Canon-McMillan's Piechnick had 10-hit streak ..... other notes

Written by Mike White on .

Some items that fell off my laptop.

Streaking has become popular in WPIAL baseball this spring, and nobody has taken off their clothes.

This blog has documented impressive streaks of Blackhawk's Brendan McKay and Norwin's J.J. Matijevic. McKay hasn't allowed a run in 37 innings dating back to last season. Matijevic has hit a home run in six consecutive games and is riding a string of 10 consecutive hits.

Add Canon-McMillan's Teagan Piechnick to those who have had a memorable streak. Piechnick, a senior center fielder, also had a streak of 10 consecutive hits. He had 16 plate appearances in the streak that included six walks, which meant he reached base 16 consecutive times. The streak ended Monday with a flyout against Peters Township.

During the streak, Piechnick had four home runs, three doubles and three singles. He had 12 runs and 10 RBIs during the streak.

For the season, he is batting .633 (19 of 30) with an on-base percentage of .744. He has six home runs and 17 RBIs. He has helped Canon-McMillan to a 7-2 record.

***** Weather-wise, this is starting to look like a bad year for spring sports. Baseball and softball teams are starting to get behind in games played. This is only year after this area had one of the best springs for sports. There were very few bad weather days last year.

***** It was interesting to see one of the MVPs in Saturday's Roundball Classic all-star basketball games. It was Elijah Cottrill of Beaver Falls. He got the MVP for the Class AA team.

Elijah CottrillCottrill didn't play for Beaver Falls from mid-January on - because of a knee injury. Cottrill also missed most of football season because of an injury to the same knee.

The Roundball was Cottrill's first game since he sustained the injury. Cottrill was considered a Division I college prospect and made the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 as a junior. Creighton offered him a scholarship during his junior year. He accepted a football scholarship from Akron last summer, but the two eventually parted ways.

Cottrill (pictured) might still have Division I basketball in the future, but only after a year or two. Academic issues will force him to either a prep school or a junior college. There is a chance he might attend Polk, a junior college in Florida. Polk is coached by former Robert Morris coach Matt Furjanic. Former Beaver Falls star Sheldon Jeter is attending Polk this school year, but not playing basketball. Jeter played as a freshman at Vanderbilt, left after one year and will play for Pitt next year. 

Lance Jeter is another Beaver Falls player who played at Polk before signing and playing at the University of Nebraska.

***** Will former Plum star Nolan Cressler be the next WPIAL player who wasn't heavily recruited in high school but makes a name for himself at the big-time college level? Cressler played at Cornell of the Ivy League the past two seasons before deciding to leave the team after this school year. He accepted a scholarship from Vanderbilt last night.

Notre Dame, Dayton and Rutgers also had offered scholarships and a number of other teams were interested in him. Plum coach Ron Richards said Michigan might have offered a scholarship any day. All of those big-time schools don't show interest or offer a scholarship to a marginal player.

A few former WPIAL/City League players did very well this season after transfers. Chartiers Valley's T.J. McConnell transferred from Duquesne to Arizona, and Schenley's DeAndre Kane transferred from Marshall to Iowa State.

Cressler is a shooting guard who led Cornell in scoring this past season at 16 points a game. This should tell you how much Vanderbilt wanted Cressler: After Cressler got his release from Cornell, Vanderbilt's entire staff flew to Cornell to meet with him.


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Penguins - Blue Jackets preview - 04-15-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins vs. Blue Jackets

Penguins Leading Regular Season Scorer: Sidney Crosby (right), 104 points (36 goals, 68 assists).

Blue Jackets Leading Regular Season Scorer: Ryan Johansen (below), 63 points (33 goals, 30 assists).

Penguins Expected Starting Goaltender: Marc-Andre Fleury, 39-18-5, 2.37 GAA, .915 SV%.

Blue Jackets Expected Starting Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky, 32-20-5, 2.38 GAA, .923 SV%.

Penguins Regular Season Statistics

Blue Jackets Regular Season Statistics

Penguins Injuries: Center Evgeni Malkin (foot) is questionable. Center Marcel Goc (ankle) is out. Right winger Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (knee), center Joe Vitale ("upper body") and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) are on injured reserve.

