PAHS 2009 baseball preview

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
April 9, 2009

The Port Allegany High School baseball team got off to a torrid start in the first seven days of the 2009 season, averaging 10 runs per game while allowing just three in their 3-0 start. First-year head coach Nate Zitnik, who takes over the Gators from Bob Haskins after serving as an assistant in the program, couldn’t be more pleased with the early results.

“I told the guys I was happy with pitching, defense, offense – all the way around,” Zitnik said last Thursday, following a 15-3 four-inning win over Northern Potter. “We’ve got some tough games coming up, so it was good to get everyone some playing time. But we’re going to see what kind of team we have in the next couple of weeks.”

Zitnik is counting on senior Mark Larson, “a great pitcher,” to be his workhorse on the mound. Larson and sophomore Camrin Stuckey combined to fan 17 batters and allow just one hit in the team’s season-opening 8-1 victory at Otto-Eldred last Tuesday, and notched 10 more strikeouts against Kane on Monday to help push Port by the Wolves, the No. 3 seed in last year’s district playoffs, by a 7-5 final score.

The Gators’ rotation may go three deep, as Lucas Kline went the distance – allowing a single hit while striking out five – in the mercy-rule-shortened game against the Panthers. Zitnik was pleasantly surprised by Kline’s performance, noting that the junior hurler didn’t pitch many innings last season. “He was over the plate most of the day, which makes your job easier as a coach,” Zitnik said.

Multiple players are also contributing on offense, with returning lettermen Larson (2-2, 4 RBI vs. NoPo), Stuckey (5-for-8 in the last two games), Bryce Healy, Josh Guerrero (ground-rule double vs. Kane), Ryan Bodamer, and Seth Lowery (two doubles vs. NoPo) leading the way.

“We hit all the way through the lineup,” Zitnik noted following the Northern Potter game.

Next up: defending District 9 champion Cameron County, in a 4:15 p.m. Wednesday start at Moose Park.

“I’m excited to be the head coach and make the decisions,” Zitnik said. “As of right now, these guys are making it easy on me. They were great in the gym, as far as being motivated and coming in and working hard. We just have quality guys.

“So right now, I’m enjoying it,” he said before adding with a smile, “but talk to me at the end of the season, and we’ll see how things go.”

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