Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Riverside Is out to Retain Its Title

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Riverside Is out to Retain Its Title

Article excerpt

Some teams might immediately hang their head after losing in a WPIAL championship game; the Riverside baseball team did anything but that last year.

After losing a tough 9-7 decision in the WPIAL Class AA title game to backyard rival and section-foe Ellwood City, the Panthers thrived in the PIAA playoffs and ended up capturing the program's fourth state championship.

"We lost that [WPIAL title] game, but the kids learned from it," longtime Riverside coach Dan Oliastro said. "We made mistakes in that game, so the kids went on and corrected those mistakes and they didn't make any the rest of the year. We might have lost that game, but we benefited from it in the end."

Oliastro, who returns to the bench for his 45th season at Riverside, welcomes back a senior-loaded core of veterans and believes this year's group should once again compete with the stronger teams in WPIAL Class AA.

"We have our eye on the prize," said senior pitcher Blaise McCarty, who lives in North Sewickley Township. "We want to be playing for another WPIAL and state title, but we're not thinking too far ahead.

"We know we might have a target on our backs, and that's a good thing. That's going to push us to work harder because we know there's a lot of hard work ahead of us in order to be successful."

Entering the season listed as the Post-Gazette's top-ranked Class AA baseball team, Riverside was off to a 3-1 start, earning a 2-1 win against New Brighton on March 30 and also picking up non- section victories against Freedom and Western Beaver. The Panthers lost to Class AAA power Hopewell, 7-5, on Monday and is scheduled to play No. 3-ranked Beaver Area today in their section opener.

"We've been hitting the ball pretty well," said McCarty, a right- handed pitcher who is already committed to play baseball next season for Alderson-Broaddus College, an NCAA Division II program in Philippi, W.Va. "Our fielding is excellent right now. We're really coming together as a team."

McCarty, who went 6-2 with 52 strikeouts last season, headlines Riverside's pitching rotation. Senior pitcher/first baseman Tyler Falk, junior Mitch Connelly, junior Jason Pettner and junior Kyle Robertson also are expected to add pitching depth for the Panthers. …

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