Blue Jackets Injuries: Left wingers Nick Foligno ("lower body"), R.J. Umberger ("upper body") and defenseman Ryan Murray (knee) is questionable. Right winger Nathan Horton (abdominal) is out.

Penguins with Stanley Cup bling: Craig Adams, RW; Sidney Crosby, C; Pascal Dupuis, RW; Marc-Andre Fleury, G; Chris Kunitz,  LW; Kris Letang, D; Evgeni Malkin, C; Brooks Orpik, D; Rob Scuderi, D.

Blue Jackets with Stanley Cup bling: Nathan Horton, LW.

Something worthwhile about the Penguins: The Penguins had the league's best power play this past regular season at a success rate of 23.4 percent.

Something worthwhile about the Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets lost all five regular season games against the Penguins this season.

Something useless about the Penguins that is vaguely connected to the Blue Jackets: Former Blue Jackets goaltender Ron Tugnutt holds the Penguins' record for most saves in a postseason game. In five overtimes, he made 70 saves in a 2-1 loss to the Flyers in Game 4 of a 2000 Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Something useless about the Blue Jackets that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: The only bench minor in the Blue Jackets postseason history - a too many  men penalty - was served by former Penguins xx Jason Williams against the Red Wings in Game 4 of a 2009 Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Former Blue Jackets on the Penguins: None.

Former Penguins on the Blue Jackets: Mark Letestu, C; Todd Richards, head coach (Richards was formerly the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins), Ville Siren, head amateur scout.

Who needs to be the difference for the Penguins: Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik. They serve as the team's shutdown defensive pairing. With the Blue Jackets dealing with injuries up front, center Ryan Johansen must carry more of the their offense. Martin and Orpik will presumably get the bulk of assignments against his line.

Who needs to be the difference for the Blue Jackets: Sergei Bobrovsky. He has to steal games. Given his history of success in Consol Energy Center, that's not an outlandish suggestion.

Best Penguins YouTube Video We Could Find: Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik's series clinching overtime goal in a 4-3 win against the Islanders in a 2013 Eastern Conference quarterfinal:

Best Blue Jackets YouTube Video We Could Find: Blue Jackets left winger R.J. Umberger scoring a backhanded goal against the Red Wings in Game 4 of a 2009 Western Conference quarterfinal series:

EN Prediction: The Blue Jackets simply don't have a the numbers to run with the Penguins, especially given their recent outbreak of injuries up front. The games will be tight but the Penguins should win this quickly. Penguins 4-1.

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images and Leon Halip/Getty Images)

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Have these Penguins underachieved? - 04-15-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

At 10:37 p.m. on June 12, 2009, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup.

For a franchise stocked with several high-end draft picks in the middle part of the first decade of the 21st century, this was supposed to happen. A championship was preordained for a team which drafted Sidney Crosby, a player who was anointed as the next Wayne Gretzky.

It was also supposed to happen again. And again. And again. Even before winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, Sidney Crosby's Penguins were drawing comparisons to Wayne Gretzky's Oilers teams which won multiple Stanley Cup titles in the 1980s.

But a repeat of that joy felt on a humid night in Detroit almost five years ago has yet to happen for these Penguins. In the four ensuing campaigns, the Penguins' seasons have come to an end in four distinct fashions, each without a championship. Forget Gretzky's Oilers. Crosby's Penguins aren't even Mario Lemieux's Penguins which won two Stanley Cup titles in the early 1990s.

Have these Penguins underachieved? Recently, six members of that 2009 team which are still a part of the current squad were asked that question:

Craig Adams (right), right winger – “I think when you have a good team, you have an ownership and a management that gives you everything you need to be successful – whether it’s adding pieces at the deadline or giving contracts to guys to get them to stick around – you want to win it every year. You have a chance to win every year. But the fact is, teams don’t win it every year. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how good you think you are. Are we disappointed? Yeah, absolutely. I think everybody’s in here goal is to win every year. To say we’ve underachieved, I don’t know. It’s hard to … I feel that way. But at the same time, you look across the league and you don’t see many teams that are winning three or four Cups in a row.

