HS BASEBALL: Puscheck's sweet swing leads NTBy Jay Skurski
North Tonawanda coach Pete Grinnell admits he wasn’t sure what he had in junior Micah Puscheck prior to the season.
As a sophomore, Puscheck was struck by bad luck on the junior varsity. He’d hit the ball hard, but seemingly right at a person.
“He didn’t have the greatest year,” Grinnell said, “but one look at his swing and we could tell right away he’d be an important player for us.”
Puscheck has proven that this season, providing an offensive boost for the Lumberjacks, who open the Section VI Class AA postseason at 5 p.m. today with a quarterfinals matchup at Niagara Frontier League-rival Niagara Falls.
“Once I got those first couple hits, it was like, ‘ok, I can play at this level,’ ” Puscheck said. “It was a big confidence boost.”
One of Puscheck’s biggest strengths is consistently getting the ball in play, which Grinnell believes is key at the high school level.
“You never know which balls can get through, and at the least it’s moving the runners along,” the coach said.
Puscheck credits his family with helping him develop his swing.
“I worked a lot with my grandfather and my father,” he said.
Puscheck, who grew up playing in the NT National Little League, has also contributed defensively and on the mound. A third baseman for as long as he can remember, he willingly moved across the diamond to fill a need at first base for the Jacks.
“Third was one of our deepest positions and we had a question mark at first, and he’s made a seamless transition,” Grinnell said of Puscheck.
Though his record was just 1-3 in NFL play, Puscheck didn’t get much run support on the hill. He kept NT close in a 4-2 loss to league-champion Grand Island and also was on the wrong end of a 3-2 decision.
“He was a hard-luck loser in a couple games,” Grinnell said.
Off the field, Puscheck excels in the classroom. He carries an average of about 96, according to Grinnell.
Micah’s younger brother, Jesse, recently completed his freshman year on the NT junior varsity team.
“He’s going to be a good ballplayer,” Micah said of his younger brother.
Contact editor Jay Skurski at 693-1000, ext. 117.