McKeesport, PA. – Success has been the mantra for the Penn State Greater Allegheny Baseball Team since 2010. In those eight seasons, PSUGA has made the Penn State University Athletic Conference Playoffs in five of those eight seasons and has won the championship a total of four times. The 2018 season continued that winning tradition marking the fifth time since 2010 that the team has been in the playoffs.
The season started out with a strong performance at the Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where PSUGA went 3-3 against top talent across the USCAA, NCAA, and NJCAA. They would then come home and face NCAA Division II talents in Fisher College and Mercyhurst priming them for the challenges they were set to face throughout the regular season.
They would win four of their first six conference games of the season and picked up some big wins, including a comeback 5-4 victory over the eventual PSUAC Champions PSU-DuBois. They would never look back dominating PSUAC competition throughout the month of April. They clinched a playoff spot on April 15th with a decisive 16-1 win over PSU-Fayette.
After winning three in a row to end the season, it came down to the final game against PSU-Mont Alto to determine if PSUGA would serve as the #2 or #3 seed in the playoffs. They stepped up and got the win defeating PSU-Mont Alto 4-3 and earning a home playoff game for the first round of the PSUAC Tournament.
After some shakeups with the seeding, PSUGA took on #3 seed PSU-Beaver in the first round of the PSUAC Playoffs at Kelly Automotive Park in Butler, PA. It would not be PSUGA’s day as they fell 7-3. Their big offensive inning came in the bottom of the fourth when they tied the game on an RBI single by Zack Craven (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport) and an RBI double by Hunter Hughes (Murrysville, PA./Murrysville).
Beaver would go on to score five of the next six combined runs to steal the victory and move on to the PSUAC Tournament in DuBois, PA. Although the season had come to an end, there was still a lot to celebrate for this seasons PSUGA Baseball Team.
Headlined by a strong senior class, PSUGA finished the year 14-13 overall and 11-5 in conference play. Josh Arroyo (Toa Alta, Puerto Rico/Levittown Baptist Academy) reached a career milestone picking up his 100th career collegiate RBI against PSU-Fayette on April 15th when he got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Arroyo finished the season leading the team with two home runs and 26 RBI while hitting .360.
Zack Pollack (Cecil, PA./Cannon-McMillan) had a career year as well finishing with a .387 average and collecting 17 RBI. After hitting .300 a year ago, Pollack turned up his game in 2018 and set career highs in almost every offensive category including average, RBI, walks (13), and on base percentage (.468).
Arroyo and Pollack headlined a team of five PSUAC All-Conference Award nominees for PSUGA Baseball. Arroyo and fellow senior Adam Jacko (North Versailles, PA./East Allegheny) earned Second-Team All-Conference honors while Pollack, junior Dylan Ernst (McKeesport, PA./McKeesport), and freshman Caleb Smith (Irwin, Pa./Norwin) each earned Honorable Mention for their seasons.
While PSUGA is losing five of their top seniors, they have many young, promising players to look to lead the team in the future. Smith finished the year hitting .307, highest among eligible freshman for PSUGA, with 13 RBI while sporting a .969 fielding percentage while playing both catcher and third base.
Freshman pitchers David West (Hempfield, Pa./Hempfield) and Matt Givler (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville) each had strong seasons on the mound and look to lead the pitching staff into next season. Givler finished with a 3-1 record and a 7.83 ERA in five appearances/four starts this season and West showed strong out of the bullpen going 1-0 with two saves while striking out 10 in 12.1 innings of work.
PSUGA’s young core of talent will look to continue the success into next season as PSUGA Baseball looks to cement its place as a playoff contender now and for many years to come.