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Conemaugh Township’s Ryan Heinlein is congratulated by head coach Sam Zambanini after hitting a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning of a PIAA first-round playoff game in Somerset, PA., Monday, June 4, 2018. The shot put his team ahead 3-0, as Conemaugh Township went on to win 6-1.

ALTOONA – Conemaugh Township senior pitcher Tyler Poznanski couldn’t help but smile when asked about being able to start a milestone game for his head coach.

“ ‘Coach Z’ is our gym teacher. He was our football coach. He coached me for two years,” he said. “He’s our baseball coach, and he’s just a great guy. We look up to him, and he just has a love for the game that is unmatched to anyone else.

“He loves the game more than we do, and for me to do that, be able to start on the mound and get him that win, it feels great.”

Poznanski and the Indians wasted no time putting runs on the board Saturday afternoon as they walloped Meyersdale, 19-0, to clinch Indians coach Sam Zambanini’s 400th career win at Peoples Natural Gas Field, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Double-A affiliate Altoona Curve, on Saturday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, the Indians pummeled Berlin Brothersvalley in five innings, 17-3, for Zambanini’s 399th triumph.

“These guys are historically good programs, too,” Zambanini said. “I know Meyersdale is missing a couple of guys. Berlin, I’m sure they had a couple games this week, and they went through a lot of pitching in the first game.

“Those guys are quality programs, and they got quality coaches. That’s not going to happen every time we play them.”

The Indians did much of their damage in the first inning during the second game, starting with an RBI single from Brady Kist scoring Tanner Shirley. The next seven runs were scored either on a wild pitch, a hit-by-pitch or a walk.

Zack Petree helped cap off the frame with a two-run single on a line drive to left field to give Conemaugh Township a whopping 12-0 lead after one inning after the team had went to the plate a staggering 17 times.

“He has a strict process during baseball, but it works,” Poznanski said.

“Since he’s been here, we’ve had great seasons. He’s a great role model and coach, and I’m glad to be playing for him.”

Noah Luprek capped off the scoring with a two-run double in the second inning to help activate the 15-run rule.

Zambanini was happy to provide a lifelong memory for his players being able to play at a professional ballpark after having last season wiped out due to the pandemic.

“It was a thrill for our guys to play at (PNG Field),” he said. “When we had the opportunity and our boosters were saying, ‘What do you think?’, I said, ‘Listen, our guys missed an entire season, I think it’ll be a big thrill for them to play over at the park.’ ”

He was also appreciative of the players who made his 400-win milestone possible.

“This comes with being there a long time,” he said. “Thirty years, it went fast. You don’t do it without great players. They’re the guys who go out and win the games. I’ve been blessed to have a lot of good players come through our program.”

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