20200126-ts-sp Peterson player of decade pic

Johnsonburg’s Cole Peterson (19) celebrates after scoring the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning in the Rams’ 7-6 victory in the 2013 PIAA Class A quarterfinals. Johnsonburg went on to win the state title that year. Peterson, the driving force behind that run, has been named Baseball Player of the Decade for the 2010s after putting together one of the best careers in Tri-County Area history.

Like its spring counterpart softball, the high school baseball teams in the Tri-County Area produced more than a few magical team runs and standout players in the 2010s.

Six different schools — Brookville, Clarion, DuBois, DuBois Central Catholic, Elk County Catholic, and Johnsonburg — reached the state playoffs at least twice and all but one of those schools collected at least one state playoff win.

Johnsonburg’s 2013 team was the only area squad to reach the mountain top though, as the Rams captured the Class A state title. That postseason run proved to be a truly magical one, as Mother Nature wreaked havoc come states and actually aided the Rams. Poor weather delayed a postponed a couple contests allowing star pitcher Cole Peterson to be eligible to pitch in all four state games.

The Rams weren’t the only state finalist though, ECC and Clarion reached the Class A title game in 2014 and 2017, respectively, before suffering close losses. Brookville also made a run to the state semifinals in Class 3A in 2017.

Elk County reached states seven times in the decade, although one postseason run was forfeited away due to using an ineligible player. The Crusaders went 6-6 in their other six trips. Clarion was 3-2 in its two trips, while Johnsonburg dropped its opener in its other appearance in Class 2A in 2018.

Brookville was 2-2 in two trips, while DuBois went 1-3 in its three state playoff appearances.

When it comes to individual players in the decade, no one enjoyed a better career than Peterson. He was a true five-tool player for the Rams who excelled on the mound and in the leadoff spot of the rams batting order. He also was a top-notch defender at shortstop and a menace on the base paths for opposing teams.

Peterson (2011-14) was a four-year starter who is one of just three players to ever win TCS/CE Player of the Year honors twice, doing so as a sophomore and junior. He still enjoyed a standout senior season in 2014 during ewhich he sported a career-best 0.27 ERA in 53 innings but the Rams struggled team-wise with low numbers on its roster.

Peterson will forever be remembered for his 2013 season and being the driving force behind the Rams state championship. He enjoyed one of the best seasons ever by an area pitcher as he went 10-0 with two saves, 116 strikeouts, 26 walks and a 0.85 ERA in 74 innings. He led the area in all of those categories but ERA, finishing second 0.05.

The righty’s wins, innings and strikeouts were split almost 50-50 between the regular season and playoffs, as he recorded the “W” in five of the rams seven games between districts and states. He capped off the magical season by tossing just the sixth shutout ever in PIAA championship game in the Rams’ 5-0 win against Canton.

He also hit .453 that season (34-for-75) with eight doubles 15 RBIs and 16 runs scored from the leadoff spot.

Peterson wrapped up his stellar career with a 28-4 record on the mound with a 1.11 ERA and 357 strikeouts in 228 innings of work. He also recorded four saves.

At the plate, he finished as a .444 hitter (110-for-248) with 86 runs, 47 RBIs, 22 doubles, three triples and a homer.

The Player of the Decade honor is Peterson’s second in our series for the 2010s, as he also shared Player of the Decade honors in basketball with former teammate Cameron Grumley.

Here is a look at the rest of the All-Decade Team for the 2010s:

Pitcher: Brandon Schlimm, Elk County Catholic (2011-14) — If not for Cole Peterson, Schlimm could easily be considered the best pitcher in the area in the decade. The two locked horns several times throughout their careers and will forever be linked as part of the ECC-Johnsonburg rivalry. They were teammates in college and are now linked off the field as brother-in-laws after Peterson married Schlimm’s older sister Taylor, a star pitcher in her own right at ECC, in October.

A year after Peterson led Johnsonburg to a state title, Schlimm nearly pulled off the same feat as a senior but ECC lost in heartbreaking fashion in the Class A state finals when Devon Prep pulled out a 2-1 walk-off victory in nine innings. Schlimm started the game but exited after the seventh inning with things tied 1-1.

He earned TCS/CE Co-Player of the Year honors that season after going 11-0 with an ERA of 0.98 in 71 1/3 innings. He struck out 136 and walked just 20. Schlimm also stepped up that season after routinely being hit in previous seasons. He posted a .397 average (25-for-63) with 22 runs, 13 RBIs, three doubles and one triple.

Schlimm finished his high school career 25-2 on the mound, recording 292 strikeouts while walking just 64 in 174 2/3 innings.

Pitcher: Devon Walker, DuBois (2011-2014) — Walker was a standout both on the mound and at the plate, especially in his final two seasons, for the Beavers. He also played stellar defense at shortstop when not pitching.

