New Castle News

Sports

July 1, 2012

High School Baseball All-Stars: Talent abounds on county’s diamonds

NEW CASTLE — The Ellwood City Lincoln High baseball team came into the season focused.

The Wolverines went 15-5 in 2011, but missed the WPIAL playoffs on a tiebreaker.

“They were determined. Unfinished business is what they said,” Ellwood City coach Jeff Fotia said. “That was our motto from day one. That was something the team came up with.”

The Wolverines parlayed that belief into a 21-3 record and a WPIAL Class AA championship. Ellwood City beat rival Riverside once in the regular season to share the Section 5 title and again in the district title tilt as well.

But North Star shut down the Wolverines in the first round of the PIAA playoffs, 2-0, to end their season. The state playoff blanking came after scoring 36 runs in three WPIAL playoff games.

“The guys had a great season, but we lost a heartbreaker down the stretch,” Fotia said. “I’m sure they’re happy. They were real happy with the WPIAL title.

“But they were real depressed about not moving on in the state playoffs.”

Four Ellwood City senior players received Lawrence County all-star status — Christian Kerns, Anthony Carusone, Greg Lynn and Jared Vetica.

Fotia leaned heavily on Kerns in the postseason, as he started all four of the Wolverines’ games.

“We just always felt like we were going to win with him on the mound,” Fotia said of Kerns. “I felt it wasn’t going to be a field day for the other team.

Kerns, a lefthanded pitcher and Fotia’s nephew, was 11-3 with 94 strikeouts in 761⁄3 innings pitched. He had a 1.83 earned run average. Kerns gave up just two earned runs in his three losses, two were by shutout — 1-0 to Riverside and the North Star setback.

“What makes him tough is he drops down and can create a lot of movement away,” Fotia said. “He can throw the slow curve and he has a nice fastball; his curveball and changeup are strong as well.

“He was a tough luck loser in all three of his losses.”

At the plate, Kerns fashioned a .424 average with a homer and 19 RBIs.

“He has confidence at the plate,” Fotia said. “He has quick hands and he has good power to the gaps.”

Carusone completed the Wolverines’ strong 1-2 punch on the mound. A righty, Carusone was 7-0 with a save in 482⁄3 innings pitched. He struck out 41 and recorded a 1.01 ERA.

Carusone played third when he wasn’t on the hill.

“Anthony has good velocity; he’s about identical with Kerns,” Fotia said. “He has a good fastball, a good changeup and a good curveball. They both keep the ball down.

“It was nice to have a righty and a lefty we could throw in there. He’s a good competitor.”

Carusone cashed in a .388 batting average with 18 RBIs.

“He was our No. 4 hitter and he never batted an eye,” Fotia said. “He has power and he can hit the curveball.”

Vetica, a left fielder, hit .417 with nine RBIs.

“Jared is a great team leader,” Fotia said. “He has great hands and he was always a great outfielder.

“He always makes contact with the ball at the plate and he gets a great jump on the ball in the outfield.”

Lynn was a strong fielder up the middle at second base.

“He was solid at second; very, very quick,” Fotia said. “He has great hands and phenomenal range at second base.”

Lynn batted .430 with 34 hits, 23 RBIs, 29 runs scored and 16 stolen bases, all of which were tops on the team.

“That little guy has power,” Fotia said. “He can hit it to all fields. He’s very fast; he helped us cause all kinds of havoc on the bases. That was probably our strongest point.”

Fotia acknowledged the importance of losing three key seniors.

“It’s hard to replace pitching. Pitching is the name of the game,” Fotia said. “That’s going to be hard to replace. We have some young arms that just didn’t get experience.

“That was a great group of seniors. They could all play and they all worked hard, offensively and defensively.”

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