Thursday, May 15, 2008

Response to comment

A Varsity Letters blogger named Ronnie asked if I could designate some standouts from the local 2008 WPIAL baseball season. I'll try my best.

Player of the Year
I'm leaning toward Jordan Jankowski of Peters Township but Andy Petras of Chartiers-Houston is having a great year.

Coach of the Year
I know there's a lot of poo-pooing the smaller classifications on this board but no coach has his players more prepared than Dave Bates at Carmichaels. You have to beat the Mikes to beat them. They never lose games because of mistakes and that is a direct attribute of coaching.

Comeback Player of the Year
Charles Murphy of Canon-McMillan. Big Macs coach Steve Bucci credits Murphy, who did not play his junior year, as a key component to the section championship.

Game of the Year
I hope the game of the year comes in the postseason. As for the regular season:
Avella 7, Chartiers-Houston 6 on Wednesday, May 7
The Eagles lost to the Section 2-A champions on back-to-back days by a combined score of 17-4. In the regular season finale, playoff-bound Avella kept Chartiers-Houston from an unbeaten record in section play.

Pitcher of the Year
Another category with many worthy candidates but I have to go with Carmichaels junior lefty Joby Lapkowicz. Every time I see this kid pitch, it's a treat and I believe he'd be the No. 1 guy at most high schools in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania.


Anonymous said...

Ronnie Hayden with the assist on the Kovak post!!

DreFan said...

Hey nice work there ronnie. Looking forward to seeing you represent at the playoffs.

O-R Supporter said...

Mike Kovak--- Thank you very much for your leading candidates amongst the "ronnie" list. Having enjoyed your post on those categories thoroughly, I think we should add in a couple more.

1. Play of the year?
2. Best Defensive Player?
3. Story of the year?
4. Interview of the year?
5. Strangest Thing of the year?

My opinions are:
1. The play of the year was DJ Michalski's diving stop of a rocket grounder in the top of the 6th against Bethel Park that saved the game for CM during the team's second meeting of the year.

2. Best defensive player goes to Alex Tarr and Eric Isler. Both played CF for Bethel and Mt. Lebo respectively and both made some unbelievable plays. What really clinches it for me is that they make the spectacular look routine and glide effortlessly across the OF.

3. Story of the year goes to John Challis from Freedom. What a fine young man and a brave battle he has fought. He is a true hero! The "local" story of the year has to be the CM baseball team taking the section when most media outlets had them picked 4th or 5th at best in a loaded section. Also in the running were Charles Murphy (comeback player of the year) and the Peters girls softball team who really did well after losing their star pitcher.

4. Since I didn't interview anyone, I really don't have a call here. I have read some excellent quotes from coaches and players, but I will leave this to the experts to decide.

5. The strangest thing of the year for me was all of the discussion about player nicknames on this blog. From Mike "Turtle D" Toward to Jordan "chocolate truffles" jankowski, many were covered- few were explained.

Thank you for list #1 Mike, I'm looking forward to a second list. I love reflecting on what has been a wonderful season for washington county baseball!

brian said...

Ronnie Hayden, practically a celeb now...

Anonymous said...

The Play of the year was definitely the unassisted triple play turned by Mike Ganley 2B of Bethel Park against Peters to preserve a win. Honorable Mention: Phil Staab's game winning double to give CM the series sweep over Bethel Park on May 5.

The Best Defensive Player was Pat Gallagher OF Peters Twp. Time after time Pat showed that he is the heart and soul of this ball club. I have never seen a better defensive player at the high school level. Honorable Mention: Casey Del Percio P Bethel Park. He may not look like much of an athlete but he is the Greg Maddux of high school pitchers in terms of his fielding ability.

The story of the year was the Upper St. Clair team. Losing their longtime field general Jerry Malarkey to medical problems would have been enough to sink any ship. But USC rallied around their fallen leader and put themselves in a position to make the playoffs going into the last day of the season. Here's to Jerry, wishing you a healthy recovery. Honorable Mention: Chartiers-Houston. Not too often a single-A team can beat a AAAA team, especially when that team is the Section 3-AAAA Champs. Andy Petras no-hitting CM in an exhibition game is the stuff that future major leaguers are made of.

Interview of the year?

The strangest thing of the year was Mt. Lebanon missing out on the playoffs again via the tiebreaker. Two years in a row that Pat "Mr. Wpial Gold" McCloskey has failed to make the playoffs. He is arguably the best coach in the entire Wpial and for him not to make the playoffs in back-to-back years is a crime. Honorable Mention: The white sunglasses worn by the CM guy. I think this one speaks for itself.

Brian said...

When did Petras no-hit CM?

the commish said...

