New Castle News

Neshannock

July 1, 2012

High School Baseball All-Stars: Sansone, Strittmatter named co-MVPs again

NEW CASTLE — John Sansone and Alex Strittmatter were a nightmare duo for opposing baseball teams.

On the mound. In the batter’s box. In the field. Teams had to contend with the Lancers’ dynamic senior duo.

And, often the opposition failed to come away with success.

Sansone, a shortstop, batted .597 (40 for 57) with 40 RBIs, 34 runs scored, 12 doubles, six triples and seven home runs. All of which were tops in the county. He added 18 stolen bases as well.

A Florida State University recruit, Sansone was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 39th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. He was tabbed with the 1,204th overall pick. Sansone elected to continue his baseball career at Florida State and major in sports management.

“When you look at everything he did this year, it was totally amazing,” Neshannock Mike Kirkwood said. “The amount of pressure he had on himself from pro scouts and things was incredible.

“To be able to mentally handle all the things really says a lot. That’s an awful lot of pressure on an 18-year-old kid and he handled it great.”

Strittmatter, a right-handed pitcher/first baseman, baffled opposing hitters. He was 9-0 on the hill in 55 innings with a 0.87 earned run average. Strittmatter struck out 74 batters and walked just 12.

Those numbers were all tops on the team. The walks were the lowest among the team’s starters. Strittmatter’s ERA was tops in the county.

“He was decent as a 10th-grader. But his velocity has grown,” Kirkwood said. “His location and how to pitch people improved. He really grew in that aspect of pitching.

“Alex is not a thrower, but a pitcher now.”

The tandem was voted as Lawrence County’s baseball co-MVPs for the second straight season, as voted on by the New Castle News sports department. The two were instrumental in leading the Lancers to a 12-0 mark in WPIAL Section 3-A and 22-3 overall. Neshannock captured its second-straight district title as well.

“It’s very special,” Sansone said of the two consecutive district titles. “I’m very proud to say I played for Neshannock.”

Said Strittmatter, “Just to be in the championship game is a pretty special feeling. You’ve accomplished a lot being in that game.”

Sansone just missed out on batting over .600 two years in a row. Last year, Sansone batted .661. He was 0 for 5 with a walk this year in the PIAA playoffs, which dropped his average just below .600.

“I think I did better this year even though my average wasn’t as good,” Sansone said. “I had more power numbers and I was more of a polished player.”

Strittmatter limited opposing hitters to just a .202 average. But he never faced Sansone, except in practice.

“He’s a unique player. Unbelievable,” Strittmatter said of Sansone. “What he’s been able to accomplish with his average is pretty sensational.

“I can’t even imagine batting over .600. Props to him. He works his tail off. It’s a lot easier knowing he’s on my side. Having him behind me turning the double play is a big boost.”

Strittmatter more than helps himself at the plate. He hit .431, which was second on the team, with two home runs, 21 RBIs and 23 runs scored. And when he’s not on the hill, he’s a star at first base as well.

“His batting is amazing,” Sansone said of Strittmatter. “He’s always putting the ball in play, no matter what.

“He did amazing on the mound, too. He’s awesome in the field. Every time he’s over at first, I’m not worried a bit about my throws over there.”

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