One of Peters Township’s best players is named John but is known by most as Jack.
“Honestly, people have called me Jack for as long as I can remember,” senior Jack Lutte said.
While the name Jack has been with Lutte for years, his penchant for hitting jacks is rather new. After having no varsity home runs prior to this season, Lutte has already hit five this season, which ties for the WPIAL lead and puts him among the top home run hitters in the state.
“He’s a kid who has worked really hard in the weight room,” Peters Township coach Rocky Plassio said. “He’s a kid that has progressively gotten better each year of his high school career, just working on every aspect of the game. You could see it coming. Last year, he delivered a lot of big hits and showed his potential, but this year his impact is very pronounced.”
Lutte has been having an outstanding season for Peters Township, which has reloaded quickly after graduating an excellent senior class that helped the Indians go 21-3 and reach the WPIAL Class 5A championship a season ago. The Indians improved to 7-6 overall and 4-4 in Section 2 following Tuesday’s 10-3 win against Upper St. Clair. A Denison recruit, Lutte has been strong offensively overall, hitting a team-best .469 to go along with the five home runs, 13 RBIs and 18 runs scored. He also has six doubles and a triple, giving him an OPS of 1.475.
“I’ve been locked in every single game at the plate. Every single at-bat,” said Lutte, who hit .367 last season. “I definitely didn’t have that power the last two years, but I’ve been hitting good pitches and sticking with my approach. I spent countless hours in the cages. This senior season so far has been the culmination of the past two or three years.”
Lutte plays travel ball for the Pittsburgh Spikes and trains at Battleground Baseball in Butler County. He credited his two hitting coaches — Chase Rowe and Sean Lubin — as being instrumental in his success.
Lutte has also shown off his versatility defensively this spring. Last season, he was the team’s full-time catcher after starting catcher Jack Natili was lost for the season with an elbow injury. Lutte was so good that he was named all-section. Natili, a senior and Rutgers recruit, is back this season, so Lutte has split his time between outfield, first base and catcher.
“It’s been good,” Lutte said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever played the outfield, but I’m quick enough and a good enough athlete to do it. I like first base because I get to conversate with the runners a little. It’s a chill position.”
Added Plassio, “He’s been terrific all along. He’s been extremely consistent throughout, and he’s been playing a lot of different positions for us.”
Lutte and Natili are among the Indians’ 10 seniors, and Plassio called them the team’s most consistent hitters. They typically bat either 2-3 or 3-4 in the lineup. Natili is hitting .432 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
Hughes’ huge season
Springdale is only 4-7 this season, but its top player is having one of the best statistical seasons of anybody in the WPIAL.
This spring has been like a movie for John Hughes, a junior who is excelling both at the plate and on the mound. Hughes is batting a team-best .630 and leads all WPIAL players in strikeouts with 62 in just 26 innings.
Hughes had an absolutely scintillating start to the season, reaching base in each of his first 16 plate appearances and 20 of his first 21 over the team’s first five games. On the season, he is 17 of 27 at the plate and has an on-base percentage of .732. Hughes also has 13 RBIs and has scored 18 runs.
In addition, Hughes has struck out at least 10 in four of his six pitching appearances. He had 14 strikeouts against Sto-Rox, 12 each against St. Joseph and Rochester, and 11 against Summit Academy. Hughes has an ERA of 2.69.
Wrona in the zone
Jay Wrona was the leading scorer (16.2 points per game) for the Mohawk basketball team and helped the Warriors win a section title this past season. A few months later, Wrona has Mohawk in the hunt for a baseball section title, and his batting average is not only the best on the team, but it also ranks tops in the WPIAL.
Wrona hasn’t done much wrong at the plate over his team’s first 11 games. A junior, Wrona is 23 of 33, good for an average of .697. He has delivered eight multi-hit games and notched a season-high four hits in a 7-6 victory against Ellwood City. In addition to leading the Warriors in hitting, Wrona paces them in RBIs (16), runs (21) and on-base percentage (.714).
Budacki piling up the wins
New Brighton has nine wins this season, and one of its pitchers has been responsible for six of them.
Senior right-hander Bobby Budacki has been dealing, his six wins being the most of any pitcher in the WPIAL. Budacki (6-1) has a decision in each of his seven starts. He did not allow an earned run in five of those appearances and surrendered three hits or fewer in three of them. Budacki had a season-high 10 strikeouts against Northgate and has punched out 43 in 37 innings overall. His ERA stands at 0.76.
Budacki hasn’t been too shabby offensively, either, as he is hitting .324 with a team-best 13 RBIs. He went 2 for 4 with an RBI and gave up just one unearned run in seven innings to help the Lions to their fifth win in a row Tuesday, a 4-1 triumph at Laurel in Class 2A Section 2.