Area Puts Three On All-State List
BY TOM BRAGG
CHARLESTON – It’s rare for one area to feature two All-State pitchers.
It’s also rare to find talents such as Bishop Donahue’s Hunter Kaschke and Madonna’s Luca Fuscardo, both seniors.
That’s one reason why both were selected – Kaschke for the second time – by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association as Class A first team All-State pitchers.
Wheeling Central junior Nate Bakaitas was picked as a second team infielder.
The Buffalo Bison surprised a lot of people by knocking off defending Class A state champion Charleston Catholic in the sectional round of this season’s playoffs and then slipping past Wahama before bowing out in the Region 4 title game against Gilmer County.
Senior Aaron Lewis played as big a role in that postseason success as anyone, pitching 13 consecutive shutout innings in the regional round that included a 14-strikeout performance in the Bison’s 1-0 win against the White Falcons in the semifinals.
While his season did not end in a state tournament berth for Buffalo, Lewis finished 2014 with 150 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings pitched and a 1.57 regular season earned run average and was named captain of the Class A All-State first team.
Lewis baffled hitters with his fastball this season and attributes the success he found to an offseason workout regime that included many sessions in solitude throwing at Buffalo’s stadium.
“This year was the first year I’ve ever had command on my fastball,” he said. “I’ve been able to throw hard but it went everywhere.
“Over the summer I was (at Buffalo) every other day if not everyday throwing by myself off the wall at our field. I pitched against a lot of triple-A schools during the summer. That’s what you have to do anywhere. You have to put in a lot of time when you don’t have practice in the offseason.”
Buffalo coach Jimmy Tribble said Lewis pitched with an added degree of difficulty this season as the Bison often had trouble giving the senior much in the way of run support resulting in just five wins.
“He had to win game 3-2, 4-3, 2-1 – that kind of scenario,” Tribble said. “As a pitcher that’s a tough situation to be in. As you go through the course of the game every pitch counts. He had to pitch under that duress all year.”
Tribble said Lewis developed a side-armed fastball and slider around the time the postseason began that added another element to his arsenal of pitches.
“He threw those things in the sectional and shocked us,” Tribble said. “We all said, ‘Where in the world have these been?'”
Lewis was an honorable mention selection last season and is joined on the 2014 first team by teammate Layten Good. The Buffalo senior center fielder batted .384 with 19 RBI while also posting a 1.64 earned run average as a pitcher.
Notre Dame senior shortstop Chris Petrucci, who helped the Irish to the state championship game, is one of four infielders chosen for the first team along with Sherman senior John Hunter, Charleston Catholic senior Connor Golden and Parkersburg Catholic senior Jake Ullman.
The first-team outfield includes Good and a pair of seniors from state tournament teams – St. Marys’ Jarrod Lough and Gilmer County’s Nathan Allison.
Junior Braden Griffin, who pitched the Man past St. Marys in the state semifinals, represents state champion Man as a utility player. Other first-team utility choices include St Marys senior Robbie Harper, Valley (Fayette) sophomore Druw Bowen and Notre Dame sophomore John Riddle. Clay-Batelle’s Kurt Latocha was picked as the first team catcher.
Kaschke, Latocha, Petrucci and Hunter are all returning first-team selections. Fuscardo, Bowen and Ullman were second team selections in 2013, while Golden was on the list of honorable mention recipients last season.
St. Marys catcher Scotty Riggs was picked as the second team captain. A trio of senior pitchers – T.J. McKinsey of Notre Dame, Adam Beall of Gilmer County and Hunter Bradley of Wahama – join Riggs on the second team.
Valley (Fayette) senior John Riddle, South Harrison sophomore Jacob Montgomery, Greenbrier West senior Mikey Goddard and Bakaitas were picked as second team infielders.
Williamstown senior Jake Tracewell, Charleston Catholic junior Sam McKnown and Calhoun County senior Logan make up the second team outfield while Greenbrier West senior Jared Jennings, St. Joseph senior Torin Walters, Sherman junior Aaron Lowe and St. Marys senior Matthew Houser were the utility selections.