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WPIAL BASEBALL CHAMPIONS | ‘Young guns’ at Bishop Canevin are in a league of their own

Photo by Mike Longo Jr.; Crusaders Aaryn Edwards can’t snag a flyball in the Bishop Canevin 8-5 win over California in the WPIAL Class A Championship game.

By Mike Longo Jr.

In the world of athletics, it's known as veteran or senior leadership that coaches rely upon – the "standard" if you will, the barometer referencing how well the team will fare in regular and postseason play en route to a possible championship.

Bishop Canevin's 2023 baseball team is as far from the standard or normal as you can get. They only have one senior entry on this year's squad, who unfortunately is a non-starter. So, you can throw the standard right out the window as this group of "young guns" will have none of that.

The Crusaders proved you don't need a lineup laden with seniors or power hitters, (recording only one season homerun) for that matter to be competitive and win a championship.

Four sophomores complimented by six juniors make up the Crusaders' starters. So if you're a Bishop Canevin fan looking to the future, forget it. The moment is right and the time is now.

Wild Things Park in Washington County was the setting on a sweltering 90-degree last day of May. Not a cloud in the sky, fans soaked up the sun's blistering rays as the WPIAL looked to crown a new Class 1A baseball champion.

Canevin's Crusaders were happy to oblige as they defeated California by a final tally of 8-5 winning their third WPIAL Title and first since 2000. Thirty years ago this week actually, Bishop Canevin laid claim to its first-ever championship. With the top two teams – Union and Eden Christian – bounced from the postseason, the door seemed wide open for this young group of sixth-seed Crusaders to shine.

This team hit for singles, not power, and got baserunners on board which is exactly how you make things happen on the diamond. Led by sophomore fireball Pitcher Tyler Maddix who kept the California Trojan hitters at bay for six strong innings of work on the hill. Maddix allowed three runs on four hits while walking three and striking out eight California batters. Maddix is the real deal, the ace of the staff. And he has two more seasons to thrill Crusader fans. On the season, Maddix has fanned a whopping 118 opponents.

"He kept his cool – kept throwing strikes," Crusaders Coach Bill Varley said. "I told him prior to the start, think about throwing strikes, he did just that."

Maddix yielded the mound to fellow sophomore, Kole Olszewski to finish off the contest. Olszewski allowed a two-run double in the seventh before closing the door on any California title hopes.

Bishop Canevin started early and never looked back as they scored a pair of runs at the start of the contest in their first at-bat. Junior, Mason Cole, had an RBI single and the second run came courtesy of a wild pitch. California would grab one run in the bottom of the inning and trailed 2-1.

California committed three errors in the top of the fourth allowing Canevin two more runs, padding its lead 4-1.

Inning five saw the Crusaders pound out five hits as their lead was extended to a comfortable 7-1 edge. Quentin White, Kellen Andruscik and Lucas Golembiewski all had RBI singles. California would get one run back in the bottom of the inning.

Bishop Canevin would answer and get that run back in the sixth when Andruscik hit a sac fly for an 8-2 lead. The Trojans nailed one run in their half of the sixth and two more in the final frame rounding out their 8-5 loss.

"That's the best we've played in the playoffs," said Varley.

Maddix continued his impressive season picking the championship game win and owning an 8-1 season record. Olszewski was three for five at the plate, while Maddix, White, Glover and Aiden Didion all collected two hits each.

Next up for the Crusaders is District 10 Runners-Up Saegertown in Round 1 of the PIAA Playoffs.



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