Rick O'Brien: La Salle's Kozeniewski picks books over bats

La Salle's Tyler Kozeniewski plans to focus on academics at Drexel.
La Salle's Tyler Kozeniewski plans to focus on academics at Drexel. (RICK O'BRIEN / Staff)
Posted: June 12, 2012

Not surprising, considering his lively bat and ability to find the outfield gaps, La Salle's Tyler Kozeniewski received interest from several Division I baseball programs.

Georgia Southern offered the hard-slugging rightfielder a partial scholarship. Maryland, Virginia Commonwealth, and St. Joseph's also made inquiries.

But as much as Kozeniewski enjoys being on the diamond, he says he wants to concentrate on hitting the books in college.

"I'm going to Drexel to study business administration," the 18-year-old said. "I'll probably play club baseball there. I don't think I'll give up the sport completely."

Kozeniewski and the Explorers, continuing their quest to reach Penn State, will take on Hatboro-Horsham at noon Monday in a PIAA Class AAAA semifinal at Spring-Ford High outside Royersford.

In 26 appearances this season, Kozeniewski, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior and lefthanded hitter, is batting .438 (28 for 64) with 21 RBIs, nine doubles, six stolen bases, four triples, and three home runs.

In Friday's 7-6 win over District 3's Central Dauphin at Muhlenberg High, outside Reading, he went 2 for 3. His RBI triple off the right-field fence in the bottom of the fifth inning put La Salle in front, 3-2.

"It was a 3-2 fastball on the inside part of the plate," he said. "It jammed me a little bit. I thought for a second that it was going to be a home run, but it got hung up a little bit."

From the No. 5 hole, Kozeniewski has been hitting at a steady pace since going 7 for 8 in a late-April series against Catholic League Red Division rival Cardinal O'Hara. In the opener, a 12-5 victory, he went 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles.

"Offensively, he's good at working the count and putting himself into a position to succeed," Explorers coach Joe Parisi said. "If a pitcher makes a mistake, he can crush the ball."

Against Central Dauphin, junior first baseman Chris Melillo went 3 for 4 with four RBIs. Senior shortstop P.J. Acierno scored three runs and stole two bases.

Second baseman Colin Pyne is hitting .463 with 17 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, 8 doubles, and 2 triples. Fellow senior Corey Baiada, a catcher, is batting .449 with 22 RBIs, 11 doubles, a triple, and a home run.

Before focusing on baseball, Kozeniewski, of Blue Bell, played basketball for a year and football - he was a special-teams contributor for La Salle's 2009 state-championship team - for two seasons.

Altoona vs. C.R. South. Council Rock South's bid for Class AAAA gold continues Monday in a noon semifinal at Hershey High against District 6 champion Altoona.

The Mountain Lions are likely to send senior righthander Christian Helsel to the hill against the Golden Hawks. Mostly coming out of the bullpen this season, the 6-0, 195-pounder is 4-1 with a 1.62 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 342/3 innings.

Helsel, a Mississippi recruit who doubles as a shortstop, is batting .419 with 25 runs, 12 RBIs, 4 doubles, and 2 homers. Teammate Anthony Lombardo, a senior catcher, is hitting .333 with 21 RBIs and 10 doubles.

Extra bases. Downingtown East's offensive catalysts this season were Scott Steffy (.404 batting average), Adam Clark (.387), Alex Kowalczyk (.380), and Drew Taylor (.377). . . . For Garnet Valley, junior lefthander Dalton Mayberry went 6-1 with a 0.98 ERA and 68 whiffs in 48 innings. Teammate Ryan Dorosh, a senior righthander, was 7-2 with a 1.04 ERA and 89 K's in 56 innings. . . . In his career at West Chester Rustin, infielder Kevin Jewitt hit .446 with 95 runs, 93 RBIs, 29 doubles, and 23 homers. The four-year starter is bound for Villanova. . . . For Calvary Christian, which won its second consecutive District 1 Class A crown, senior shortstop Kevin McIntyre batted .521 with a .588 on-base percentage. . . . Archbishop Ryan's Gage Galeone, a junior outfielder and pitcher, hit .311 with 20 RBIs and 17 runs.

Contact Rick O'Brien

at robrien@phillynews.com,

or @ozoneinq on Twitter.

Read his blog, "The O'Zone,"

at www.philly.com/ozone

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