The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

High School Sports

June 26, 2014

Area players get PHSBCA nods

PITTSBURGH — Brad Coleman and Alex Sobecky were part of an amazing four-year run by the Bishop McCort High School baseball team.

Jack Shirk is an underclassman who stood out on a Richland squad that also has been one of the best in the LHAC in recent seasons.

The trio of area players recently earned first-team honors on the Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state team.

“The players that got the individual accolades certainly had great seasons and they deserve all the recognition they’re receiving. But we tell our guys team success leads to those accomplishments,” said Bishop McCort coach Chris Pfeil, whose 18-8 Crushers advanced to the state semifinal round. “The fact that we’ve been able to have the success in our program the last few years has put our school on the map and given our kids a tremendous amount of exposure to make the all-state teams.”

Shirk, a junior, was a first-team selection as a middle infielder among Class AA players.

Seniors Coleman, a right-handed pitcher, and Sobecky, who moved to first base from the outfield, were first-teamers on the Class A team.

Northern Cambria junior Joe Olish was named to the second-team in Class AA as an outfielder, with Colts teammates Joshua Prasko and Joe Frontino earning honorable mention.

Bishop McCort senior center fielder Nemo Trexler made the second-team in Class A, with Crushers Nathan Neiderhiser, a senior, and Nick Gjurich, a junior, taking honorable mention nods.

“Jack’s baseball career started when he was a bat boy for the old Delweld team,” Richland coach John Sidor said of Shirk, who had  an impressive .607 batting average with 34 hits. “Our assistant coach, Garrett Sidor, was an assistant coach for Delweld and he would hit Jack infield-outfield with the regular team members. People recognized his talent 10 years ago. No one outworks him in the weight room, at practice, on the field and off the field. He’s one of those kids who comes along once every 10 or 15 years.”

Shirk had 31 runs and 16 RBI for the 15-6-1 Rams, who advanced to the District 6-AA quarterfinals. He also had seven doubles, three triples and a home run.

“He loves being on the baseball field and loves the game of baseball,” Sidor said.

Coleman was an effective workhorse on the mound for McCort, a program with a state title win in 2012 included in four deep PIAA playoff runs since 2011.

The Crushers have had 12 all-state selections in that span, with Coleman making the team twice.

“Brad Coleman has been outstanding the past two years. He graduated as the only two-time, all-state baseball player in McCort history,” Pfeil said. “He’s a great leader on and off the field. He was the glue that kept our team together through a ton of adversity in our pitching staff. We just kept handing him the ball and he’d go out and get us to the next round.”

Coleman had a 10-3 record with a 1.92 ERA. He started 13 games and finished six of those while striking out 76 and walking 11. At the plate, Coleman batted .257 with 19 hits, 15 RBI and three doubles.

Of most significance, Coleman started every game in the district playoffs as McCort won its third straight 6-A crown. He also was the starting pitcher throughout the PIAA run.

Sobecky batted .370 with 18 runs and 18 RBI. He had three doubles and two triples among his 27 hits.

“Alex Sobecky made the move to first base this year from the outfield. He had a tremendous senior year to top off a very solid career,” Pfeil said. “Al really stepped into the leadership role for us. He’s a hard-nosed kid who gives us everything he has every day. We’re proud he’s receiving the all-state recognition because he’s a kid that grinds it out every day.”

Trexler has been among the area’s elite outfielders and baserunners for the past three years. He’s a standout in basketball, a sport in which he also received all-state recognition.

“Nemo had a great season for us out of the lead-off spot,” Pfeil said. “Defensively he’s as good a center fielder as I’ve seen at the high school level. It’s very difficult to run on him with his arm. It speaks volumes about the type of athlete he is that he is an all-state honoree in both basketball and baseball. Fortunately he’s going to be able to play both sports at the college level.”

Neiderhiser and Gjurich were part of a special group of players the Crushers produced in the past four seasons.

“Nate Neiderhiser had a tremendous career, a four-year starter,” Pfeil said. “He still put up great numbers despite missing a large chunk of the season due to illness. He’s one of the best players to ever come through our program. Nick Gjurich was the lone junior to start for us. We plugged him into the lineup early in the year and all he did was hit the ball and get on base for us. He led our team in offense.”

Northern Cambria’s Olish had a .463 batting average with 34 runs and 20 RBI. The center fielder-pitcher hit five doubles, seven triples and a home run for the Heritage Conference champions.

“I’ve had him since he was in eighth grade. He played with me in a fall league and I put him on a team with some of the older kids,” Northern Cambria coach John Bonatesta said. “He’s worked hard and developed into a heck of a player. He’s worked on his arm strength, his hitting and his outfielding skills. He is a great leader. At the end of this season, he came on as a pitcher and had a 1.29 ERA. It’s nice to know he’s a junior who will return next year.”

The Colts went 13-8 overall and 12-4 in the Heritage. Bonatesta said the program won its first ever conference title, which covers 30 years.

“Joey Frontino comes from a great family background. He’s an amazing leader,” Bonatesta said of his honorable mention selection. “He was the catcher and a captain. Josh Prasko started since he was a freshman. I think he totaled 160 strikeouts during his career. He was our ace. We put him on the mound to win the games.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at


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