo shot in the Western semifinal against Eisenhower last Thursday that added an insurance run in a 2-0 Blue Devils win, and 10 RBIs. Centerfielder Ricky Shannon leads off for B-A and is hitting .354 with seven doubles and leads the team with 29 runs scored and 15 stolen bases.
Andy Brisbin, a sophomore second baseman who drove in the winning run against Eisenhower, is batting .324 with 18 runs scored and 11 RBIs. Left fielder Derrick Miller is hitting .312 with 21 runs scored, five doubles, two home runs eight stolen bases and 18 RBIs. Ryan Myers is batting .253 with 15 runs scored with two triples and 10 RBIs.
Myers and Shannon solved two of first-year head coach Steve Conlon’s preseason problems by filling two of the vacent outfield spots. Shannon hasn’t played baseball since teener league and Myers’s only previous high school baseball was a bit of junior varsity experience two years ago. The two have filled the center and right field spots well on defense and both have provided offense as well.
Weiand, Stere, Carlson and Miller all are playing at different positions from last year and all have performed well in their new positions. Weiand was a left fielder, Stere second baseman, Carlson outfielder and Miller was an infileder on the 2002 Bellwood-Antis team that was in the battle for a North Division Blair County League title until the final week of the season and dropped their first playoff game to a strong Bedford team.
Shannon, Myers and Carlson were starters on the B-A basketball team that won the district title and Weiand was the first non-senior reserve to see action.
Chartiers-Houston by contrast is built on underclassmen. They are coached by Dan Alderson and are in the PIAA playoffs for the first time in 24 years. An athletic family, Alderson’s daughter is the star pitcher for the Chartiers-Houston girls softball team that faces District VI champ Northern Cambria at Elderton today in the Western final. Alderson’s wife coached the Mount Lebanon girls softball team that was just eliminated earlier.
Chartiers-Houston, the third place finisher from the WPIAL (District VII) is paced by sophomore right handed pitcher/shortstop Dan Novak and junior lefty Tyler Haught. Novak is 6-2 with an ERA of 1.28 on the mound, while hitting .603 with five homew runs and 32 RBIs on offense. Haught is 6-2 with an ERA of 1.41.
Junior outfielder Justin Benson is hitting .420, sophomore first baseman Andy McIlvaine is hitting .396 and sophomore catcher Brady Yevins is batting .350.
Chartiers-Houston hascompiled a 19-4 record that is the best in school history.