Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Washington Well-Armed for Pony Series

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Washington Well-Armed for Pony Series

Article excerpt

Having been through this before and watched it countless times, Washington Manager Frank Zebrasky knows pitching will likely dictate who wins the PONY League World Series title this year.

Zebrasky believes the host team has the caliber of arms needed to make a serious charge at winning the crown, something a Washington team hasn't been able to do since 1955.

"We have some pitching options," Zebrasky said. "If we played together as a team all the time, we would have a very good five-man rotation."

Zebrasky doesn't need a five-man rotation in the eight-team PONY World Series, which will begin Saturday and run through Aug. 16 at Lew Hays Field in Washington Park.

The host team will play its opening game at 8 p.m. next Sunday against the East Zone champion.

Washington will need some high-level pitching performances. Zebrasky will likely turn to a couple of big, strong right-handers: Andrew Sweat and Nick Weaver.

Sweat can throw in the mid-80-mph range, while Weaver stands 6 feet 3 and weights 195 pounds.

Zebrasky also has right-hander Matt Shade, whom the manager describes as having an unorthodox, sidearm style, and lefty Ryan Lang (6-2, 170), a control pitcher. Alex Evans, a shortstop or third baseman -- depending on who is on the mound -- is another pitching option.

"Each one of them is capable in their own way," Zebrasky said. "Will there be a certain person to start the Series? Absolutely. From there, it will be based on who we are paying."

Zebrasky was the manager of the 2001 Washington World Series entry, which had a 2-2 record.

The last time Washington played for the title was in 1998, only the second time in Series history a Washington team played for the championship. Two other times, in a double-elimination format, a Washington team emerged from the losers' bracket to reach the final round.

The two best Washington teams in recent years were in 1997 and 1998. The 1997 team won two of three games and defeated the eventual champion. But a loss in its second game, in what was then a round- robin divisional playoff, cost Washington a spot in the final.

The 1998 team won its three divisional games and advanced to the title game before losing to Chinese Taipei. …

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