From the outside looking in, it might not have appeared as if Thomas Jefferson would be headed for a big season on the diamond this spring, not after going just 8-12 a season ago.

But if the early results are any indication, the Jaguars could be brewing up something special.

“This group is kind of jelling right now,” coach Tim Vickers said. “We’ve got a lot of seniors who last season were playing varsity baseball for the first time as juniors. The experiences from last season, whether positive or negative, they were all learning experiences.”

Thomas Jefferson’s opponents continue to learn that the Jaguars are one of the most complete teams in the WPIAL right now, regardless of class.

It has been an impressive start for Thomas Jefferson, which improved to 9-0 overall and 3-0 in Class 4A Section 3 following Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Chartiers Valley. The Jaguars are the only remaining undefeated team in Class 4A and one of only a few unbeaten teams still remaining in the entire WPIAL.

“I honestly think it’s because of how we interact with each other and how close we are,” senior J.J. Siemon said. “Last year there was some animosity, but this year everything came together.”

Siemon is one of 10 seniors on the team, many of whom were thrust into big roles for the first time last season, one that saw the Jaguars lose seven of eight games at one point. The team still qualified for the playoffs, though, and as the No. 15 seed gave No. 2 Blackhawk a scare before falling, 5-4, in nine innings in a WPIAL first-round game.

“That playoff loss, that crushed a lot of us,” Siemon said.

But instead of dwelling on it, Siemon and his teammates learned from the experience and have grown because of it. That’s led to a blistering first half of the regular season that has seen Thomas Jefferson outscore foes, 78-9. The Jaguars have scored at least seven runs in all but two games and have limited opponents to one run or fewer in all but two games.

Thomas Jefferson’s J.J. Siemon improved to 3-0 on the mound after firing a shutout in Tuesday’s 1-0 win against Chartiers Valley. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

The Thomas Jefferson pitching staff is talented and deep, as no matter who Vickers has chosen to start on a particular day, that player has typically been terrific. Siemon (3-0, 0.41 ERA), senior Elias Lippincott (2-0, 0.00 ERA) and sophomore Colin Pearson (2-0, 0.63) have multiple wins thus far, with junior Damian Bosco (1-0, 1.75 ERA), and sophomore Dom Metz (1-0, 0.00 ERA) picking up victories, as well.

“We came out of the gate probably thinking that J.J. and Elias [would be the top two starters], but then we went down to Myrtle Beach and Colin threw the last game, and he was utterly dominant,” Vickers said. “The innings have been spread pretty well. It’s been pick and choose depending on the opponent.”

The Jaguars had gone 14 days in between games before beginning section play Monday with a 16-1 win at McKeesport. Bosco struck out five over four innings to get the win in that game, and Siemon followed by tossing a complete-game shutout with nine strikeouts in Tuesday’s 1-0 win against Chartiers Valley. The Jaguars then won at Chartiers Valley, 2-1, on Wednesday, with Lippincott and Metz combining on a one-hitter.

“It’s because we practice as hard as we play,” Siemon said of his team’s pitching success.

Heading into Wednesday’s game, Thomas Jefferson pitchers had given up only 21 hits and issued only 12 walks over 49 innings.

Even more impressive is that the strong pitching has come with one of the team’s most talented hurlers, junior Tyler Lesko, still on the mend after having Tommy John surgery last June. Vickers said he is hopeful that Lesko will be cleared to pitch soon.

Junior center fielder Luke Kosko has been a big addition to a Thomas Jefferson team that has raced to a 9-0 start. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

In the meantime, Lesko, like many of his teammates, is hitting the cover off the ball. Lesko leads the team with a .556 batting average and 11 RBIs. While Lesko is the only player hitting better than .500, four others are hitting over .400. They include senior Alec Warden (.474), junior Noah Kaszar (.444), junior Luke Kosko (.440) and junior Carter Kirsch (.409). Warden is a Penn State recruit who leads the team with 15 runs and 11 stolen bases. Lippincott is hitting .381 with seven RBIs.

Kosko and Kaszar were big additions to the team this season after neither played a season ago. Kosko is more known by some for his football talents. A quarterback, Kosko has scholarship offers in that sport from Marshall and Charlotte, but he is a gifted baseball player, as well. The starting center fielder, Kosko has 4 extra-base hits, 8 RBIs, 10 runs and 7 steals.

“He’s a freak,” Vickers said. “He’s pretty talented on the baseball field in a lot of ways. And he hadn’t seen live pitching in a while, so it’s pretty impressive to see where he’s at at this point of the year.”

It’s pretty impressive to see where the Jaguars are at this point of the season overall, and while there’s still lots of baseball left to be played, Siemon said he believes this team has big potential.

“I think we can take it all the way,” he said. “All the chips are in place. We just have to go out and execute.”

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at