2016 Season Preview: PIAA District VI

By Jacob Gill
Pennsylvania Assistant Director of Scouting

Our yo-yo through west central PA continues for the fourth installment of our season preview content, which will run for three weeks up to the first official PIAA competition date on March 24. Each article includes a list of top prospects from amongst the cohort of schools, as well as write-ups of a number of teams in the cohort.

We received inquiries last year regarding how we decide which teams to detail. A team profiled in the article is less an indication of what type of season we expect it to have and more a function of how much information we are able to compile. For example, if we have not seen a team in person (there are over 600 baseball-playing high schools in the state), stats are not available on-line, and a school district spam filter gobbled up our e-mails to the coach that contained the questionnaire, we might not have enough information to write a full paragraph on that school.

Will Lozinak

[mouse over pics for player names]

PIAA District VI Top Prospects

1. Isaiah Kearns, 2016, RHP/IF, Mifflin County (West Virginia)
2. Peyton Reesman, 2016, LHP, Mifflin County (Pittsburgh)
3. Will Lozinak, 2017, RHP, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic
4. John Servello, 2017, OF/RHP, Hollidaysburg Area
5. Brandon Raquet, 2016, OF, State College Area (William & Mary)
Tyler Peterson6. Bailey Ishler, 2016, RHP, State College Area (Air Force)
7. Chris Adams, 2016, IF, State College Area (Penn)
8. Bryce Hensor, 2017, IF, Juniata Valley
9. Logan Mathieu, 2017, 1B/LHP, Bellefonte Area (Liberty)
10. Tyler Peterson, 2017, C/RHP, Hollidaysburg Area

Class A

Jake SwankSenior all-WestPac performer Luke Dividock returns to lead Portage Area on the mound (52 IP, 47 H, 3 BB, 48 K) and at the plate (.338 AVG, 12 2B, 7 BB vs 4 K). He will be rejoined atop the pitching depth chart by junior Scott Petrunak (22 IP, 22 H, 3 BB, 17 K), while sophomore Noah Kerch is expected log innings as well. In addition to Dividock, coach Larry McCabe also welcomes back four other position player starters, including junior shortstop Jake Swank (.353 AVG, 7 BB vs 5 K) senior utilityman Cody Zdunczyk (.417 AVG, 9 XBH), and sophomore infielder Zach Wiggins (.296 AVG), who is looking to build on a solid rookie campagin.

Frankie MontecalvoBishop Guilfoyle Catholic must replace a good chunk of its roster, but still has a solid core of returning players around which it can build. The imposing Lozinak will front the pitching staff, with sophomore RHPs John Fanelli and Mark Conrad also slated for significant work. Lozinak and Fanelli will also help power an offense that will be dominated by non-seniors, with junior outfielders Frankie Montecalvo and Mark Fanelli, plus junior first baseman Logan McGeary expected to aid in run production for coach Mel Kepner.

Losing five of its last six games following a 12-3 start to the season for Homer-Center assuredly left a bad taste in the team's mouth that it is looking to wash away this spring. The pitching staff is largely intact, led by Mount Aloysius-bound RHP Alex Arone (37 IP, 33 H, 23 BB, 38 K), senior LHP Stephen Novak (31.2 IP, 33 H, 12 BB, 15 K), and sophomore RHP Jesse Lee (18.2 IP, 21 H, 15 BB, 20 K). Coach Scott Bauer welcomes back a solid offensive core as well, including junior shortstop Matt Alexander (.256 AVG, 26 BB+HBP vs 10 K), first baseman Arone (.346 AVG, 12 BB vs 4 K), third baseman Lee (.382 AVG), and sophomore outfielder Ryan Orgargos (.429 AVG).

All-WestPac LHP/OF Trey McGough (a Mount St. Mary's signee) will come straight off the hockey ice to again lead Ferndale Area with his arm (30 IP, 37 H, 12 BB, 37 K) and bat (.475 AVG, 11 XBH, 14 SB). Junior RHPs Matt Teplica (25.2 Ip, 27 H, 13 BB, 39 K) and Julius Thomas (19 IP, 10 H, 9 BB, 14 K) help fill out an experienced pitching staff that returns nearly 70% of its innings. Senior C/IF Corey McCombie (.367 AVG, 16 BB vs 10 K), utilityman Thomas (.333 AVG, 10 SB), and infielder Teplica (.316 AVG) will join McGough as primary run producers.