Mike I'd go with Andy Petras as player of the year. He'd put up the same numbers in any classification. Chocolate Truffles has not lived up to last season so I find it hard to give him the award and he has lacked the team success of Petras. My vote would go: 1. Petras 2. Dittmar 3. Chocolate Truffles

Coach of the year I would lean towards Steve Bucci. As evidenced by your blog, he is clearly working in hostile terrain and has exceeded all expectations at what was called the worst job in the wpial at the turn of the century. My top three in order would be 1. Bucci 2. Levi at Trinity and 3. Rocco at Wash High

Comeback Player of the year has me leaning towards Pat Gallagher. A part-timer last year he has been the glue all year for PT and it was never proven better than during their run to qualify for the playoffs. My vote would go 1. Gallagher 2. Charles Murphy 3. Chris Dittmar

Game of the year no doubt was Trinity vs Wash High. A great rivalry. I'd go 1. Trinity-wash high 2. Peters vs CM (game 1) 3. C-H vs avella

Pitcher of the year for me was Schroeder from Trinity. He just won a huge playoff game today and shut down all comers during the season. My top three 1. Schroeder 2. Merich 3. Dionte Walker (10 year anniversary : ) )

the commish said...

I heard that Petras did it during a scrimmage between the teams. That has been tossed around the community. I wasn't the one that posted it, but that has been floated around.

brian said...



I dont understand? Thats downright crazy! Chris is a hell of a player but...

Brian said...

Also, i agree Pat Gallagher has player well this yr, but he played fine last year too. The comeback player of the year is Charles Murphy's category. That award was set up.... for him. Pat Gallagher played last year and he played fine, especially in that WPIAL championship game that everyone remembers him from. Murphy hasnt played baseball since SuperColt during the summer of 06...

hernn said...

I agree with the commish brian. dittmar is more valuable to his team than jj is to his. thats how i evaluate my player of the year. dittmar has led his team to a better record and has really done more in the teams wins than jj. plus dittmar did this all while nursing many injuries. leg, knee, other leg, arm, he has had them all. but he played through them. thats called leadership. thats called character. two traits that jj doesnt have. the best jj could do is tell joe maize that he didnt want to pitch early in the season because it might ruin the amount of money he'd get out of miami of ohio. thats not the kind of thing a winner/player of the year would do. i know you are going to say the numbers might be better for jj but id be shocked if dittmar didnt have a .400 plus average at least 5 homers and over 40 rbis + runs scored. not too shabby. jj has had another terrific season and is a great ballplayer but when you are the big gun for the preseason #1 team, your team fails to live up to those expecatations, and your own personal stats are weaker than they were the previous year i just don't see how you can give that individual the player of the year.

i doubt you've considered any of these things brian.

kevin_jacobsen said...

I think one of the main reasons, perhaps the only one, why Jankowski hasn't produced like in years past is that teams are afraid to pitch to him, and so they don't. He was intentionally walked by C-M in the sixth inning of a 10-1 game, and I was told that night that Bethel Park intentionally walked JJ four times with no one on base earlier in the year. If you take that into consideration, that might add to his credentials for player of the year and could explain his lowered output.

And this isn't taking anything away from Petras. He's a great player too and certainly one of the biggest reasons why C-H has performed so well to date.

As for lacking team success, I don't think that should come into play when you determine best player. MVP, maybe, but not best overall player. Plus the playoffs still need to be played out. PT might win the WPIAL again and C-H could get upset in the first round.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing at all against Petras, and he's definitely had a year to remember, but to say he'd put up the same numbers in any classification is downright nonsense.

Anonymous said...

J.J. is the Barry Bonds of the WPIAL minus all the drama. No one pitches to this guy.

Brian said...

I dont see what playing hurt has to do with player of ther year? Youre also losing me on the "valuable" thing. While the intial post mentions NOTHING about value to the team, i am still going to disagree with you and say JJ is more valuable to PT than Ditty to CM.
You mention personality traits because you know Dittmar, but i don't know how well you know JJ. Perhaps he carries a little leadership in him too? I look at Rider as the leader that team, but maybe JJ is too..
JJ's numbers are through the roof. BA .569 9Hrs, 32RBI's He's a star. JJ's on-base% is insane. (I'm guessing in the .750 range)You tell me thats not valuable to a team.

He puts fear into coaches like few in WPIAL ever have. His pitching numbers are pretty darn good too. 4-0 with 50K's. I know you don't like PT, or JJ but don't let your biases block your intelligence.

PT didnt win the section last yr either, so don't say theyve underachieved just yet. Playoffs are where it matters.

hernn said...

i am peters born and raised brian. so not only do i know jj well but i also root for peters. cm is far from my favorite team.

brian said...

thanks for responding to all the important things in my post herrn. Thanks for showing me how JJ is not even the runnerup for player of the year...

Brian said...

