Four Tigers, one Indian draw TVL?baseball all-star honors
The Tri-Valley League baseball all-star teams include four players from East Juniata and one from Juniata.
East Juniata’s four all stars were tied with league champion Halifax and Upper Dauphin for the most selections from any team. Junior Nick Lorenz and senior Ryan Stuck were named to the first team and senior Jesse Watts and junior Dalton Rowe were both second-team selections.
Lorenz had an incredible season both from the mound and at the plate, and statistics provided by the league back this up. Lorenz led the TVL in strikeouts with 55 and runs batted in with 26. The junior was also among the league leaders in earned run average at 2.19 during his 32 innings pitched.
“Nick was a real asset and his pitching kept us in a lot of games,” Tigers manager Tim Brubaker said. “He hit third in the batting order for us which is a position I feel needs to produce RBIs. We had a lineup where a lot of guys reached base and Nick came through for us in a lot of situations.”
The other Tiger first-team selection, Ryan Stuck, was potent from the mound as well, as he racked up five wins on the year to help East Juniata (13-3) to a second-place finish behind Halifax.
“Ryan was one of the leaders of our team and he showed a lot of team spirit,” Brubaker said of the senior. “I really appreciated that out of him. He had some really big hits for us throughout the year and he would always play wherever I asked him to play.”
Despite not recording the lofty number of strikeouts that Lorenz was able to, Stuck was able to post a WHIP of 1.179 over his 28 innings pitched, which was sixth best in the league.
“I was so fortunate to have both of those guys,” Brubaker said. “We tried to split it up so that each would pitch against each team in the league. They probably would have been co-aces of the all-star team if they made it like that.”
Rowe, a second-team selection, had a great junior season from the plate. His .467 batting average and 21 hits both led the Tigers and ranked among the league leaders in both categories. His 19 runs batted in ranked only behind Lorenz on East Juniata and were good enough for third in the entire league. His speed also helped him lead the league in triples with three
“He really came on towards the end of the season,” Brubaker said. “He has real good speed and he’s a competitor that will be back for us next season.”
East Juniata’s other second-team selection was Jesse Watts, who drew Brubaker’s praise for being the team’s primary catcher this season. Watts also solidified the middle of the formidable East Juniata lineup.
“He led the team in home runs and was very clutch in producing RBIs,” Brubaker said. “He hit fourth behind Nick so he had a lot of at bats with nobody on base. Otherwise, he probably would have had more RBIs.”
Juniata team captain Stephen Zearfaus was the Indians’ lone all star, being named to the second team. The senior outfielder provided manager Nick Beward with a speed threat at the top of the lineup en route to a double-digit campaign in the steals category.
Beward said Zearfaus’s great defense in both right and center field was something he could rely on the past three years, as Zearfaus has been a varsity starter since he was a sophomore.
“Stephen’s one of those guys where if a ball is hit to the outfield, you’re pretty sure he’s going to make the play,” Beward said. “He would lay out for any ball hit to him.”
Beward also pointed out that Zearfaus’ leadership skills are another part of what made him an exceptional player and deserving of all-star status.
“Stephen was a good, strong leader,” Beward said. “He wasn’t much of a vocal guy but he would let his play do the talking. He led physically for us. He is going to be a tough, tough player to replace.”