By Michel Boytim
UNIVERSITY PARK — Senior center Paxton Kling might hear his name in the early rounds of the Major League Baseball draft in July, but when asked after the Scarlet Dragons’ 13-2 win over Lancaster Catholic in the Class 3A PIAA championship on Friday, he had a quick answer on whether he would consider skipping college and turning pro.
“I’m going to LSU,” said Kling. “I’m excited to go over there and play for coach (Jay) Johnson and the rest of the coaching staff there. I can’t wait to see what Baton Rouge has in store for me.
Kling was named the 2021-22 Pennsylvania Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year earlier this month and is ranked as Pennsylvania’s top high school player by Perfect Game and is the nation’s 7th prospect in the Class of 2022 by Prep. Baseball Report.
A year ago, when Central and Tyrone played in the PIAA Class 3A Semifinals, local communities combined to set a PIAA record for a single baseball game when 2,433 tickets were sold to the PNG Field.
The Scarlet Dragon faithful continued that support this season by helping to set a first Commonwealth Field record of 880 tickets sold in the PIAA semi-finals and over 1,000 people watched the game on Punxsutawney’s YouTube channel.
On Friday, the numbers were even bigger.
Mark Byers, chief operating officer of the PIAA, said 3,519 tickets were sold for the three competitions played at Medlar Field in Lubrano Park on Friday, and he estimated the majority of them were for the game of Central.
“It means more than anything” said senior center Jonah Snowberger. “I walked out of my driveway this morning and there were signs across the yard about us. There’s an old saying that the last one out of the creek should turn off the light, and I think that’s so true for us. We had the whole community here to support us.
Philipsburg-Osceola student Ben Coudriet sang the national anthem before the game. Coudriet also performed ahead of the PIAA Wrestling Championships earlier this year.
Slogik wins the title
Nick Slogik, who grew up playing youth baseball in Altoona, won a Class 6A PIAA title with Warwick High School on Thursday and earned an RBI single in the first inning of Warwick’s 6-4 win over Liberty .
“Our team is a team that relies on momentum, so that first run for us was pretty huge,” Slogik said. “It made us play really hard the rest of the game. It locked us in and it showed we were here to win.
The second hit a three-run home run in an 8-7 win over Hatboro Horsham in the first round of the state playoffs.
“I was in a bit of a slump at the start of this game, and I had three tough first games at bat,” Slogik said. “Seeing the guys in front of me stepping onto the base gave me some momentum. I wasn’t trying to hit a home run, I was just trying to find a way to get the runners in, and I had a good swing.
Slogik’s aunt, Tracey Slogik-Biesecker, is a member of the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame.
“It’s incredible to be a state champion” Slogik said. “It’s what I’ve dreamed of since I was a child. That’s what all the lifts, running, and 6 a.m. batting practice were for. I worked for it, and it’s such a relief to know it paid off.