If i may add hernn... JJ played with probably the biggest target on his back out of anyone in the WPIAl and still performed outstanding. Coaches prepared just for him. Coaches said, we will not get beat by HIM. That doesn't happen too often in high school baseball. He had the entire section, if not all of AAAA coming for him. Try having the patience at the plate knowing you are gonna see 4 pitches and then go to first base.. Whether hes is courageous or not, the kid is one of the best hitters i've ever seen in high school baseball. He's not quite on the same level as Neil Walker especially athletically, but he's pretty darn good.

Leo said...

Brian seeing as how you only go back to Neil Walker I am curious to know how many hitters you've actually seen in high school. Neil was the class of 2004 and don't get me wrong i'm not trying to insult you or anything but does your reference base go back as far as guys like Vee Hightower from Mt. Lebo, Kevin Orie from USC, Sean Casey from USC? Are you more recent like the Kail boys from Baldwin and Josh Wilson from Mt. Lebo? Or are you a 21st century guy exclusively (limited by the fact that you may be only a teenager yourself)? JJ clearly belongs in the discussion but it is very difficult to really compare Era's of high school baseball. I've been blessed to see many, many great hitters come through the Wpial, but personally I would not be able to compare Kevin Orie to John Henry Kail for example. I was just wondering what your reference base was and also if you had any thoughts on possible comparisons between the ages.

leo said...

Brian I also may add please try to keep the peace here. You seem to be a little frustrated with hernn but from my view in the cheap seats you were the one that called him/her out and he responded to your false accusations. Yet you still decided to create further tension by mocking him/her. I think this board should be used for more constructive sports talk than you attempting to intimidate and bully other posters into immature feats of trivial banter. Hernn put you in your place and I know that might sting a little but get over it and move on. Take the high road.

Hernn as for you, you did not squash brian's point but instead decided to focus on the most personal of his statements towards you. You also need to take the high road. The problem with people like you and brian is that you both use this blog as a tool to exercise your testosterone and/or estrogen in the most cowardly way. What ever happened to some good old fashioned chivalry? I guess it is too much to expect a blog that has real, thought-provoking comments from its readers. Brian and Hernn you are not the only two that have consistently posted these types of messages, but I felt the need to say something in the hopes of enacting change and peace on the varsity letters.

Brian said...


1. Sorry, I do feel like you are trying to insult my intelligence.

2. Neil Walker has little to do with anything. I was using a name i felt would be easily recognized rather than some 35+ yr old Orie. Here, edit out Walker and put in God(probably older than most of the ppl here) instead for my last post. I think it still carries close to the same meaning.

3. I wasn't doing much a comparison, and I am very much against comparing through the ages because it is impossible.

4. My point prior to this post was JJ was one of the top 2 local players this year.

Btw, why did you only mention guys from the current section? Have you had the luxory of playing,coaching for or against or even umping any of these players?

If i'm not mistaken
Central Catholic had a player get drafted fairly high a little bit back i think 02 or 03. And NA had 2 guys drafted high in '04 .(one was a pitcher tho Dobies?) Of course there have been many others taken fairly recently in some of the later rounds.

Brian said...

I must agree with your second post leo. My apologies.

brian said...


While this is perhaps a bit childish and he said she said, i just want facts to be facts...

You mentioned me as calling hernn out initially, perhaps your view in the cheap seats wasnt as good as you had thought... I do believe the log that started the fire came a post before, or more specifically the last sentence. Then i sprkinled on the $3.79 per gallon gasoline.

meh, oh well.

Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd put this out there in case anyone didn't get a chance to read it. JJ is likely the all-time HR leader in the WPIAL, hitting 8 more than Kail from Baldwin.

Brian said...

you beat me to it anonymous...

Anonymous said...

I do not know how you are comparing Dittmar to Jankowski. I personally am not a fan of Jankowski but the stats say it all. Dittmar doesnt even have the best stats on the team and his batting average is over .100 points lower than Jankowski. Then you go into RBI and HR in which Dittmar doesn't win in either of those categories. So before you call Dittmar player of the year, why don't you see if he is even the best player on the team.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous i've read both your post and the one saying that dittmar should be p.o.y. over jj. dittmar may not have the best stats on his team but his true value to the team was never more evident than last year when he got injured and missed the last 7 games. the cm offense wasnt the same without him and the person that you allude to (but do not mention) matt pierpont would not be able to put up the same types of numbers without dittmar there to set the table for him. How do I know this? Well we have a whole sample of games from last year with dittmar out and pierpont unfortunately wasnt able to produce at the same level without dittmar. Both dittmar and pierpont are great players, but at this point I'd say that it is dittmar that is the straw that stirs canon-macs offensive drink not pierpont. You raise other issues in your post and rightfully so, but I do not want to speak for the other individual so please forgive me for not addressing those as well. Just wanted to throw my 2 cents into the forum.

