By: Ray Fisher
Friday, March 15, 2019 | 7:49 PM
The Gateway baseball team is seeking a quadfecta, as the Gators are looking to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.
Gateway ended up 12-6 overall and finished third in Section 3-5A last year. The 12 victories were the most in a season since the 2009 squad went 13-6 and earned a trip to the playoffs.
“I expect this team to compete for the section championship and make the playoffs,” coach Mark Wardzinski said. “With the new section alignment, we don’t know what to expect from some of the new teams coming in.”
Gateway hit a solid .323 as a team last year, one of the highest averages in its section.
Brendan Majocha, Ethan Frenchik and Marc Caggiano are returning senior lettermen from last year’s club, and are team captains this season.
Majocha is a shortstop, Frenchik is a first baseman/outfielder and Caggiano is a utility player. All three are multi-year lettermen and also pitchers.
“All are expected to have a big year,” Wardzinski said.
Majocha hit .413 in 2018 while Caggiano had five multi-hit performances in 16 games.
“We are a younger squad this year, but we are not a team to be slept on,” said Majocha, who was the starting quarterback the 2018 Gateway football squad that went 12-1. “Truthfully, our first goal right now is to win our section.”
Majocha has a 4.15 GPA and plans to attend either Carnegie Mellon or Case Western Reserve, where he will major in finance and play football at either school.
Frenchik, who started at wide receiver last fall, is expected to be the ace of pitching corps. He provided one of the Gators’ biggest wins last season when he threw six no-hit innings against Franklin Regional.
Frenchik also tossed five innings of no-hit ball in Gateway’s section win over McKeesport five days earlier.
“I feel that defense and pitching need to be the main priorities in high school baseball,” Wardzinski said. “Limiting runs and errors greatly increases our chances of winning. We have also been working on having good quality at-bats, working pitchers and putting the ball in play.”
Two more players expected to help form the core of this year’s team are catcher Jordan Stancovich and outfielder Sonny Comunale, both juniors. Stancovich (LB) and Comunale (CB) also started on the football team.
Others penciled in as key players on the diamond include sophomore outfielder Luke Jackson (CF), and junior infielders Anthony Cammuso (2B) and Dalton Vojnik (3B). Additionally, sophomore Joe Schulte will see varsity time as the team’s designated hitter.
Frenchik and Cammuso will anchor the Gators’ pitching staff.
Gateway posted an 11-3 record in section play last year, finishing behind Laurel Highlands (13-1) and Franklin Regional (12-2). Latrobe was 7-7.
The Gators are in Section 1-5A in 2019, along with Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Kiski Area, Penn Hills and Woodland Hills. FR and Gateway were the only teams in the section to compile winning records a year ago.
Wardzinski is in his 12th year coaching and his sixth year as a head coach. Last season, he was an assistant at Gateway after taking two years off from coaching. Before that, he was the Gators’ field boss for five seasons.
“Coach Wardzinski is in his first year back as head coach and he expects big things from this team and from the three captains,” Majocha said.
Gateway’s veteran coach believes defense will be one of the Gators’ strengths this spring.
“We have multiple players at each position that can play defense well,” he said. “We have been working on our defense indoors, and are trying to get outside as much as possible.”