Bryce HensorIt would have been unreasonable to tab Juniata Valley for a repeat performance of its district title and state semifinal appearance given it graduated its top three pitchers and more than half of its regular line-up. To make matters worse, projected staff ace Nick Leydig hurt his ACL during basketball season and is highly questionable to return this spring, leaving the competition for innings completely wide open among a group that includes Hensor, 6-foot-3 freshman RHP Quinn Zinobile, sophomore RHPs Seth Derugen and Jack Johnson, plus senior LHP Hunter Houck. The offense is more settled with Hensor (.481 AVG, 16 XBH, 7 BB vs 2 K, 22 SB), outfielder Houck (.349 AVG), and utilityman Derugen (.311 AVG, 7 BB vs 5 K, 14 SB) as returning starters. A trio of juniors who played part-time roles last spring -- outfielder Damian Walters, first baseman River Stewart, and catcher Jake Houck -- should have an opportunity to solidify their place in the line-up for coach Don Price.

Ryan ShirleyA magical 2015 run for district runner-up Blairsville ended in a 14-inning instant classic in the state first round. An offense that must replace half of its ten primary components, including two all-Heritage Conference honorees, will be led by juniors Ricky and Ryan Shirley, and sophomore Dakota Sunday, who comes off a solid rookie campaign. Ryan Shirley (47 IP, 39 H, 14 BB, 30 K) also returns as the staff ace, while Sunday (9 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 12 K) could have an opportunity to ascend the depth chart.

An experienced returning pitching staff for Claysburg-Kimmel, which includes senior RHP Luke Eberhart (43.1 IP, 51 H, 27 BB, 35 K), sophomore LHP Tanner Hunt (16.2 IP, 28 H, 19 BB, 11 K), and junior RHP Dakota Chamberlain (22.2 IP, 32 H, 5 BB, 13 K), will be bolstered by the arrival of freshman LHP Dominica Francora. Coach Justin Harris has four position player starters to replace and will turn to senior 1st-team all-ICC North outfielder Lucas Ebersole and Chamberlain, also an infielder, to stabilize the offense.

Northern Cambria welcomes back eight of nine position player starters from a line-up that hit .428 and averaged almost 8.5 runs per game. Six of those eight hit over .400, led by senior third baseman Scott Serfin (.600 AVG, 8 BB vs 0 K). Other major contributors for coach John Bonatesta include senior infielder D.J. Olenchick (.415 AVG), senior second baseman Mac Novella (.449 AVG, 7 BB vs 5 K, 17 SB), senior shortstop Adam Weiland (.408 AVG), junior outfielder Logan Marino (.464 AVG), and senior catcher Zack Lieb (.477 AVG, 8 BB vs 4 K). While run-scoring shouldn't be an issue for the Colts, the season will likely hinge on whether or not the staff, led by Serafin (34.1 IP, 33 H, 26 BB, 28 K) can improve its collective strike-throwing, as the five returners who logged innings last year combined to walk more than they struck out.

First-year Bishop Carroll Catholic coach Jamie Eckenrode, who was formerly a Huskies assistant, inherits a club that will be led by senior two-way performers Luke Mento and Raymond Watt. A pair of LHP -- senior Robbie Kerr and freshman Carson Ertter -- will also contribute on the mound, while senior R.J. Clark, and juniors Ryan Karlheim and Calvin Wirfil, should aid in primary run production.

Class AA (forms a sub-region with District V)

Perennial district contender Bishop McCort Catholic will have experience on its side this spring, as the Crushers graduated only one senior off last year's LHAC championship squad. Senior RHP Nick Beblar, sophomore LHP Brett Seitz, and junior RHP Brendan Lavely combined to log 113 effective innings last year, while senior RHP Billy Wilson should carve out a role for himself after being limited due to injury his junior year. Senior shortstop Blake Wade (.437 AVG, 15 SB), junior first baseman Bryce Kramer (.350 AVG), senior OF/C Logan Wade (.302 AVG, 21 SB), sophomore second baseman Ian Fleck (.302 AVG), and junior 1B/C Boston Bradley (.355 AVG), who missed half of last season with a broken ankle, will spark coach Chris Pfeil's veteran offense.

