Wildcats play Class 5A sub-regional game today

MILL HALL — Central Mountain has faced and beaten Hollidaysburg in back-to-back district championship games. And now for the second consecutive season the Wildcats are tasked with taking on Cathedral Prep in a PIAA Class 5A sub-regional game. It serves as a play-in with the winner advancing to the state playoffs.

“These boys are excited to be back on the baseball field,” Central Mountain coach Mike Kramer said. “It’s a sub-regional game to get into the state playoffs, but it’s another baseball game. They’re excited about baseball, they’re excited about playing so we’re looking forward to playing tomorrow.”

Central Mountain won its district championship, 10-3, over Hollidaysburg last Wednesday. The win gave the Wildcats a week to prepare, and they devoted their practices to revisiting the fundamentals of the sport.

“We’ve been going back to the basics, and have been making sure we maintain our fundamentals because pitching and defense wins baseball games,” Kramer said. “So we have to really focus on executing.

“The weather kind of threw us a curveball the last few days, so we had to adapt, adjust and go inside. But I’m very pleased with their approach (practicing inside) and how they’ve worked hard.”

SIZING UP THE RAMBLERS

Cathedral Prep (13-8) advanced to the sub regional matchup after defeating Meadville, 5-3, to win the District 10 crown. They’ve won four of their previous six games, and defeated the Wildcats, 17-6, in last year’s sub regional matchup.

“They’re filled with a lot of good athletes, and they have some guys on their team with good pedigrees who have already committed to colleges,” Kramer said of the Ramblers. “There’s some decent players on their team, and they beat us last year. So we want to rebound from that loss last year and come out and play our best game this year.”

Collectively, the team is hitting .311 at the plate. Rockne Seidel leads Cathedral Prep with a Rambler-high .429 average, 30 hits, 23 RBIs and three home runs, including a two-home run performance against the Wildcats last season. Teammate Alex Baldi is second on the team with a .383 average and 18 RBIs.

“Seidel is definitely a threat for them, and we have to be careful as we approach him,” Kramer said. “And we have to keep Alex Baldi off the bases. He has some good speed, so we want to go after him, play defense behind him and keep him off the base path.”

On the mound the Ramblers use an assortment of pitchers as 13 athletes have thrown for Cathedral Prep this season. Senior Jimmy Colvin has handled the lion’s share of the mound duties as he leads the team with 42 2/3 innings pitched and 59 strikeouts.

Kramer expects Colvin to start today for the Ramblers and Sediel to handle relief duties in the game.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Central Mountain’s pitching has been led by the strong arms of Aaron Swartz and Zane Probst. The duo needs to continue their pitching excellence today to increase Central Mountain’s odd at winning.

Swartz, the team’s typical starter, leads CM with a 3-1 record and 35 strikeouts on the season. Probst handles the closing duties, but matched Swartz with a team-high three wins and racked up 33 strikeouts in just 23 innings.

“We’ve been fortunate to have solid pitching with Aaron as the starting pitcher taking us deep into the game, and with Zane being able to come in and slam the door,” Kramer said. “And we have other guys ready to come into the mix as we go through and play more games. So it’s nice to know we have quality pitchers who can keep us in baseball games.”

MOTHER NATURE

Central Mountain is scheduled to face Cathedral Prep at 2 p.m., but weather could postpone the event.

Looming weather already pushed up the start time from 4 p.m. to 2 p.m., and relocated the game from Slippery Rock University to Neshannock Township High School in New Castle.

“(Today’s) weather forecast doesn’t look real good, so the game may me pushed to Friday,” Kramer said. “It’s out of our control. We prepared ourselves, we’re ready for (today) and if it’s not Thursday we’ll be ready for Friday.”

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