The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford baseball program features many local stars who decided to stay home to play their college baseball.
At the helm is Zach Foster, another former local star who has returned home to coach the next generation of UPB baseball players.
Bradford Area High School alum Andrew Bacha was called upon to be one of the lead starting pitchers of the Panthers baseball team this past season, and he rose to the occasion.
Bacha began playing baseball as a four or five year old, and his love for the game would only grow from his days as a tee-baller.
Bacha’s love for baseball grew in 2004 when the Red Sox snapped “The Curse of the Bambino”; and famously battled back from a 3-0 defecit in the American League Championship Series to stun the New York Yankees. From there, Bacha became a Red Sox fan and his passion for the Red Sox and baseball has only grown.
When Bacha got to Little League, he began to get more serious about playing the game and started his travel baseball career which would last for seven total summers. Playing for the Bradford Drillers for many years, Bacha began to understand what kind of competition there was outside of the small community of Bradford.
“Travel baseball allowed myself and many of my closest friends to get out on the diamond more to play and develop our baseball skills together,” he said. “It allowed us to have a great chemistry for high school and American Legion baseball.”
The Drillers began by playing local tournaments in Buffalo and Pittsburgh, but eventually as the team got older, the Drillers played in some of the best travel baseball tournaments in Cooperstown and also at the Ripken Baseball Tournaments in Maryland.
It was this competition that had Bacha ready for the type of competition he would face as a player in District 9. In his senior season of high school, Bacha was named a D9 League and Big 30 All-Star as a pitcher. When reflecting on his baseball career as an Owl, Bacha said, “I really cherish those memories putting on the red and black. We had some great teams during my high school career including a team my junior year that had the best single season record in school history. I am thankful to still be playing with a few of my high school teammates to this day which not many college baseball players can say.”
So far in his three-year college career, Bacha has appeared in 26 total games on the mound with 16 starts over the past two seasons. In his career, Bacha has struck out 71 batters in 99.2 total innings while winning six games for the Panthers.
While Pitt-Bradford fell short in qualifying for the conference playoffs last season, Bacha and his teammates envision 2019 having a better result.
“We are happy to bring back many key members of the team next season and also some great recruits,” he said. “Our team needs to buy into what Coach Foster is asking us to do in our throwing programs as well as in our work in the weightroom. Continuing to do the small things and working together will be key for us in 2020.”
Andrew credits his parents, Sonja and Barry for all the support they’ve shown during his life.
“My parents are the reason I am who I am today. They have put me in a great position to succeed in baseball. They know how to reinforce that all I can do is give my best effort that day. They never miss Pitt-Bradford baseball games and have given up so much time to come watch me play. Their support means so much to me.”
Bacha also listed Foster as another key mentor and supporter in his life.
“I have known Coach Foster for a long time. He has always been someone I can talk to about not just baseball, but truly anything with. He preaches excellence to us in all that we do, and that has helped me personally as well as a numerous teammates and former players of his. He knows how to help me believe in myself as a pitcher, and his confidence in me means the world.”
With one year left in his college baseball carer, Bacha admits to thinking more about what could be next after his playing career comes to a close. He is hopeful to work in the sports industry in business and also coach some travel and Little League baseball teams at some point in the future. As for a dream job, Bacha hopes to someday get the opportunity to walk into Fenway Park every day to go to work and enjoy the game he loves while watching his favorite team.
With a strong core returning to UPB in 2020 and two of his closest friends in Sawyer Packard and Ryan Boyer also coming back for their senior seasons, Bacha knows this team has great chemistry and a strong trust in one another. The Pitt-Bradford baseball brotherhood is real, and Andrew Bacha is going to continue to enjoy and reflect on the memories of being one of the “Bradford Boys” on the team.