NEW CASTLE —
John Sansone celebrated a WPIAL baseball championship last week with his Neshannock High teammates.
Yesterday, Sansone had another cause for celebration with the team.
The Detroit Tigers selected Sansone, a senior shortstop for the Lancers, in the 39th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. He was tabbed with the 1,204th overall pick.
The draft, which ended yesterday, lasted 40 rounds and a total of 1,238 players were selected.
“We were at practice, and I had no idea,” Sansone said of where he was when he got the news. “One of the coaches said it over the loud speaker and everyone was going crazy.
“I was so excited. I couldn’t believe it. I’m just so thankful it happened. I thought I would go a little higher, but I’m happy my name came up and I’m happy for the opportunity.”
Sansone said it was never a dull moment after hearing the news.
“There were a lot of highs. A lot of texts and a lot of calls,” he said.
Sansone came into Monday’s PIAA Class A playoff opener batting .645, a bit of a dip from his .661 average last season. But he has 12 doubles, six triples, seven home runs and 40 RBIs. He was 0 for 2 plus a walk in Neshannock’s 2-0 win over Bishop Guilfoyle on Monday in the openig round of the state playoffs.
Though Sansone has strong offensive numbers, he’s equally as effective at shortstop. He had a hand in all three of the Lancers’ double plays against Bishop Guilfoyle and he consistently makes the tough play look routine.
“He has some of the quickest hands I’ve ever seen,” Neshannock coach Mike Kirkwood said. “To be drafted in Major League Baseball as a position player is difficult. There’s a huge amount of work it takes to be as good as he is and it shows the character he has.
“It’s a great honor for a great person. He deserves everything he gets. Actually, he deserves more. It’s a childhood dream of every kid that picks up a baseball. And he got to live it.”