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Trio of Spartans lead Misericordia’s surge


May 15. 2013 12:47AM


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DALLAS - They met on a baseball field while teaming up to play American Legion ball.
Or was it Junior Legion?
Andrew Tressa can’t really remember that far back.
All he knows is that when he joined a lineup with Kenny Durling, on a pitching staff that included Evan Robaczewski, unparalleled success began to follow them all.
It never stopped, really.
And the three Misericordia University stars plan to celebrate one final run together through the NCAA Division III playoffs, beginning with today’s start of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament at PNC Field.
“It’s been real fun,” said Durling, the Cougars cleanup hitter with 50 RBI and a .341 batting average. “We hang out on and off the field. We’re always over each other’s houses, we go right to the field. Or I’ll call one of these two and we’ll come up and lift.
“You try not to think about it,” he continued. “In the back of your mind, you know this could be it for all of us playing together.”
They’ve made a habit of playing their way to the top.
At Wyoming Valley West High School, Robaczewski helped pitch the Spartans to two consecutive District 2 Class 4A titles before Tressa and Durling won a third during their senior season.
The three were also teammates on the 2009 Plymouth American Legion team that won the Region 5 championship with a dramatic doubleheader victory against a team featuring stars from state high school champion Abington Heights, which included current top prospect for the San Diego Padres Cory Spangenberg.
Then they went off to college.
Tressa was the scrappy middle infielder and run producer for Valley West. Durling drove him in more than once with key clutch hits and had a knack for making dramatic catches in center field.
They were both hard hitters in that Spartans’ senior class, and both high on Misericordia’s recruiting list.
“When you recruit kids off the same team, you never know,” Misericordia coach Pete Egbert said. “Sometimes they want to be together, sometimes they don’t.”
It was clear immediately how much Tressa and Durling wanted to sustain their success together.
“We took our recruiting visit here together and made up our minds together,” said Tressa, who carries a .367 batting average and has scored a team-leading 53 runs.
They were determined to take their winning ways to Misericordia.
Robaczewski was a different story.
“I wasn’t even looking at them at all,” said Robaczewski, a year older than Tressa and Durling and a fifth-year senior at Misericordia. “I didn’t really get recruited out of high school.”
He wound up enrolling at Lackawanna Junior College to pitch for two years.
“Basically it was my only option,” Robaczewski said.
That seems silly now, after Robaczewski was named the Freedom Conference Pitcher of the Year for the last two seasons and dominating this one with a 9-1 record and 2.47 ERA.
But early in that 2009 Legion season, Robaczewski tore a ligament in his elbow, underwent Tommy John surgery, and any interest colleges may have had in him immediately evaporated. When he recovered from surgery, Robaczewski felt like a new pitcher.
“It was definitely a big difference,” said Robaczewski, who will start today’s 4:30 p.m. regional opener against Ramapo. “I felt it in my velocity. In high school, I never lifted, never conditioned. When I got to college, I did those things and made a huge turnaround.”
It turned out his idea to pitch for the University of Pittsburgh was short-lived.
“Didn’t work out,” he shrugged.
Durling and Tressa didn’t really have to work hard to get Robaczewski to try throwing off the Misericordia mound.
“They basically talked me into it,” said Robaczewski, who joined the Cougars for his junior year in 2012. “It was a very quick decision when those guys were playing up here.”
In two seasons, Robaczewski won 19 games and set the school’s all-time record for pitching victories.
“We got very fortunate and very lucky to get Evan into the program for two years,” Egbert said. “You give him the ball every Friday and he does it.
“And he does it well.”
They all do, really.
They’ve helped 36-9 Misericordia capture three consecutive Freedom Conference titles and make three straight appearances in the NCAA field.
“Me and Kenny coming here, after having success in high school, wanted to try to bring that to college,” Tressa said. “But we had a lot of good players in our recruiting class.”
OVERSET FOLLOWS:Misericordia’s influx of talent four years ago included hard-hitting catcher Steve Sulcoski from Hanover Area, along with pitcher Pete Doggett from Abington Heights.
But it’s been spearheaded by a trio of Spartans who long ago began building a connection that’s hard to beat.
“All three of them have a great baseball background,” Egbert said. “They have all been very well-coached. All three are tough kids, both mentally and physically. The word I keep going back to is competitor. Nobody likes to lose.
“These kids really don’t like to lose.”



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