Baseball team falls one win short of states

After a 1-7 start, the Panthers reached the playoffs and won their first two games, missing the state tournament by one game.
Posted on 05/31/2023
Vinny Pellegrini was the Panthers' ace this season.By Gary Weckselblatt

When the Quakertown Community High School baseball team began the season with a 1-7 record, few expected the 2023 campaign to become one of the team’s most successful. But the Panthers rebounded in a big way, qualifying for the district playoffs as the 23rd seed among 24 teams and winning two post-season games, falling one game shy of the state tournament.

“This team should be really proud of what they accomplished,” Coach Jon Pallone said. “They never gave up. They could have packed it in and become selfish. Instead, they were selfless.”

Quakertown defeated No. 10 seed Owen J. Roberts, 7-3, in the first round and followed that up with a 10-2 thumping of No. 7 seed Pennsbury to even it record at 11-11. In the quarterfinals, however, the Panthers lost 4-2 to No. 2 North Penn and were defeated 8-4 by Abington in the consolation round.

The strength of this year’s squad was pitching, defense, and speed. Junior Danny Qualteria set a Panthers record with 25 stolen bases. The shortstop and leadoff hitter had a sensational season and was named to the Suburban One League’s first team. Danny batted .431 and had a 1.047 OPS (combined on-base and slugging percentage). Sophomore Cole Reich batted .400 with a 1.035 OPS to gain SOL honorable mention status. Second baseman Caleb Everitt was also named SOL honorable mention. Cooper Natisin, the No. 3 hitter, batted .290 with an .815 OPS, 12 stolen bases, and a team-high three triples.

The Panthers primary pitchers were Vinny Pellegrini, second-team SOL, Cooper, and Matt Marsten. “Vinny dominated for us,” Coach Pallone said of the senior, who went 5-3 with a 1.88 earned-run average. In 44.2 innings, Vinny struck out 46 batters, the third highest in a season for the Panthers, and allowed only eight walks. Opponents batted only .199 against the Quakertown ace.

Matt, in 35 innings, struck out 45 batters, the fourth-highest total in Panthers’ history. He had a 3.00 ERA. Cooper, fanned 35 in 37.2 innings and compiled a 3.53 ERA.

Coach Pallone emphasized that a key to the season’s success was the attitude of several seniors who may not have received the amount of playing time they wanted but “their attitudes as teammates made a big difference.” He mentioned captain Braxton Rahn, Carter Kochel, Chris Parrillo, Joey Pizzi, Mike Richino, Nate Scheetz, and Brayden Schuler.

"We have a good group of guys,” he said. “Whether they're in the lineup or not, our kids loved this experience."

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].
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