Josh McKnightChase SmithCentral was unceremoniously bounced as the one-seed from the district quarterfinals a year ago and will need to replace two-thirds of its regular line-up in order to reach that high acclaim again this spring. The offensive foundation is solid, with the junior trio of outfielder Chase Smith (.371 AVG; very solid defender), shortstop Alex Hoenstine (.442 AVG, 11 BB vs 4 K, 11 SB), and utility Josh McKnight (.404 AVG, 16 BB vs 12 K) getting support from senior first baseman J.M. Knepp and junior outfielder Mike Speck stepping into more prominent roles. While its ace moved on, the rest of coach A.J. Hoenstine's pitching staff returns, led by junior RHPs McKnight (39.2 IP, 26 H, 19 BB, 32 K) and Jarrett Imler, and senior RHPs Bubba Johnson (11.1 IP, 9 H, 7 BB, 11 K) and Cordell Bowser (22 IP, 15 H, 3 BB, 17 K).

The senior all-ICC North duo of RHP Drew Harshbarger (53.2 IP, 36 H, 14 BB, 67 K) and LHP Dylan Sunderland (42 IP, 32 H, 10 BB, 19 K) are expected to again pace a Mount Union Area staff that will also get continued contributions from junior RHP Cole Wilson (18.1 IP, 14 H, 5 BB, 24 K). Harshbarger should have have a bounce-back offensive campaign after playing through a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder last year, while senior infielder Jonathan Atherton (.462 AVG) and Sunderland (.410 AVG) will also be primary run producers for coach Nick Imperioli, who enters his 43rd year at the helm. Keep an eye on freshman SS/RHP Dylan Gearhart to make a two-way impact early in his career.

Richland graduated its offensive spark and a member of its rotation that led it to the sub-region title last season, but does welcome back seniors Johnny Kutchman, who pitched a shutout in the sub-region championship, and Jake Buchanan to pace the staff. Mount Aloysius-bound outfielder Andrew Pasko and his fellow senior Andrew Frear will join Kutchman in picking up the offensive slack.

Coming off a state tournament appearance (and heart-breaking 10-inning, first round loss to eventual state champ Neshannock), Bellwood-Antis will feature only two seniors on its roster. One of them, LHP Corey Parson (37.2 IP, 27 H, 25 BB, 51 K), will front the pitching staff along with junior RHP Nevin Wood (16.1 IP, 13 H, 9 BB, 13 K). Coach Steve Conlon also welcomes back five members of his starting line-up, led by junior outfielders Jordan McCracken (.292 AVG) and Sawyer Kline (.362 AVG, 8 XBH), and junior first baseman Joey Padula (.288 AVG, .528 OBP, 24 BB + 6 HBP vs 11 K).

A veteran roster returns for Philipsburg-Osceola, which unceremoniously bounced perennial state contender Bishop McCort from the first round of the district tournament last year. A pair of 1st-team all-Mountain League performers -- senior shortstop Logan Williamson (.475 AVG, 9 XBH, 14 BB vs 3 K) and Pitt-Greensburg-bound catcher Derek Shaw (.423 AVG, 10 BB vs 6 K) -- will power an offense for coach Doug Sankey that welcomes back two-thirds of the starting line-up, including sophomore Josh Earnest (.339 AVG). Penn State-DuBois-bound LHP Isaac Knepp (39.2 IP, 49 H, 12 BB, 18 K) returns to front a pitching staff that expects sophomore RHPs Earnest and Gage Coudriet to take on increased roles after getting their feet wet as rookies.

Heading into the back half of his second decade at the helm, Bald Eagle Area coach Jim Gardner will need to replace five line-up stalwarts and two of his top three innings-eaters if his team is to flip the script from six one-run losses from a year ago. Seniors Ryan Guenot (.306 AVG) and Trey Butterworth (.317 AVG) are the top returning offensive performers, while Kody Hamer (30 IP, 43 H, 7 BB, 27 K) leads a quartet of seniors who saw mound time last season.

