The West Chester East baseball team was very young in 2019. But that didn’t stop the Vikings from nearly pulling off a major upset in the 2019 District 1 Class 5A playoffs when the 16th-seeded Vikings led top seed and eventual District 1 champion Holy Ghost Prep 2-0 going into the sixth inning.
The Firebirds came back to win, 4-2, in seven innings, but the foundation for a big season in 2020 was set.
Much of that hope was centered around senior ace pitcher Ryan Basarab, who took the hill in the Holy Ghost Prep game. Basarab, who will pitch at St. Joseph’s University next fall, was slated to be one of the top pitchers in District 1 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the PIAA spring sports season to be cancelled.
Basarab and the Vikings were thinking big in the 2020 season.
“We really got a lot confidence in that district game last season,” Basarab said. “It was a 1 vs. 16 game and we were a young team that was just hitting its stride and we were really looking to contend in the Ches-Mont League this season. Usually, one team dominates, but this year I thought there were three or four teams in our division that could have won the league.
“We really felt we had the hitting and our pitching staff was pretty deep,” Basarab said. “I know I was trying to stay in shape when the season was delayed and although I pretty much knew they would cancel for health reasons for everybody, I was long-tossing and running and trying to stay in shape. Once, the season was officially cancelled, I turned my attention to next fall nd getting ready for St. Joseph’s.”
Basarab, who has a fastball that has been clocked in the low 90s, said he was not originally thinking about going to college on Hawk Hill.
“St. Joe’s was not on my radar the first two years I was thinking about colleges,” Basarab said. “Then Coach (John) Fleming arranged for me to go see the campus and I really loved it down there. Everything seemed just right for me. I really liked the coaches and the facilities were top notch so I was hooked. I am really excited to be going to St. Joe’s.”
Basarab is not the kind of pitcher who likes to get too fancy on the mound, and relies on his high heat when he needs a big out. He thinks that mindset could help him have a strong college career.
“St. Joe’s is a good program and when I need a strikeout I go for the fastball almost all the time,” Basarab said. “Most guys cannot handle high heat and I plan on having a good career at St. Joseph’s.”