By Corey J. Corbin
Allied News Sports Editor
Pat Forese had a hunch about the 2007 edition of Grove City baseball.
He knew he’d have a pretty good defensive squad that would rely on its pitching staff.
The long-time GC skipper never envisioned his club posting a cumulative .413 batting average, outscore the opposition 225-46 and reach double digits in 15-of-19 games.
The Eagles will take their high scoring act on the road tomorrow when they travel to Slippery Rock University’s Jack Critchfield Park to face Corry in the District 10 Class AAA semifinals at 6:30 p.m.
“Coming into season, I figured we’d be pretty good defensively and I knew Bob would be very good on the mound,” Forese said. “I knew our pitching would be decent. Our offense was the question. I guess that question has been answered. They’ve hit the ball very well all year.”
Forese’s concerns about his offense centered around the losses of All-Region talents Jesse Alfreno and Beau Fisher, who are involved in Division I athletics at Penn State and Virginia, respectively. Alfreno is Grove City’s all-time leader in career home runs with 16.
With Alfreno and Fisher, the Grove City offense centered around them at the top of the order, but without them, GC trots out solid hitters one through nine.
“Last year with Beau and Jesse, they were the ‘Big Boppers,’ ” junior third baseman Ryan Devine said. “They were going to have their 3-for-4 nights. Losing them, we knew we had a more solid one through nine. We may not have had that one guy. With everyone contributing, you know you can have an off night and someone will pick you up. It’s been amazing.
“Last year, 2-3-4 was pretty solid. You’ll hear 7-8-9 when (the Eagles are batting) and that’s Kent, Scott and Brad. Those are three hitters that would be in the top five for other teams. No one’s an easy out.”
Of the 10 players with at least 30 at bats, senior Kent Denbow has the lowest batting average at .282. The Eagles are led by junior second baseman Garrett Molloy (.532) and senior pitcher/designated hitter Bob Revesz (.500). Grove City’s other regulars included senior second baseman Dan Keil (.475), Devine (.435), junior first baseman Derek Forese (.420), junior outfielder Ross Trinch (.371), junior infielder Mark Revesz (.367), junior outfielder Tyler Moser (.325) and junior outfielder Brad Ballantine (.316).
“If our top four guys don’t get on, our next three probably will,” Keil said. “Up and down our line-up, our batting average is around .300. If you get out, chances are the guy behind you is going to pick you up.
“Coach Forese said he felt we’d be a good pitching and defensive team, but he wasn’t sure about our offense. After losing the good players from last year, I knew we had it in us, but I didn’t think we’d be this good.”
Bob Revesz said the difference between last year and this year for his teammates was what happened over the past 365 days.
“If you look at last year, none of us really didn’t hit that well,” Revesz said. “This year, we’re a year older, more mature, stronger, bigger and have more patience at the plate. You don’t feel the whole weight of the team is on your shoulders. There are eight other guys in the line-up that can produce just as well without you in the line-up.”
With the way he is hitting this year, the Eagles definitely want Revesz in the line-up.
Revesz led the team in home runs with a GCHS single-season record 11, which surpassed Jeremy Chisholm’s 1999 record of nine, RBIs (29) and extra base hits (19) and slugging percentage (1.232).
“(Revesz is) a big strong kid,” Pat Forese said. “He finally started to wear his contacts to hit, so he can see the ball now. That makes a big difference. He cut his swing down to wear he can make contact and if he gets it on the barrel, he hits it hard.”
As a team, Grove City is hitting the ball hard — and far. The Eagles have belted a school record 32 long balls this year and nine players have hit one. Keil is second on the team with five, while Devine (four), Molloy (four), Trinch (three) and Derek Forese (two) have multiple homers.
“We try to go out and hit the ball,” Devine said. “Even if we start out slow, something gets us going and we all lock in from there. The big thing has been our patience. Hitting ahead in the count helps, too. I know I relax more when I’m ahead in the count.”
There has been no rhyme or reason as to when Grove City will open the flood gates. The Eagles have jumped on teams early and cruised in some games. In others, they’ve waited until the final two innings. In others still, they’ve done their damage in the middle three innings.
“Sometimes that spark comes in the first inning and others it comes in the fourth and fifth,” Pat Forese said. “When it happens, we light up and get a little more ready to hit. Once we get going, it’s hard to stop us. We’ve had different people pick us up. Danny Keil has had his days and Bobby, Garrett Molloy, Derek and Ross. You can go down through the line-up where people have carried the load.”
“In the Oil City game, we were up 2-0 in the sixth inning and came out of it with 11 runs,” Keil added. “We’re capable of it at any point of the game no matter if its the first or last inning. We can stay confident in the seventh inning that we can go out and score.”
While the offense gets all the publicity, its defense and pitching more than pick up their end of the bargain.
As a team, the Eagles have hovered around a .955 fielding percentage all year and pitched six shutouts — including three in a row over Franklin, Oil City and Slippery Rock.
On the year, four pitchers have an ERA of 2.20 or lower after pitching at least nine innings this year for a team average of 1.68.
Bob Revesz (8-1), who needs one win to become GC’s single season wins leader, leads the way with a minuscule 0.95 ERA and is followed by Keil (1.18), Devine (1.56) and Kent Denbow (2.19). Denbow and Keil are 5-0 and 3-0, respectively.
“Everyone touts our offense and it’s been pretty good,” Pat Forese said. “But going into (the second Slippery Rock) game, our team ERA was 1.37. We have some good kids on the staff.”
Keil and Bob Revesz agreed its easier to pitch with how their teammates have been hitting.
“It makes it so much better,” Keil said. “You can go out there as a whole different pitcher. You know a mistake here or there isn’t going to hurt you as much as if the score was 1-0 or 0-0.”
“You can go out there, make a mistake and know that you’re not going to lose the game because of it,” Revesz said. “You still want to throw the shutout, but you know you don’t have to.”
The players don’t really concern themselves with reaching double figures.
“We really don’t talk about it,” Molloy said. “We just try to hit the ball as hard as we can as often as we can and try to get on base. We try to make every at bat a good at bat.”
“We’re scoring a lot, but it seems routine,” Keil said. “We don’t make a big deal out of it. We just try to go out and win. Putting up these numbers over the past 19 games is helping us win and that’s all we’re pushing for.”
What they really are pushing for is a chance to still be playing June 15 in the state finals.
“At the beginning of the year, I think we were more concerned,” Devine said. “We knew we were close to some records, but now we’re just focused in on where we want to go. We want to be playing on June 15 (in the state finals). I know I have been thinking about it. I just want to have that feeling.”
By Corey J. Corbin
Phyllis A., 87, of Grove City. Arrangements by CUNNINGHAM FUNERAL HOME Inc., Grove City. Online condolences at www.cunninghamfhgc.com
Vance N., 84, of Grove City. Due to the COVID virus, private family services will be held at CUNNINGHAM FUNERAL HOME Inc., 306 Bessemer Ave., Grove City. Burial: Woodland Cemetery, Grove City. Online condolences at www.cunninghamfhgc.com.
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