Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Baseball: Semifinal Preview Seneca Valley Turnaround Befits Coach

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Baseball: Semifinal Preview Seneca Valley Turnaround Befits Coach

Article excerpt

If the Seneca Valley baseball team was a building, then Eric Semega was part of the foundation, one of the first bricks laid 29 years ago. Semega was a sophomore on the first Seneca Valley team in 1985.

Now the program just might be the tallest building in the WPIAL baseball skyline, and Semega's fingerprints are all over the blueprints.

Semega is in his 14th season and has built the Raiders into one of the premier programs in Western Pennsylvania. Now he is a few wins from doing something only one coach in WPIAL history has done.

Seneca Valley will play in the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals Monday against Conestoga. If Seneca Valley goes on to win a PIAA title, Semega would become only the second coach in WPIAL history to win multiple titles at both the WPIAL and PIAA levels.

The only other coach with at least two WPIAL and PIAA titles is Riverside's Dan Oliastro, who has three WPIAL titles and four PIAA titles. The only other WPIAL coach to win more than one PIAA title was Moon's Tom Hoffman, who won PIAA championships in 2001 and 2002. But Hoffman never won a WPIAL title.

Semega, 44, has three WPIAL titles in the past four years and also won a PIAA title in 2007. This season, Semega led Seneca Valley to a spot in a WPIAL title game for the fourth consecutive year, which hasn't happened in the WPIAL in almost 100 years.

"I think the last few years, the credit for the success goes to all of the coaches," said senior pitcher Connor Coward. "But I think the record kind of shows what [Semega] has done."

Semega is a numbers guy (he teaches calculus and trigonometry at Seneca Valley), and he certainly has some impressive numbers on his resume. His record since taking over as coach in 2001 is 197-92 with seven section titles and 12 WPIAL playoff appearances.

Just don't expect Semega to be impressed by the numbers.

"To be honest, I'm the type of person who lives within the moment. I really don't reflect too much on the past, good or bad," he said. "I couldn't care less if anyone knows who the Seneca Valley coach is and that's the truth. My reward is the relationships, and the camaraderie with kids that go through this program, and keeping in contact with those kids after they play. …

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