Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)

Hot start has Conestoga out in front of Central League

- Peter DiGiovanni Columnist

There have been many fast starts this scholastic baseball season, but maybe none more impressive than that of the Conestoga Pioneers.

Conestoga is 5-0 and at the top of the Central League race, having withstood the turmoil caused by the football hazing incident and subsequent resignatio­n of head coach John Vogan. Vogan was also head football coach and for the last 13 years has turned the Pioneer baseball program into one of the best in the state. Conestoga captured the 2010 PIAA Class AAAA title and went to the finals again in 2014 before losing a heartbreak­er to La Salle.

Enter junior varsity coach Kevin Pechin, who has been with the program for more than 15 years, including in 2003, when varsity coach Darien Threadgill was relieved of his

duties halfway through the season. Pechin came in and directed Conestoga to the District 1 Class AAA title and into the PIAA playoffs.

This Conestoga group has shown its resilience on its way to a 5-0 mark, defeating Garnet Valley and Haverford along the way, two teams that figured to battle the Pioneers for the Central League crown. The Pioneers are led by Tim Miller, who is already 2-0 on the mound and hitting .545 at the plate. Miller is the leader of the team and along with a potent lineup, heads the best pitching staff in the Central League alongside senior Mark Anderson and junior Angus Mayock.

Conestoga is getting the pitching it expected, but the Pioneers are also scoring a ton of runs. In their first five wins, Conestoga has averaged a more than seven runs per game, and the lineup is producing top to bottom, with Miller, Tom Fogarty, Luke Czepiel, Alex Lee and Greyson Avots leading the charge.

So, although there has been change at the top, Pechin and longtime assistant Jim Reynolds have

kept the kids focused on just playing Conestoga baseball, which is winning baseball. *** The Ches-Mont National is really looking like it will be quite a scramble this season.

Right now, West Chester Henderson is leading the division at 5-0 with Coatesvill­e, Downingtow­n West and West Chester East right on the Warriors’ heels. Today, Coatesvill­e will travel to Bob Owens Field to take on Henderson in a matchup that could go a long way in determinin­g the league champion.

The Ches-Mont League was down last season, but an influx of young talent has the league ready to assume its spot as a top league in District 1.

That talent starts on the mound, with players like Coatesvill­e junior Adam

Staffuer leading the way. The Red Raider hurler outdueled Bishop Shanahan ace, Riley O’Day in a 2-1 Coatesvill­e win and defeated a good hitting team in West Chester Rustin, 5-3. If Coatesvill­e can get anything behind the tall right hander, the Riaders are going to be very tough to beat for the league title.

Some of that young talent is at Downingtow­n West, as freshman Eric Grintz has already made a major impact for the 4-2 Whippets. Grintz made two very nice fielding plays in last week’s 7-6 loss to Henderson, while stroking two hits at the plate. Then, Grintz came back and led the Whippets in their 4-1 win over Coatesvill­e by lacing two more hits, collecting a RBI and scoring a run. Grintz is a cather by trade but he looks very comfortabl­e at third base.

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