Once was not enough for the Bethel Park High School baseball team.
After winning a PIAA title in 2021, the Black Hawks made history June 18 when they did it again. They blanked Selinsgrove, 5-0, at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on the Penn State University campus and won the 2022 state Class 5A championship.
“This feels so much better than the first time,” said senior third baseman Cody Geddes. “We did something that has never been done before at Bethel Park. I am so proud for us and the community. It feels really good to have made a name for ourselves.”
Geddes certainly has etched a moniker in Pennsylvania scholastic baseball.
In the 2021 Class 5A final, he tagged a two-run triple and earned a save on the mound as the Black Hawks defeated Redland, 4-2.
In this year’s title tilt, he collected three hits, drove in two runs and scored twice. He homered to lift BP into the lead, 1-0, in the top of the fourth. He drilled a run-scoring single in the seventh.
“Cody was able to get a great swing on a hanging breaking ball, one of the few mistake pitches thrown during the game,” BP manager Patrick Zehnder said. “You felt the team settled down. Getting that run across the plate, with the way Evan (Holewinski) was pitching, may have been all we needed.”
Holewinski needed only 76 pitches to stymie the Seals. The junior hurled a three-hitter. He struck out five, including the final batter.
“In my opinion, Evan is one of the best pitchers in the state. In the country,” Zehnder added. “I just love to watch him in action and the guys love playing defense behind him because the balls get put in play a lot.”
David Kessler agreed. The senior shortstop made three putouts and picked up four assists on defense while supplying two runs on offense, after ripping a base hit in the sixth and reaching base on an error in the seventh.
“When you have a great pitcher on the mound, great defense behind you and some timely hitting, it’s hard to beat,” Kessler said. “That’s what we’ve gotten. We are just one great team and it’s hard to put into words how unbelievable these guys are and what we’ve achieved.”
After failing to win a section title and finishing third in the district after a tough semifinal loss in the WPIAL playoffs, BP rebounded in the state tournament, stringing together wins against Central Mountain, 4-3, West Allegheny, 7-0, and Donegal, 5-4, to reach the PIAA finals for the sixth time in school history.
“The secret to our success may have been losing in the WPIAL playoffs,” Kessler said. “We came back hungry for the state championship.”
After the home run by Geddes in the fourth, the Hawks feasted on Selinsgrove pitching in the sixth.
With one out, Kessler and Geddes singled. Kessler scored on Ray Altmeyer’s misplayed ground ball. Ben Hudson, who had doubled in the second inning, then tagged a two-run single before the rally ended on two strikeouts by Ryan Reich. The Seton Hill recruit hurled 6 2/3 frames, striking out nine.
In the seventh, Kessler reached base on the error and scored on the double by Geddes, who was thrown out at the plate attempting to score when the ball was misplayed in the outfield.
The victory not only gave BP its third state baseball title in six appearances, it also marked the fourth time a WPIAL club has won two consecutive state titles. Moon won championships in 2001 and 2002 while Riverside accomplished the feat twice in 2005 and 2006 as well as 2011 and 2012.
“State titles is always going to be our goal,” said Zehnder, who has two PIAA trophies in two seasons at the helm.