York Catholic won the second District 3 football championship in program history Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. The Irish defeated Newport, 55-21, in the D3 Class 2A title game. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com
York Catholic junior Matt Knauer spent the fall anchoring an offensive line that helped the Fighting Irish capture a district title in football for the first time since 1982.
He's got a lineman's frame, standing 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds. So when Knauer steps on the mound for the York Catholic baseball team this spring, one might expect him to be a power pitcher.
He's not. But that doesn't make him any less effective.
Knauer boasts a fastball, curveball and changeup. He really enjoys the challenge of facing hitters — even more than he enjoys hitting, although he bats cleanup even on days when he pitches.
"I like playing cat and mouse with the hitter," the big righty said. "Trying to fool them, upset their timing and keep them guessing."
When he's not pitching, Knauer mans first base. He's surprisingly nimble for someone of his size.
In the fall, he was named a GameTimePA first-team offensive lineman. He's drawn interest from colleges for both sports, including NCAA Division I FCS school Albany University in football, and York College in baseball, among others.
"Matt doesn't let much bother him out there on the mound," York Catholic coach Joe Gurreri said. "He throws strikes, gets ahead in the count and is tough to hit, despite not being overpowering. He led us in wins and strikeouts last year, as a sophomore."
But Knauer said he thinks his size does aid his pitching abilities.
"My height helps me to get on top of the ball and my strength helps me to throw harder," he said.
This season, the defending YAIAA Division IV champions are operating without the services of senior Brendan Kennedy, a Mount St. Mary's University signee, who was injured playing football in the fall.
So they are looking to Knauer, along with Dillon Hippensteel, Nick DeMarco and Will Catterall to try to make up for the void in the lineup left by Kennedy's absence.
Knauer led the Irish to their first win of the season when he worked six innings in the team's 4-1 win over Biglerville on Monday. He allowed one run and three hits with seven strikeouts and two walks to pickup the victory.