A lot of innings are up for grabs at Juniata, where senior RHP Chantz Swartz will lead a group looking to pick up the slack that includes senior RHP Aaron Zendt, plus junior RHPs Korey Martin and Dakota Nealman. Outfielder Swartz (a unanimous 1st-team Tri-Valley League all-star selection) will also pace coach Nick Beward's offense, which should get contributions from C/SS Nealman, senior infielder Dylan Loudenslager, senior outfielder Justin Mingle, and junior C/OF Spencer Page.

Jacob RuppCentral Cambria returns the majority of its roster, including its top five innings-eaters and six position players who saw significant action. Strike-throwing junior RHP Jacob Rupp (23 IP, 29 H, 2 BB, 25 K) should once again front the rotation, while live-armed, Indiana of PA-bound LHP T.J. Adams (12.1 IP, 10 H, 24 BB, 14 K) has the stuff to dominate, if he can harness his command. Adams (.455 AVG) and Rupp (.303 AVG) should also continue to pace the offense for first-year coach Joe Klezek.

A young roster awaits Marion Center coach Paul DeHaven as he begins his second quarter century at the helm. Senior catcher J.J. Brendle will power the offense and handle a pitching staff that includes senior RHPs Jordan Williams and Erik Hicks, junior RHP Eric Stitt, and sophomore RHP Taylor McCunn.

Senior RHP Kohl Henry, an all-LHAC selection, returns to front the rotation for Westmont Hilltop, while junior catcher Mike Roper will spark coach Paul Knupp's offense.

Gavin CampbellCambria Heights graduated four members of its regular line-up, including its two primary offensive contributors. Looking to pick up the offensive slack will be sophomore infielder Tyler Lamont, who hit .333 when he joined the line-up midway through his freshman year, plus junior infielder Brody Mezzelo, senior outfielder Luke Eckenrode, junior outfielder Ronnie Verdavoir, and senior catcher Eddie Link. Junior LHP Gavin Campbell is the only holdover to log double-digit innings last year for coach Adam Sowers, who will also turn to the RHP duo of Mezzelo and senior Eddie Link on a staff that will need to improve its strike-throwing in order to compete with the top dogs in this district.

Class AAA (forms a sub-region with District V)

The bulk of the staff for defending sub-region champ Bellefonte Area returns, as only one of six pitchers to log double-digit innings departed via graduation. The college-bound trio of senior RHP Dom Masullo (Morehead State), senior LHP Kyler Mellot (Clarion), and Mathieu will continue to log the bulk of the work, along with senior RHP Jeremy Warefield. First-year coach Dan Fravel has more question marks on the offensive side, as only senior infielder Darren Heeman, Mathieu, and junior outfielder Tanner Helms return as regular starters. Senior OF/1B Mark Armstrong and senior second baseman Storm Smith performed well in limited action last year and will look to make a bigger impact in a more full-time role.

Cory StormJohn ServelloHollidaysburg Area welcomes back a good portion of its now junior-heavy line-up, led by Servello (an all-Central Penn League selection) and Peterson, their classmates Lennox Pugh and Cory Storm, and sophomore infielder Keaton Nolan. The pitching staff has a number of options in senior RHP Aaron Smith, and the junior RHP quintent of Storm, Tyler Treese, Nolan Walters, Peterson, and Servello. If coach John Szynal can coax his unproven staff into the strikezone consistently, the Tigers could make some noise this spring.

Huntingdon Area dropped an extra-inning affair to eventual sub-region champ Bellefonte Area in the semifinal last spring and now must rebuild a pitching staff that graduated its top two starters. Coach George Zanic will look to senior RHPs Chris Alleman and Leif Brown, plus sophomore RHP Nick Holesa, to fill the void. The senior quintet of shortstop Jon Wagner, catcher Brown, outfielders Logan Fisher and Alleman, and second baseman Brian McLaughlin will be featured in a line-up that could be cracked by a number of sophomores, including first baseman Holesa.

