SHIPPENVILLE — Three teams that made strong impacts on the District 9 scene are where the D9Sports.com District 9 Baseball Award winners for the year come from for the 2017 season.
District 9 Class A champion Oswayo Valley, which won its second district title in three years, has the D9Sports.com MVP – Garren Black – and the D9Sports.com Offensive Player of the Year – Garret Babcock.
Clarion, the District 9 Class 1A runner-up that then made it to the PIAA Class A title game before falling 2-0 to Meyersdale, features the Pitcher of the Year in Reed Anthony and the Manager of the Year in Rob Jewett, while Brookville, the District 9 Class AA champion and a PIAA semifinalist, features the Rookie of the Year in Aaron Park.
Black, a junior, had a phenomenal year both on the mound and at the plate for the Green Wave, who advanced to the D9 A title game for the third straight year and winning it for the second time during that span – they also were the 2015 champions – with a 4-1, eight-inning win over Clarion. Oswayo Valley then went on to the PIAA quarterfinals, where it lost to Greensburg Central Catholic.
One of the top pitchers in the district, Black was 10-1 with a 0.83 earned run average. In 59 innings of work, the lefty struck out 79.
Black was almost as good at the plate, hitting .413 with seven doubles, one triple, 20 runs batted ins and six stolen bases.
Anthony was incredible all season, finishing 11-1 with a 0.40 ERA. In 70 innings, the crafty lefty allowed just 11 runs, four earned, while giving up 38 hits and 23 walks for a WHIP (average of walks and hits per innings pitched) of 0.87. He also struck out 76, and opponents hit just .153 against him.
At his best during the PIAA playoffs, Anthony pitched in three of Clarion’s four PIAA games – he wasn’t eligible to pitch in the title game – throwing 17 innings without allowing a run. He struck out 18, walked only two and gave up eight hits during the postseason.
His best game came against Greensburg Central Catholic in the PIAA semifinals when he went six scoreless innings, giving up three hits and a walk while striking out seven in helping the Bobcats defeat the WPIAL runner-up Centurions, 1-0, on a walk-off error in the bottom of the seventh off a ball he hit. That came just four days after he threw a three-hit shutout against Elk County Catholic in the quarterfinals.
Babcock was another big reason Oswayo Valley won the District 9 Class A title while advancing to the PIAA quarterfinals. He hit .422 with 10 doubles, four triples, one home run and 26 RBIs while stealing 15 of 17 bases. He also walked 17 times and was hit by a pitch while producing an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.286.
Park earns his second D9Sports.com Rookie of Year award this school year after also garnering the honor in the basketball season.
The freshman righty quickly matured into one of the top players in District 9, hitting .413 with four doubles, one triple and 19 RBIs for the District 9 Class AA champion Raiders, who advanced to the PIAA semifinals despite having only two seniors and one junior on the roster. He was also one of two aces on the mound for Brookville, going 8-3 with a 1.53 ERA. In 59 innings of work, he struck out 45.
Jewett guided the Bobcats to a 21-4 record on the year, a school record for wins. Clarion finished second in District 9 Class A, suffering the tough, extra-inning loss to Oswayo Valley in the title game. But the Bobcats rebounded by winning three consecutive PIAA playoff games, defeating Berlin Brothersvalley 4-3, Elk County Catholic 3-0, and Greensburg Central Catholic 1-0, to earn a berth in the PIAA Class A title game for the first time in school history.
While Clarion, the first Clarion County team to reach a PIAA title game in a ball sport since Keystone football in 1989, didn’t win the title falling 2-0 to Meyersdale, they did become just the eighth District 9 baseball team to reach the finals.