Two pitchers who had miniscule ERAs and three players who were part of WPIAL championship teams lead this year’s MSA Sports Diamond Studs all-star baseball team.
The team is made up of the top 10 players in the WPIAL and is picked by the MSA Sports staff. The two pitchers who rarely gave up a run were Keystone Oaks’ Jared Skolnicki and Blackhawk’s Brendan McKay. They were also neck and neck in the race for MSA Player of the Year.
The three players from WPIAL championship teams were North Allegheny’s James Meeker, South Park’s Nick Yobbi and Beaver’s Ben Herstine. Also Seneca Valley’s Connor Coward, Hopewell’s Logan Johnston and OLSH’s Preston Falascino played in WPIAL championship games.
Here is a look at 2013 Player of the Year and the rest of the Diamond Studs all-star team.
2013 MSA SPORTS PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
JARED SKOLNICKI – KEYSTONE OAKS, P-OF, SR.
Skolnicki wins player of the year, but you could also say he could be the comeback player of the year. Skolnicki missed his entire junior season with a knee injury. This year, he put a lot of hurting on opponents and helped Keystone Oaks to the most successful season in school history. The Eagles made the WPIAL semifinals and qualified for the PIAA playoffs for the first time.
Skolnicki was a force both as a pitcher and hitter. He finished 11-1 and his only loss was to South Park, 1-0, in the WPIAL semifinals. However, Skolnicki came back and beat South Park, 3-0, in the PIAA quarterfinals. It was the only loss of the season for South Park.
For the season, Skolnicki pitched 76 innings and struck out 111. He gave up only four runs and three earned. He allowed only 36 hits and walked 14.
As a hitter, Skolnicki hit .435 with three triples, four doubles and 10 RBIs.
Next season, Skolnicki will play at Kent State.
BRENDAN McKAY – BLACKHAWK, P-1B-OF, JR.
McKay is only a junior but has showed enough talent to earn scholarship offers from Louisville and West Virginia, among others. Louisville played in the College World Series this year. McKay was the Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year. He was 7-0 as a pitcher and gave up only one earned run (three overall) in 60 innings. His ERA was 0.09 and struck out 117 in 60 innings. McKay has been Blackhawk’s ace for three years and has a 22-1 record. McKay also batted better than .400. He has batted better than .400 every year in his high school career.
CONNOR COWARD – SENECA VALLEY, P, JR.
Seneca Valley had a few good pitchers this year, but Coward became the No. 1 pitcher for the Raiders. He was an outfielder for Seneca Valley last year. This season, his only loss came in the WPIAL championship game. Coward finished 8-1 and had an ERA of 1.60. He struck out 80 in 61 innings. He figures to be one of the top players in the WPIAL next season.
JAMES MEEKER – NORTH ALLEGHENY, 3B-P, SR.
There was nothing meek about Meeker this season. He did the job offensively, defensively and pitching for the Tigers. Meeker hit .407 and was a good contact hitter. He was good defensively and came through as a pitcher a number of times. He was 4-0 with one save and pitched one perfect game.
LOGAN JOHNSTON – HOPEWELL, 2B, SR.
Emerged as a bona fide star after having a big season for the Vikings and helping them to the WPIAL AAA final game. Teamed with Ryan Cox to form one of the most formidable shortstop-second base combinations in the WPIAL. Johnston hit .493 with seven home runs. He had two doubles, two triples and 31 runs scored and 31 RBIs.
NICK YOBBI – SOUTH PARK, P-OF, SR.
South Park had a memorable season, winning a WPIAL title with an undefeated record. Yobbi was one of the primary reasons for the Eagles’ success. He was dominant as a pitcher and hitter. He finished 7-0 with a 0.86 ERA. He struck out 63 in 49 innings. He also had a .500 batting aveage with 34 runs and 32 RBIs and four doubles. He has signed to play at South Carolina-Aiken, a Division II school.
BEN HERSTINE – BEAVER, C, SR.
When Beaver won the WPIAL Class AA championship in 2008, Ben Herstine was the team’s batboy. Five years later, he swung a big bat in helping the Bobcats to another title. During the regular season, he hit .529 and tied for second in the WPIAL for home runs with five. He also had 26 RBIs during the regular season. Herstine continued to be a key – offensively and defensively – as Beaver won the WPIAL and made it to the PIAA championship game.
PRESTON FALASCINO – OUR LADY OF THE SACRED HEART, P-SS, Sr.
Preston was impressive. OLSH made it to the WPIAL championship for the first time in school history and Falascino was the force in the run to the title game. He was 8-2 as a pithcer and strck out 85 in 64 innings. He also had an ERA of 0.88. He was one of the top power hitters in the WPIAL during the regular season and finished with a .500 average with 11 doubles, five home runs, 32 RBIs and 39 runs. He will play next season at Slippery Rock University.
ANTHONY MALKY – RIVERVIEW, P-SS, Sr.
Malky was the king of K’s this year. He finished the regular season as the WPIAL strikeout leader with 107 in 61 innings. He had a 6-3 record with a 1.25 ERA and helped Riverview make the WPIAL Class A playoffs. He hit .577 with 10 doubles. He showed excellent speed also and had 25 stolen bases. Malky has signed to play next season at Akron.
DYLAN KUGLER – SERRA CATHOLIC, C, SR.
Nodody in the entire WPIAL hit better than Kugler in the regular season. Kugler led the WPIAL in hitting with a .610 average and was also fourth in runs with 30. He helped Serra to the WPIAL semifinals.