What makes Josh Staniscia so important to Washington & Jefferson College’s baseball team is he can make all the plays expected of a standout player.
What makes Staniscia so special is that he is equally adept at doing the unexpected.
Staniscia, a senior center fielder and one of the top baseball players in W&J’s history, launched a laser shot over the right field fence for a three-run homer, his first of the season, that capped a five-run fifth inning and propelled the Presidents to a 14-4 victory over rival Waynesburg Thursday in the first round of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference tournament at Ross Memorial Park.
The Presidents (28-13) will play Thomas More (21-17), which erupted for seven runs in the third inning to a 14-5 victory over Bethany, at noon today in a double-elimination game.
Staniscia had one of two home runs in the win over Waynesburg. Kyle Smith launched a two-run blast in the second inning and Staniscia made it 7-0 with his. Staniscia doesn’t hit many home runs because his job as the No. 3 hitter is to spray the ball through the infield, drive in runs, get on base and score.
“I haven’t seen too many pitches inside to pull,” said the left-handed hitter. “I take the ball to the opposite field. I knew this one was gone when I hit it.”
Staniscia has six home runs in his four years at W&J, all as a starting outfielder. He is the program’s career leader in hits (239), triples (18), and total bases (335). He is second in doubles with 41 and third in runs (145) and stolen bases (48).
“He hits the ball so hard that they usually don’t get high enough to (get over the fence),” said W&J coach Jeff Mountain. “Anytime you can expand the lead the way he did and force (Waynesburg) to get into their bullpen, that’s big.”
Staniscia was sixth in the PAC with a .389 average and his five triples, 36 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 16 tries led the conference.
“Anything I can do to help this team, I’ll do it,” said Staniscia. “My job is to drive in runs and that’s what I try to do. I didn’t have many home runs in high school, I think just five in my senior year.”
Staking Eddie Nogay to a 7-0 lead is not a good idea for opponents. Nogay went eight strong innings, allowing only one earned run, and threw 106 pitches in raising his season record to 6-1 and his career mark to 28-2.
Waynesburg caught a break in the seventh inning, and got back into the game, when left fielder Nick Vento dropped a fly ball with the bases loaded. Three runs scored to cut W&J’s lead to 7-4.
But the Presidents came right back, scoring seven runs over the final two innings. Waynesburg went through four relievers over those two innings.
“We scared them a little bit,” said Waynesburg coach Mike Humiston. “Nogay did what we thought he would do. You can’t make mistakes against them. Hopefully, we’ll se them again.”
Every player in W&J’s starting lineup had a hit. Vento, Kyle Smith, Tyler Schultz and Kyle McLain each had two apiece. Staniscia and Smith each had three RBI and Michael Ruffing, Staniscia, Ron Peirish and Anthony Paladino each scored twice. W&J pounded out 13 hits and touched up Brian Resnik, a Burgettstown High School graduate, for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Thomas More will start Logan Miller against the Presidents. He has a 6-2 record with a 2.92 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 62 innings. The Saints led the PAC with a .317 team batting average and 14 home runs.
“They are a good hitting team,” Mountain said. “They can swing the bats.”