He put all all together as a senior and led DuBois to its first state playoff win (10-3 vs. Baldwin) in 17 years He went 8-1 on the mound with a 2.45 ERA, 55 strikeouts and 17 walks in 54 1/3 innings, with two of those wins coming in the postseason — including the Baldwin game.

Walker also hit .385 (25-for-65) with 31 runs and 14 RBIs in the second spot in the order as he earned TCS/CE Co-Player of the Year honors.

Walker finished his high school career 20-1 on the mound with 119 strikeouts and 42 walks in 120 1/3 innings. At the plate, he hit .369 (71-for-195) with 81 runs, 42 RBIs, 10 doubles and two home runs.

Pitcher: Nate Beimel, St. Marys (2016-2019) — Beimel closed out the decade by winning back-to-back TCS/CE Player of the Year awards, becoming just the third player since 1994 to do so along with Cole Peterson (202-13) and DCC’s Mike Milliron (2000-01). He helped lead St. Marys to its first District 9 title in 18 years as a junior as the Dutch won the Class 4A crown.

Beimel not only was the Dutchmen’s ace throughout his career but also one of their best hitters each of his four varsity seasons. He also played a solid first base when not pitching.

The lefty went 17-6 on the mound in his career, posting a 1.34 ERA and striking out 276 in 151 2.3 innings. He was 10-1 over his final two seasons with 190 Ks and an ERA of 0.89 in 86 1.3 innings to help capture his pair of Player of the Year awards.

Beimel also sported a career batting average of .367 (92-for-251) with 69 RBIs, 41 runs, 15 doubles and seven home runs.

Catcher: Justin Miknis, DuBois Central Catholic (2016-2019) — Miknis was the premier catcher in the area, and District 9, in the second half of the decade. He was as good as the come behind the plate, committing just one error as a senior, and was athletic enough to move and play shortstop at times when DCC needed him to.

Miknis, who was a part of two D-9 championship teams, also was a clutch hitter and sported a .500 or better average each of his final two seasons. He finished his stellar career with a .421 average (96-for-228) with 81 runs, 62 RBIs, 31 doubles, five triples and five home runs.

Miknis, a three-time TCS/CE First Team selection, was named to the TCS/CE All-Decade team in basketball as well after breaking DCC’s career scoring record in that sport.

Infield: Garret Peterson, DuBois (2008-2011) — Peterson, who underwent Tommy John surgery late in the summer following his sophomore season in 2009, still put together a pair of monster seasons at the plate for the Beavers to open the decade while being a solid defender at first base.

He hit .374 (46-for-123) between his junior and senior seasons with 55 RBIs, 32 runs, 12 doubles and 13 home runs. He returned to the mound as a senior after recovering from surgery and went 4-1 with a 2.49 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 39 innings of work. Two of those wins came in the postseason to help the Beavers reach states, where they dropped their opening game.

He earned TCS/CE Player of the Year honors as a senior.

Infield: Jake Miknis, DuBois Central Catholic (2013-2016) — Miknis did a little bit of everything for the Cardinals during his four-year career and did it all very well. He pitched, played multiple positions in the infield and most notably was a lethal weapon at the plate.

Miknis earned TCS/CE Player of the Year honors as a senior in 2016 after leading the Cardinals to a 17-3 record and their first D-9 title in 15 years. He went 6-0 on mound that season with a 1.44 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings.

He had a 6-0 record on the season with a 1.44 earned run average in 53 2/3 innings. He also hit .467 (28-for-60) with four home runs, four doubles, a triple, 21 RBIs and 22 runs scored despite not seeing a lot of pitches after hitting .525 as a junior.

The Cardinals finished his DCC career with a .482 (109-for-226) average, 87 runs, 83 RBIs, 30 doubles, five triples and 10 homers. and 83 RBIs. He went 12-4 record with a 3.38 ERA and recorded three saves in 126 1/3 innings. He struck out 175 batters in his career and walked 61.

Infield: Jeff Wehler, Elk County Catholic/St. Marys (2014-2017) — Wehler was one of those players who made you take notice of him from the first time he stepped on a diamond. He was a four-year starter — spending his first two years at ECC before finishing his career at St. Marys.

He hit .473 as a freshman third baseman on ECC’s state finals team with 35 hits and 26 RBIs but only played in the first postseason game that year. He later hit .508 (33 hits) in his first season as a Dutchmen as he slid over to play shortstop at St. Marys.

Wehler ended his standout career with a .429 average (115-268) with 80 runs, 74 RBIs, 23 doubles, six triples and eight home runs.