Senior all-Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference C/SS Jeremy Updyke (.571 AVG) is back to pace the offense for Greater Johnstown, which also expects to get contributions from senior shortstop LesPaul Buchko, junior infielder Isaiah Keller, sophomore C/3B Joe Speer, and junior outfielder Rashaud Jordan-Maines. Keller and Buchko will team with junior RHP Ray Ray Johnson and senior RHP Connor Kobal on coach Kerry Pfeil's pitching staff that will need to improve its command if the Trojans are to snag a sub-regional berth.

Class AAAA (forms a sub-region with Districts VIII, IX and X)

Bailey IshlerHaving graduated two-thirds of its starting line-up, the stranglehold for State College Area on this sub-region's state tournament bid could be the most tenuous in recent memory. Working in the Little Lions favor is the return of four senior pitchers who logged double-digit innings, led by Ishler (42.1 IP, 33 H, 24 BB, 36 K), LHP Tristan Ballenger (38.2 IP, 37 H, 15 BB, 25 K), and RHP Tucker Triebold (18.1 IP, 27 H, 3 BB, 22 K). In his first season, coach Troy Allen will be looking to develop offensive depth behind an athletic group that includes Adams (.306 AVG, 22 SB), Raquet (.444 AVG, 9 BB vs 5 K, 10 SB), and senior outfielder Greg Copenhaver (.394 AVG).

Peyton ReesmanAfter dropping an 11-inning affair in the district semifinals, Mifflin County hopes its depth can help it take the next steps toward a state tourney berth. In his second season, coach Bernard Howard will again hand the ball to Reesman (43 IP, 24 H, 39 BB, 68 K) once a week, with Kearns joining him atop the rotation after logging only two innings last year. Quick-twitch Kearns (.448 AVG, 11 XBH), Lock Haven commit Tyler Powell (.306 AVG), and junior second baseman Cade Attick (.341 AVG) will spark an offense that welcomes back junior catcher Isaac Maclay, who missed last season due to a knee injury suffered playing football.

Catcher CummingAltoona Area graduated seven of nine line-up regulars and nearly three-quarters of its innings pitched off last season's district runner-up. Senior RHP Andrew Gresslar (22 IP, 25 H, 5 BB, 17 K) is the only holdover on the staff to have logged more than eight innings, while junior Elliot Mast and senior Mason Betar will both be called upon to assume larger roles. Corner infielder Mast will join college-bound Catcher Cumming (Pitt-Johnstown) and Allan Mackey (Mount Aloysius) to power coach Tom Smith's offense.

A trio of senior PHAC Division 1 all-stars -- Lock Haven-bound 1st-team outfielder Toner Corl (.375 AVG, 7 BB vs 2 K, 9 SB), 2nd-team infielder Talon Falls (.404 AVG, 8 XBH), and St. Bonaventure-bound 2nd-team catcher Isaac Porter (.344 AVG) -- return to pace a senior-laden Central Mountain offense. The Wildcats graudated their top two pitchers, but still welcome back three seniors -- Corl (25.1 IP, 21 H, 11 BB, 24 K), Mount St. Mary's-bound Cole Reeder (20.1 IP, 15 H, 6 BB, 18 K), and Morehead State-bound Alex Garbrick (16 IP, 9 H, 10 BB, 19 K) -- who saw significant mound time last spring.

Season Preview Schedule

3/2 - PAISAA
3/3 - PIAA District V
3/4 - PIAA District IX
3/5 - PIAA District VI
3/6 - PIAA District IV
3/7 - PIAA District X
3/8 - PIAA District III (Class A & AA)
3/9 - PIAA District VII (Class A)
3/10 - PIAA District VII (Class AA)
3/11 - PIAA District II
3/12 - PIAA District XI
3/13 - PIAA District I (Class A, AA & AAA)
3/14 - PIAA District III (Class AAA)
3/15 - PIAA District VII (Class AAA)
3/16 - PIAA District I (Class AAAA)
3/17 - PIAA District III (Class AAAA)
3/18 - PIAA District VII (Class AAAA)
3/19 - PIAA District XII