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NTL BASEBALL: SENIOR LED NEB POST DOUBLE DIGIT WIN SEASON (2024-06-07)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
The senior heavy Northeast Bradford baseball team posted a winning season this past year, even if they came up short of their goal of another district title.

“We had high expectations coming into the year coming off a district championship with numerous contributors returning,” said coach Brian Salsman. “Our team is built around pitching and defense and hopefully on any given day we could score enough runs to pull out a victory. We figured we would be right in the hunt for a small school league title, but Canton never let us or any other small school team get a foot in the door. We also figured to be in the running for another district championship. That did come to fruition, but unfortunately we came up a run short of repeating.”


NEB went 11-9 on the season, opening with back to back wins over CV (11-5) and Williamson (10-0). 


After a loss to Canton they beat Forest City (15-4) to improve to 3-1. 


They followed that with a loss to Wyalusing, but then won five of their next six games, beating Athens (5-1), Towanda (8-7), Sullivan County (9-4), Sayre (6-3), and Williamson (10-1).


After another tough loss to Canton (13-9) they beat Neumann (14-7) and Sayre (5-1) to clinch a playoff spot.


They struggled down the stretch, losing four of their last five, though they did beat Benton (2-0).


In the district title game they lost to Millville in a thrilling 4-3 contest.


“All season long our pitching was solid,” said Salsman. “We were able to survive the early April rain outs due to some good pitching depth. We knew Clay Wiggins and Josh Stanton, both seniors, were known commodities, recording nine wins between them as juniors. We also knew Kohen Hugo, a sophomore, could throw strikes, but he was our starting catcher. Stanton had some arm issues early in the season which forced us to use junior Ethan Hunsinger more than we had envisioned on the mound. He was outstanding as he went 4-0 with a 0.81 ERA in 26 innings on the year. Hugo also finished the year strong with a 3-1 record, one save, and a 1.87 ERA. Our overall team ERA was 2.62.


“Our defense on the other hand was inconsistent,” continued Salsman. “Usually when we played well defensively, we won or at least were in the game. Conversely, errors seemed to always result in runs for the opposition and spelled doom for us. Defensively, we were like Jekyll and Hyde.”


Wiggins led them at the plate with a .291 average to go with 20 runs scored, while Hugo hit .266 with six doubles, and 14-RBI. 


Hunsinger hit .265 with 12-RBI as Cayden McPherson batted .259 with 14-RBI.


“Offensively, we felt we had to improve from last season,” said Salsman. “Statistically we batted 28 points higher as a team and scored 33 more runs, but still struggled during various matchups. Clay Wiggins led us once again in batting average,  Andrew Beers had the highest on base percentage, and Kohen Hugo led in hits and RBIs.”


The 11 wins is a high water mark for the Panthers in recent years, a crest Salsman felt coming.


“We have increased our win totals each year since I started three years ago,” he said. “Four of our six seniors have played all three years and are directly responsible for much of that improvement. Josh Stanton recorded 12 wins and five saves on the mound in his career to go along with 47 career hits. Dillon Donnelly provided excellent defense at second base and finished with 54 hits. Cayden McPherson was solid at first base and had 57 career hits. Clay Wiggins was dominant at times on the mound and always a threat with the bat who finished with 71 hits and eight pitching victories in his career. Andrew Beers, playing for the first time since his freshman season, also had a solid year. Carter Satterly was a first year senior who didn't see much playing time but was a great teammate who was always the first one out of the dugout after innings to encourage his fellow players.”


It’ll take a lot of internal improvement from their younger players to have another double digit win next season.


“With the graduation of these seniors, we have some big shoes to fill next year,” Salsman said. H”owever, we are confident that we can field a competitive team with our returning personnel and some newcomers from junior high. The last two teams are the only teams in NEB baseball history to make the district finals, so the bar has been set for next year's team and beyond.”



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