Photo by Mike Longo Jr.
Spartans Anthony Markulin is tagged out attempting to steal third base in the Montour 3-1 win over Blackhawk.
By Mike Longo Jr.
So far in the early days of Spring, the weather has wreaked havoc on local baseball and softball fields, forcing postponements all around the WPIAL. Teams have been regularly sidelined as their fields struggled to handle the mass of water that has fallen from the skies.
But such was not the case for the Montour Spartans, thanks to the artificial turf field they call home in the Burkett Athletic Complex. Aside from two away cancellations, the Spartans have enjoyed the least uninterrupted schedule of any surrounding teams.
Sizzling would be an understatement for the reigning WPIAL Class 4A Section 2 2021 Champion Spartans. Picking up where they left off last season, it could be said they have some unfinished business to take care of.
In the 2021 season Montour cruised to the WPIAL Championship game only to feel the sting of a 5-0 loss to New Castle. As runner up, they qualified for the PIAA State Playoffs. Round 1 saw Montour disposing of Clearfield and they repeated this success in the second round against Cathedral Prep. New Castle again stepped in as the opposition during the semifinal, bringing another painful defeat for the Spartans and ending their 2021 season.
As they look to build on last year’s record, the current Spartans team looks as hot as our local weather should be, and with good reason. Their roster is loaded with leadership: eight seniors, complemented with seven juniors and two freshmen.
Their pitching staff runs deep, led by senior fireballer Dylan Mathiesen (ERA 0.95), the ace of a strong-armed unit with a fastball that gives opponents fits. Throw in Nick Walker, Ryan Gallagher and a gang of others, and that's called any coach’s dream.
Defensively, the Spartans are strong, steady and rock solid. Catcher Matthew Luchovick is a force behind the dish, with his rocket arm ready to gun down potential base stealers.
Offensively Montour is tenacious at the plate, well-disciplined with the strike zone, while hitting the horsehide extremely hard and sending rockets to all portions of the field. On the base-paths, speed, speed and more speed lead by second baseman Brock Janeda. Partnered with sophomore Jacob Robinson, the team leads with nine steals to date.
So far this season, the Spartans have dispatched the likes of Quaker Valley, Central Valley and even last year’s thorn in the side, New Castle. Most recently during a three-game, three-day stretch, the Spartans downed Blackhawk twice by finals of 3-1 and 5-3. In game three of the trifecta, they bested arch-rival West Allegheny 9-3. The Indians wouldn't go away in the hard fought contest, trailing 4-3 at the bottom of the 6th inning. In the home half of the inning, Montour flexed its muscle and erupted for five runs to take home another win.
At press time, Montour remains unbeaten in Conference play at a perfect 8-0, with an overall record of 11-1. The only blemish on perfection was a Spring training loss to a prep school in a Florida Tournament.
Spartan Pride is running high as the team looks poised for a long playoff run.