Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Life Simply Grand When Mesko at Bat in Allderdice Lineup

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Life Simply Grand When Mesko at Bat in Allderdice Lineup

Article excerpt

From the beginning, Jason Mesko has been a hit with the Allderdice baseball team. Literally.

He batted .462 as a freshman, .523 with five home runs as a sophomore, and .581 with five homers a year ago.

His scholastic saga has been a glove story as well. Mesko has been a starting middle infielder for four seasons, the first two at second base, the past two at shortstop. His defensive skills are such that he rarely pitches, even though he is accomplished at that, too.

"If I take him out of shortstop, it weakens the whole infield," said Don Nania, who is in his first season as the Dragons' coach after two as an assistant.

His play through 2003 was so impressive, Mesko could have batted .070 and averaged three errors a game this season, and still had a successful run along Shady Avenue. But of course, he hasn't done that.

In fact, this Lincoln Place kid is experiencing his best varsity season. Through Monday, he was batting .611 (33 for 54) from the right side, with six home runs and 35 RBIs.

In the statistical leaders list in Thursday's Post-Gazette, Mesko was first in RBIs, second in average and tied for third in homers among all Western Pennsylvania players. That's close to a district triple crown.

That would impress all interested observers except Mesko, who would like to ascend a different throne -- with his teammates. He wants a City League title.

"I want to go to the City championship game and win it," said Mesko, whose team lost to Carrick, 3-2, in the 2002 league finale. "That was pretty upsetting. We were [15-0 in the City] before that game."

Allderdice is certainly in contention again. Through Monday, the Dragons were 10-5 overall, 8-3 in the City. They were in second place in Section 1, a game and a half behind Brashear (11-2, 9-1).

Mesko, one of four senior captains, has been a linchpin again. An improved linchpin. Allderdice's No. 3 hitter for the past three seasons is peaking offensively.

Nania introduced an off-season training program aimed at enhancing players' bodies and minds. It has worked for Mesko, who now goes 6 feet, 185 pounds -- about 10 pounds stronger than last year. …

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