Blue Devils prep for District 6 playoffs


Kerry Naylor

Travis Luensmann looks to impress in the District VI playoffs.

Jake Miller, Sports Editor

The Bellwood-Antis Blue Devil baseball team will be looking to improve upon last years district playoff run when they face Portage today at home.

The Blue Devils (16-3, 11-2 ICC) lost in the District 6 2A finals last year when they lost against Bishop McCort 5-3. The Crushers, seeded first in this year’s tournament, fall on the other side of the bracket, making it possible for a rematch between the two schools, but before the Blue Devils can make it to the finals, they’ll have to go through quite a  few good teams, including number two seed, Bishop Guilfoyle. BG will face Blairsville in the first round, and Bishop McCort will have a bye.

B-A, on the other hand, will face the sixth seed Portage. The Blue Devils and Mustangs have not played in the past four seasons, meaning it will be the first time these two rosters have ever played. The Mustangs (11-6, 8-3 WPAC), haven’t played much competition, and with nearly all of their wins coming against teams with losing records, a team like B-A could give them trouble. The Mustangs, do however, have wins over bigger schools such as Greater Johnstown, Central Cambria, and Westmont, and played Penn Cambria, home of MLB prospect Mason Ronan, to extra innings.

As for their match-up with Portage, B-A will most-likely rely on their sophomore pitching duo of Travis Luensmann and Mark Stewart. The pair, along with sporadic appearances by Caden Nagle and Alex Schmoke, among others, have been Bellwood-Antis’ go to tandem. Meanwhile at bat, Luensmann has been B-A’s most consistent slugger with an all-star batting average of .493 through 19 games. The trio of Trent Walker, Nick Plank, and Ian McFarland fall between the .353 and .344 range, and only two of B-A’s consistent starters have a batting average lower than .300.

Bellwood-Antis coach Steve Conlon agrees that his starters must keep up their preformances if the Blue Devils will advance. “We will need to get quality pitching as well as some timely hitting while playing good defense,” the coach explained.

In contrast to B-A’s spectacular form at bat, only three of Portage’s main men have batting averages over .300 and none average over .400. Portage also doesn’t have the pitching depth that the Blue Devils have on their roster. Most of the Mustangs games have been split between three pitchers, two whose ERA hovers around 1.80 and another who averages a 3.20 on the mound.

Comparing these numbers to B-A the game should heavily favor the Blue Devils, but sports can be fickle and given Portage’s performance against bigger schools and acclaimed pitchers, the match-up could be better than the numbers show.

Coach Conlon also looks ahead to this years tournament saying, “We are looking forward to the challenge of the playoffs.”

The game, held at Bellwood-Antis’ varsity baseball field will begin at 4:00 and the winner will move on to face the winner of BG and Blairsville.