Penn State recruit headlines senior-laden lineup for Trinity baseball
Penn State recruit Nick Riotto aims to improve his .415 batting average this season.
Order a Print
Nick Riotto doesn’t hide the fact that he’d like to improve his .415 batting average from a season ago.
Then again, if that number was in the .900s, the Trinity senior would probably find something wrong with it.
“You probably shouldn’t play (baseball) if you’re not trying to get better every year,” Riotto said. “After hitting .553 my freshman year, I’m definitely looking to get back to .500 or .600.”
Riotto is perhaps the area’s top player and is headed to Penn State for baseball. But his focus this season, outside of taking the Trinity baseball team back to the playoffs, will be finding more consistency at the plate.
“It’s an approach thing,” Riotto said. “I want to keep the ball on the ground. Maybe even bunt a few. Definitely hit a bunch of line drives. I want to go up there and make solid contact.”
Riotto is one of 12 seniors back for the Hillers, 10 of whom played varsity a season ago.
Along with Cory Humphreys, Jason Vankirk and Don McWreath, Riotto will contribute to a pitching staff that should make Trinity tough to score on.
“Having pitching is a big deal,” Trinity coach Scott Henson said. “They should nail it down for us.”
Offensively, though, the top storyline will be Riotto.
Ignore the batting average – lower than most Division I prospects, including Riotto, are willing to accept – and there are plenty of positives: His five triples and 5:2 walk-to-strikeout ratio demonstrate power to the gaps and plate discipline, his 21 RBI and 18 runs scored show plenty of run production.
Riotto hasn’t talked to Henson about any individual goals, though it’s hardly a secret he’d like to bump that batting average up a hundred points or so.
“He challenges himself every day,” Henson said. “I’m sure (an improved batting average) is on his mind.
“He has never talked to me about any kind of individual thing, but I know he cares. All kids do.”
Trinity should find plenty of competition in Section 3-AAA. Chartiers Valley went 15-7 a year ago, while South Fayette (16-8) reached the WPIAL Class AA semifinals and the PIAA quarterfinals. Waynesburg was 12-6 and reached the playoffs for a third consecutive year in Class AA, but the Raiders will have to address the loss of pitcher/shortstop Joe Monica.
The Hillers’ outfield will be Riotto in center and Ryan Moon (.300 average in eight games) in left field. A position battle will decide right field.
After hitting .267 and scoring 10 runs, Mason Tillery will shift from second base to shortstop, Henson said. Senior Lou Favetti returns at third.
Patrick Frey hit .359 and slugged .615 last year, but has since transferred to McGuffey – and faces a hearing before the WPIAL Board of Control Monday.
Frey’s former first base spot figures to be occupied at various times by Conner Fritz, McWreath and Humphreys, with sophomore Zach Cain looking to slide into Tillery’s spot at second. Dustin Galentine is a two-year starter behind the plate.
“His defense is stellar,” Henson said of Galentine. “He handles the guys real well. He’s come a long way.”
So, too, has Riotto, a member of the Observer-Reporter All-Area team the past three years.
And providing a parting reminder that he’s a complete hitter could be the difference in Trinity making it to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
“I’m sure he wants to hit for a higher average, but I’m not looking for him to be anything more than he was for us last year,” Henson said. “If he’s himself, comes to play and is a leader, I think he’s going to make this team a lot better.”
Costanzo, Lucas virtually assured election in Nov. (4932)
Election roundup (3996)
Judge orders Manning memo posted at polls be impounded (2788)
Polamalu believes injury issues are behind him (1082)
Seahawks waive Portis after DUI arrest (965)