Sidney Crosby, center – “I don’t know. We went to the [Eastern Conference final last season]. We lost the Stanley Cup Final in [2008]. I think that’s a pretty good track record. Most teams would like to have those opportunities. I wouldn’t say you accept that but I also wouldn’t say we’ve been a complete failure. We’ve been there. We haven’t gotten those big wins but I wouldn’t say that we’ve failed to meet expectations. There’s been certain circumstances too. If you really want to dissect it, there’s been some things. We’ve run into some troubles. We had injuries the one year against Tampa [2011]. We have high expectations but I wouldn’t say it’s failure.

Marc-Andre Fleury, goaltender – “It’s disappointing I think. We won it in [2009] and we thought we would do this every time. But we’re not the only team in the league. I think there’s better parity. There’s more good teams around. I’m sure Chicago looks and wonders why it hasn’t won five in a row. It’s tough. For us as a team, it’s disappointing. It’s a good challenge to go at it every year knowing we have a shot at it. We know it’s going to be tough.

Chris Kunitz, left winger - "When you go out in the first round, that’s not the expectation of the team. There’s a lot of good teams out there that have been nearing the top of their game. We have to get better and strive to do that every year. Management and coaches and staff, they all put us in the right position and give us the right information. We have to go out there and do it as a team. It’s another opportunity to go out and win. It’s not easy to go out there and win four series. You’ve got to take it one at a time. Each year is a new year."

Kris Letang (right), defensemen – "There’s one team that was able to do that. I think it’s one of the hardest trophies to win. It all depends every year. I wouldn’t say underachieve, no. But I would say, we expect more of ourselves. We have had disappointed years. I’m not going to lie about that but at the end of the day, it’s a pretty hard trophy to win."

Brooks Orpik, defensemen – “I think your goal is to win it every year. So in our minds, if we don’t win it, we think we’re underachieving it but there’s a lot of good teams. It’s tough. Boston is a good team. They’ve won it once. San Jose hasn’t won it. They’re a great team. St. Louis is a great team. They can’t get over the hump. It’s easy to say that but with the way the [salary] cap it, there’s so many good teams. The parity across the board is probably greater than it ever has been. If you ask guys in here, that’s you’re ultimate goal. If you don’t win it, I guess you’re underachieving. Even if you lose in the [Stanley Cup Final], you’re underachieving. But I think at the same time, I think you’ve got be aware of how many good teams there are every year. Everyone is trying to win it. People get a little short-sighted. I’ve watched the way people talk about the Steelers. There’s 29 other good teams [in the NHL]. Thirty-one others in the NFL. Everyone has the same goal. It’s tough to win. That’s for other people to say. I guess it all depends on what your goals are. If you underachieve or overachieve… I don’t know. You try to win it every year so if you’re not winning it every year, I guess you are underachieving. I don’t think guys get too caught up in that.”

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images and Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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Report: Andy Toole to interview at Marshall

Written by Craig Meyer on .

It wouldn't be a Robert Morris basketball offseason if coaching speculation wasn't involved.

Colonials coach Andy Toole is expected to interview for the vacant men's basketball head coaching position at Marshall University, a source told the Charleston Daily Mail.

This time of year is always filled with people trying to pimp Toole out to most any vacant job, but this is a legitimate report for something substantive -- an actual interview for a position that would make some kind of sense.

According to figures from the Office of Postsecondary Education, Marshall spent $2.37 million on men's basketball during the 2012-13 season, ranking it 137th among Division I teams and ninth among programs in the 16-team Conference-USA. For the sake of comparison, Robert Morris spent $1.34 million on men's basketball, good for 253rd in Division I.

Tom Herrion, who was recently fired as the Thundering Herd's coach, was making about $400,000 per year, which, according to tax documents, is more than double what Toole was making in 2011. Since that time, he's gotten a raise and an extension, but the fact still remains that this job would be a bump in pay at a school that spends more money on men's basketball.

With all that in mind, would this be the right conference for Toole? Andrew Chiappazzi over at Colonials Corner breaks it down some in this thread and I agree with him on some points. This isn't the Conference-USA of 10 years ago, when Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette and Memphis would regularly help the league send multiple teams to the NCAA tournament. It could very well be a one-bid league for the future, but I think the potential at least exists for there to be multiple teams selected from the conference in a given year.