Speaking of JJ (chocolate truffles as mike kovak likes to call him), is it possible that he could be on track to become one of the biggest post-high school busts ever from the wpial? I'm not saying he is or isn't, but it does a take a strong head on top of strong shoulders to be able to handle the hype and produce. Brian mentioned Neil Walker and he so far has fit the mold of a success story. But what about that skruggs boy i think 2 years ago? In college I think he has 4 at bats? Weren't the papers all proclaiming him the next Neil Walker? I wasn't lucky enough to see Walker or Scruggs play so if anyone did and has an opinion on each that i would love to read it. Will Chocolate Truffles be the next Neil Walker or will he be the next skruggs or will he be somewhere in the middle? thanks.

Anonymous said...

Most of the argument between Dittmar and JJ has involved their hitting statistics. Not only is JJ most likely the best hitter in the WPIAL, but he is also, if not number one, one of the best pitchers in the WPIAL. He is easily better on the hill than Dittmar, as well as at the plate. That doesn't take anything at all away from Dittmar at all; he's just being put up against a heck of a ball-player.

Brian said...

As you said, I mentioned Walker, i did not compare. Please remember this.

I agree Dittmar is probably the most valuable player to CM, but not for the reasons that you have stated. It has nothing to do with last year. It has nothing to do with Pierponts number in Dittys absence compaired to when he was there. Obviously when a 3 yr starter is hurt and was hitting very well before you, your numbers probably are going to drop. But by this theory, you are saying that Dittmar was more valuable than say Brian Muransky... Also, we have not seen Dittmar's production in a Pierpont absence...

Dittmar is a heck of a player and is very knowledgable about the game of baseball. He hustles and makes plays that others give up on.

Dittmar and Pierpont are both great players and large pieces of Cm's success, but as i mentioned before, i just don't think they are quite at the same level as JJ. This is no knock because quite frankly, few in the WPIAL are.

Kratzsky said...

Just started reading this thread and a couple of questions.

1. Who is Ronnie Hayden? Any relation to the CM second baseman?

2. Does anyone have any credible information regarding the Dittmar boys injuries going into the CM playoff game? I know he was banged up a lot according to the MSA broadcasters.

3. Any word on the pitching plans for CM against Shaler? It seems that they've been using multiple guys to get the job done (again at least according to MSA).

4. What ever happened to the CM catcher from last season? Zofchek? I know he was at Waynesburg and he was playing early in the season, but then his stats never changed. Injury? Transfer? ??

5. CM's current senior class used to have a left-handed pitcher named Mish, did he not come out for the team this year? I always remember him playing with dittmar, douglas, murphy, etc. He was a good ball player and I just hope that he didn't have an injury or academic problems or something like that derail what could have been a wonderful senior year.

kratzsky said...

oops left one question out...

6. Last year I was a little lost at a local function and I bumped into a young man that turns out played for the baseball team at CM. To make a long story short, he helped me get things together and I never got a chance to properly thank him. I know his first name was either Brad or Brian. As for his last name, it started with a K or a C. Kritz? Anyways, thank you brad/brian K/C Kritz you are a true gentleman

sobillsman said...

kratzsky i will attempt to answer your questions

1. Ronnie Hayden is the young man's father and also quite the amateur bowler.

2. Dittmar is still dinged up a bit, but the almost two week layoff between games has allowed him to heal. From what I'm told, he's going to be 90-95% at game time.

3. No word on the pitching plans. I've heard Dittmar. I've heard Douglas. I've heard Pierpont. Would not be surprised to see all three used tomorrow.

4. Derek ZofchAk unfortunately was injured when he was hit by a pitch in the head during the Waynesburg spring trip to Phoenix. I believe he asked for and was granted a medical hardship and will return to action next year as a redshirt freshman. Just glad to see the young man is ok.

5. Mike Mish was the same age as those kids you mentioned, but unfortunately he enrolled in school a tad early as a youngster and actually was a senior last year. He just completed his freshman year of college.

6. There were two Brian's in the CM program last year. Brian Muransky and Brian Kretz. Judging by the info you gave, I'd say you meant Brian Kretz-- Left-handed hitter, right-handed thrower, and outfielder deluxe. He is a very well-mannered kid and the act of kindness definitely fits his personality. Coincidentally he is known as quite possibly the biggest CM fan on the planet and may even be a regular here in blogsville. I haven't seen him since last spring but if I do see him kratzsky i will tell him you said thanks.

Brian said...

Didnt really mean to sound snippy in last post...
While i agree dittmar was heavily missed during that stretch of last season, i don't know that really shows his true value to the team this year. I personally think his value extends far beyond just the production of him and his teammates.