Infield: Mitchell Holmberg, Johnsonburg (2010-13) — Holmberg was a do-everything type player that helped make Johnsonburg tick and proved to be a vital player on the 2013 state championship squad.

A four-year starter, he pitched and played multiple infield positions as a senior depending on who was on the mound during the Rams’ run to the school’s first-ever state baseball title.

Full stats weren’t available for his freshman season, but the Ram hit .352 (69-for-196) over his final three seasons with a high-water mark of .394 as a senior. He scored 62 runs and drive in another 34 while hitting 10 doubles.

Holmberg also went 12-1 on the mound during that three-year stretch, posting a 2.41 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings.

Outfield: Phil Myers, DuBois Central Catholic (2012-2015) — Myers was a mainstay on the DCC pitching staff throughout his four-year career but also played a strong center field when not on the mound.

His best season came as a senior in 2015 when helped lead DCC to a 15-3 record in a season that abruptly ended with a loss to Oswayo Valley in the D-9 Class A semifinals. Unfortunately for DCC, it decided not to start Myers in that game. He pitched in relief with the Cardinals losing 4-0 but they lost by that score.

Myers earned Player of the Year honors that season after putting together a dominant year on the mound that saw him go 5-1 with a one save while striking out 65 and walking just 11 in 40 1/3 innings. He allowed just 12 hits and three runs (one earned) for a minuscule 0.17 ERA — the lowest ever by an area pitcher.

He also hit .419 (26-for-62) that season with 19 RBIs and 26 runs scored.

Myers finished his DCC career with 17-6 record, sporting a 1.47 ERA with 195 strikeouts in 138 innings. He also was a .346 hitter (76-for-220) with 57 runs, 38 RBIs and 13 doubles.

Outfield: Ivan Wortman, Elk County Catholic (2011-2014) —Wortman was one of the main catalysts in the middle of the lineup for some strong Crusader squads early in the decade and was a key senior leader on the 2014 team that reached the state finals. Elk County won a pair D-9 crowns during his career.

Wortman, who wasn’t on the varsity roster as a freshman, amassed some gaudy numbers in three years as a starter. He hit .417 (96-for-230) with 74 runs, 59 RBIs, 19 doubles, two triples and a pair of homers.

Outfield: Brandon Walker, DuBois Central Catholic (2016-2019) — Walker, a four-year starter, was sometimes overshadowed by some of the other Cardinals he played with. But, he quietly put together a stellar career and was a three-time TCS/CE First Team All-Star while playing on a pair of D-9 Class A championship squads.

A smooth defender in the outfield who also caught some for the Cardinals, Walker hit .374 for his career (98-for-262) with 77 runs scored, 65 RBIs, 23 doubles, three triples and a home run.

Outfield: Sean Sleigh, DuBois (2009-2012) — Sleigh came through the DuBois program at time when underclassmen didn’t always see the field right away. That was the case for him, as he saw minimal varsity action until his junior campaign. But once he did, Sleigh was one of the most dangerous hitters in the area at that time.

Sleigh hit .443 (58-for-131) over the three years he played in the decade. He hit seven homers and 11 doubles while scored 36 runs and driving in another 38. Most of that production came his final two years as he was just 3-for-5 at the plate with a RBI and two runs as a sophomore.

Utility Player: Aaron Park, Brookville (2017-2020) — Park burst onto the area baseball scene as a freshman and put together a strong season on the mound and at the plate to help lead Brookville to the state semifinals in 2017. Park captured Player of the Year honors that season.

He went 8-3 on the mound with a 1.53 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings. He also hit .413 (26-for-63) 19 RBIs, 12 runs and four doubles.

Park, the lone current player to earn All-Decade honors, has continued to put up strong numbers in both areas following that breakout freshman campaign.

He will enter his senior season with a 16-10 career mark and has a 1.62 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 147 innings of work. Park is a .397 career hitter (71-for-179) with 58 RBIs, 40 runs, 13 doubles, five triples and a homer.

Designated Hitter: Josh Mitchell, Ridgway (2010-13) — Mitchell was one of the best all-around players in the area, and District 9, in the early part of the decade. However, some of his accomplishments often got lost though because he played on some Elker teams that struggled to find wins.

Teams often pitched around Mitchell, but when he got a chance to hit, he rarely failed to deliver. A four-year starter, he sported a .431 average (88-for-204) for his career with 74 runs and 97 RBIs. He smacked 20 home runs and 20 doubles to go along with three triples.

On the mound, he went just 14-15 in his career with 255 strikeouts in 163 innings. Unfortunately for the lefty, he rarely got much run support or watched as his defense struggled behind. Those two factors are evident when you look at his final two seasons, in which he sported a 1.62 ERA and struck out 163 in 91 innings but had a win-loss record of just 9-8.

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