At the very least, there's more of a financial commitment to basketball than there is in the NEC, largely because these are bigger schools with more resources, even if the prestige factor of the Big East or Atlantic 10 isn't there. Ten of C-USA's 16 teams are among the top 150 in basketball expenses in 2012-13; the NEC, meanwhile, had no teams in the top 150 in spending and just one in the top 200 (LIU Brooklyn).

It's maybe not the job many people envisioned Toole being tied to, but there is reportedly mutual interest and, to me at least, it appears like a step up for him on the proverbial coaching ladder.

The situation is certainly worth monitoring and I'll provide any updates as they become available.

UPDATE [4/17]: When reached last night, Toole said he had no comment no the report or a potential interview.


Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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Ducks - Stars preview - 04-15-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Ducks vs. Stars

Ducks Leading Regular Season Scorer: Ryan Getzlaf (right), 87 points (31 goals, 56 assists).

Stars Leading Regular Season Scorer: Tyler Seguin, 84 points (37 goals, 47 assists).

Ducks Expected Starting Goaltender: Frederik Andersen, 20-5-0, 2.29 GAA, .923 SV%.

Stars Expected Starting Goaltender: Kari Lehtonen (below), 33-20-10, 2.41 GAA, .919 SV%.

Ducks Regular Season Statistics

Stars Regular Season Statistics

Ducks Injuries: Right winger Tim Jackman (hand) is out. Defenseman Sheldon Souray (wrist) is on injured reserve.

Stars Injuries: Defenseman Brenden Dillon ("lower body") and left winger Ray Whitney ("lower body") are questionable. Center Rich Peverley (heart) is on out.

Ducks with Stanley Cup bling: Francois Beauchemin, D; Ryan Getzlaf, C; Corey Perry, RW; Teemu Selanne, RW.

Stars with Stanley Cup bling: Erik Cole, LW; Alex Goligoski, D; Segei Gonchar, D; Rich Peverly C; Tyler Seguin, C; Tim Thomas G; Ray Whitney, LW.

Something worthwhile about the Ducks: The Ducks led the NHL in goals per game this past regular season with 3.21.

Something worthwhile about the Stars: The Stars were shutout only once this past regular season, least in the NHL .

Something useless about the Ducks that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Current Penguins left winger Chris Kunitz holds the Ducks' postseason record for assists in a period. He recorded three in a 5-1 win against the Canucks in Game 1 of a 2007 Western Conference semifinal series.

Something useless about the Stars that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: The longest playoff overtime win in Stars/North Stars history was a series-clinching 2-1 victory in four overtime periods against the Sharks in Game 6 of a 2008 Western Conference semifinal. Former Penguins left winger Brenden Morrow scored the overtime goal.

Former Penguins on the Ducks: Brad Lauer, assistant coach; Ben Lovejoy, D.

Former Penguins on the Stars: Alex Goligoski, D; Sergei Gonchar, D; Jiri Hrdina, amateur scout; Dustin Jeffrey, center; Mark Recchi, advisor to hockey operations.

Who needs to be the difference for the Ducks: Andrew Cogliano, Saku Koivu, Jakob Silfverberg. The Stars generate the bulk of their offense from their top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichuskin. Presumably, the Ducks will pit their third line against this trio. The Ducks' defensive forwards much limit the damage from the Stars' best players.

Who needs to be the difference for the Stars: Lehtonen. For the Stars to pull off this upset, Lehtonen has to steal some games. At the very least, he has to outperform the Ducks' uncertain goaltending situation.

Best Ducks YouTube Video We Could Find: Mighty Ducks right winger Petr Sykora scoring a goal in the fifth overtime of a 4-3 win against the Stars in Game 1 of a 2003 Western Conference quarterfinal series:

Best Stars YouTube Video We Could Find: Stars defenseman Paul Cavallini scoring the franchise's first postseason overtime goal since it moved to Dallas in a 5-4 against the Blues in Game 3 a 1994 Western Conference quarterfinal series:

EN Prediction: For the Stars, reaching the postseason has made this a successful season. They will give the Ducks trouble and definitely won't be outworked. But with limited sources of offense and the spotty history of Lehtonen, they don't have enough to win this series. Ducks 4-2.

(Photos: Jeff Gross/Getty Images and Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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