Pine-Richland 9U baseball team goes 5 for 5 in tournaments
While the talent the Pine-Richland baseball program possesses at the high school level has been on full display during the past few seasons -- with a WPIAL championship and playoff appearances the last two years as evidence -- the most prosperous Rams team on the diamond may just be one of its youngest.
This year, the Pine-Richland 9U travel baseball team played in five tournaments and walked away from each with a championship trophy.
Coach Jason Henne and his boys entered tournaments at Montour, Pine-Richland, Moon, Hershey and Upper St. Clair and came out on top in every single one, totaling a perfect 26-0 record in the process.
“It is a talented group of kids. But the other thing that they have going for them is that there’s a true trust in one another,” Henne said.
“It’s a group of kids that get along really well, and there’s just no quit in the group. It’s a lot of fun to watch them play. They do a lot of things well from a fundamentals standpoint. And it’s a well-rounded team. They can hit from top to bottom. There’s no one or two superstars that we’re depending on. Batters from the one spot to No. 11 can all hit for us.”
The Rams have utilized that team-first mentality to compile impressive results as they have been toppling squads from the Pittsburgh area and elsewhere for three years now.
In the three summers the unit has been together, it has qualified for the championship game in 14 out of 15 tournaments, with 12 championship trophies and two runner-up finishes. In that span, the team has an overall record of 72-5.
However, Henne said he knows at some point, the players on his team may gravitate toward spending their summers with an AAU baseball team -- as some talented youngsters do. Or perhaps they may develop an interest in another sport that could consume their summers.
With that in mind, the youth baseball skipper said he is hoping to keep the championship group together, for the most part, by energizing them in a variety of ways.
“What we try to do with this group is we continue to challenge them and keep them interested, whether it be by traveling somewhere once a year for a tournament, like we did with Hershey this year or with the Cal Ripken tournament in Aberdeen, Md., last year,” Henne said.
“Or last year, we put them in a couple of 9U tournaments when they were an 8U team. Those things keep them active in baseball, and hopefully keeps them excited to be a part of a Pine-Richland team.”
The roster for this summer’s team includes Mauro Didiano, Austin McGuire, Noah Taggart, Adam Henne, Max Ulyas, Austin Cwynar, Michael Malady, Jackson Naik, Owen Thompson, Nico Aiello and Max Inesso. The team was coached by Jason Henne, Mike Thompson, Larry McGuire, Nimish Naik and Tony Aiello.