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Baseball: South Park falls in PIAA final

Written by Mike White on .

Mike White covered Friday's PIAA Class 4A baseball championship between South Park and Dallas.

Mitchell Roell slides safely onto first base during the PIAA state championship game between South Park High School and Dallas High School at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Friday.(Photo: Mitchell Roell slides safely into first base during the PIAA state championship game between South Park High School and Dallas High School at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Friday. Antonella Crescimbeni/Post-Gazette)

"UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — South Park's baseball team brought its "BASE2" theory to Penn State on Friday. It was on full display on a sign in the Eagles' dugout.

Coach Steve Wetzel believes the letters in that slogan spell victory. The sign reads B equals big inning. A equals answer. S equals score first. E equals extend lead. The 2 equals two-out hits.

"That's the script we try to follow," Bucci said. "If you hit three of those five keys, you usually win."

But when you don't hit any, you get shut out in a state championship game."

 

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Softball: South Park defeats Pine Grove in PIAA Class 3A championship

Written by Sarah Spencer on .

Sarah Spencer covered Friday's PIAA Class 3A softball championship between South Park and Pine Grove.

Justine Dean holds the trophy in the air as her teammates rush towards her after winning the PIAA Class 3A championship at Beard Field on Friday, June 16, 2017. South Park High School defeated Pine Grove 4-2.(Photo: Justine Dean holds the trophy in the air as her teammates rush towards her after winning the PIAA Class 3A championship at Beard Field on Friday, June 16. South Park defeated Pine Grove, 4-2. Antonella Crescimbeni/Post-Gazette)

"UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For more than 3½ hours Friday, South Park had a one-run lead and pitcher Justine Dean had a no-hitter.

Then, the game resumed after the lengthy weather delay, and Dean limited Pine Grove to two runs and nine hits, with little drop-off from the Eagles offense. As a result, South Park grabbed a 4-2 win against Pine Grove in the PIAA Class 3A softball championship at Nittany Lion Softball Park. It was Eagles' first PIAA championship.

"We wanted to keep the momentum going, obviously, because we had it our way," shortstop Kaitlyn Morrison, who went 3 for 4, said of the team's mentality coming out of the delay.

South Park entered the championship at 20-3, having beaten Southmoreland in the WPIAL Class 3A consolation game."

 

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Baseball: A jail guard by day, Bucci coaches South Park to big things

Written by Mike White on .

Mike White profiles South Park baseball coach Steve Bucci.

2017 0615 SouthPark Baseball(Photo: South Park coach Steve Bucci, left, walks through the dugout as his team plays Blackhawk in the PIAA Class 4A baseball semifinals on Monday at North Allegheny. Bucci would become the first WPIAL coach to win state championships at different schools. Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette)

"Steve Bucci has been working as a guard at the Allegheny County Jail for 21 years. Part of his duties takes him to the maximum security area.

Some days, the job can be taxing on Bucci. What often lifts him up is his moonlighting position — as South Park High School's baseball coach. But with Bucci and coaching, it's a give-and-take situation, because he has become the master at lifting up programs.

Bucci is in his second term as South Park's coach and has guided the Eagles to a place they've never landed — a PIAA title game. South Park plays Dallas for the Class 4A championship Friday at Penn State.

Bucci's story is a unique one because you won't find many jail guards who double as high school head coaches. But he could also become the most unique baseball coach. If South Park beats Dallas, Bucci, 47, would be the first baseball coach in WPIAL history to win state championships at two different schools."

 

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Softball: 2017 PIAA Class 3A Championship Preview

Written by Brad Everett on .

The game: PIAA Class 3A championship
The teams: South Park vs. Pine Grove
Where and when: Nittany Lion Softball Park, Penn State, Friday, 4 p.m.

South Park Eagles
Record: 20-3
District finish: WPIAL third-place finisher
How they got here: (First round) Titusville, 16-1; (Quarterfinals) Ellwood City, 11-0; (Semifinals) Philipsburg-Osceola, 4-0.
PIAA titles: None
Last time in final: First appearance
What you should know: You would have thought South Park had advanced to the PIAA final before. After all, the Eagles have sure made their state playoff journey look easy. The difficult part was getting in, but the Eagles did that by beating Southmoreland in the WPIAL third-place consolation. What has followed is a three-game run that has seen the Eagles outscore their opponents, 31-1. One of those games was against Ellwood City, the WPIAL champion which came into the game with a perfect record. The Eagles have a lethal offense paced by Pitt recruit Katlyn Pavlick and Penn State recruit Kaitlyn Morrison. Pavlick leads the team in batting, home runs, RBIs and runs scored. Morrison had an RBI triple in the semifinal triumph against District 6 champion Philipsburg-Osceola.
Player to watch: Justine Dean. As Dean showed in the semifinal win, she is an awfully good two-way player. Dean was outstanding on the mound, firing a one-hitter. And for good measure, she sparked the South Park offense with a two-run double. She is 16-3 on the mound and ranks second on the team in hitting and RBIs.

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Baseball: 2017 PIAA Class 4A Championship Preview

Written by Brad Everett on .

The game: PIAA Class 4A championship
The teams: South Park vs. Dallas
Where and when: Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, Penn State, Friday, 1 p.m.

South Park Eagles
Record: 23-3
District finish: WPIAL runner-up
How they got here: (First round) Clearfield, 4-0; (Quarterfinals) Hopewell, 7-2; (Semifinals) Blackhawk, 10-3.
PIAA titles: None
Last time in final: First appearance
What you should know: South Park has lost just once in its last 11 games, and the Eagles avenged that setback Monday by upsetting Blackhawk. In a rematch of the WPIAL championship won by Blackhawk, 3-0, South Park made a statement offensively by putting up 10 runs against a team that had given up only 35 all season. It was the first time the Cougars surrendered 10 runs in a game since 2013. Kyle Thompson and Josh Wagner each had two hits and two RBIs. Adam Morris and Kevin Vaupel also had two hits apiece. Vaupel tossed six innings and was the winning pitcher. He also picked up the win against District 9 champion Clearfield in the first round.
Player to watch: Kyle Thompson. It's still left to be seen who will start on the mound for the Eagles, but there's a good chance it could be Thompson, a senior who earned the victory in the quarterfinal triumph against Hopewell.