Last Updated: Tue Jun 06, 2023 - 4:45PM
When Billy Perroz started his baseball career at Kiski Area, the Cavaliers were among towards the bottom of their classification. Two years later, though, the Cavs were a playoff participant. Although Perroz didn’t have a chance to lead his team a step further in his senior season because of COVID, he has continued to excel on the diamond in college. He recently wrapped up an All-Conference season at Saint Vincent College, helping his team reach the conference title game. Perroz is the featured athlete on this edition of the Westmoreland Alum Q&A.
Perroz played a key role on the Kiski Area varsity team as a freshman in 2017. He appeared in 18 games, batting .159 with a pair of RBIs. The Cavaliers struggled mightily, however, going just 2-17 overall, including 1-11 in section play, missing the postseason.
The next season, Perroz played in 16 contests, compiling a .349 batting average, nine runs, 11 RBIs, and a home run. He also pitched four innings, posting an ERA of 1.75. As a result, he received Second-Team All-Conference honors. The Cavs went 4-13 overall, including 4-8 in the section ledger, again failing to qualify for the playoffs.
As a junior, Perroz developed into a star, as he played in 19 games, batting .464 with 20 runs and 15 RBIs. On the mound, he went 0-3 with an ERA of 4.39 in 22.1 innings, notching 15 strikeouts. Bolstered by his First-Team All-Conference performance, KA achieved a mark of 9-11, including 6-6 in section play. The Cavaliers qualified for the WPIAL Class 5A postseason, but fell to Laurel Highlands in the first round.
Perroz, who also competed in golf and bowling at Kiski Area, saw his senior campaign cancelled in 2020 as a result of COVID.
Following his graduation, Perroz joined the baseball team at Indiana University of Pennsylvania as a utility player. As a freshman, he played in 20 games, including a dozen starts, posting an average of .091 with two runs and a pair of RBIs. The Crimson Hawks struggled mightily, going just 2-35 overall, including 1-27 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
Perroz transferred to Saint Vincent College for the 2022 season, and made an immediate impact with the Bearcats. He played in 35 games, including 33 starts, and hit .395 with 25 runs, 26 RBIs, and four homers. As a result, Perroz was recognized as First-Team All-PAC. The Bearcats enjoyed a strong season, posting a record of 24-14, including 20-6 in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC). In the PAC Tournament, SVC lost to Grove City College and Westminster College to conclude the season.
This season, Perroz elevated his game further, as he started all 40 games, primarily playing at first base. He batted .423 with 42 runs, 39 RBIs, and seven home runs. Once again, he was honored as First-Team All-PAC, and he was also a member of the PAC All-Tournament Team. His stellar campaign helped the Bearcats achieve a mark of 22-18, including 13-7 in the conference. In the PAC Tournament, Saint Vincent lost to Grove City College, but rebounded by defeating Westminster and then avenging the previous outcome by ousting the Wolverines. However, SVC fell to Washington & Jefferson in the championship round.
With his junior season now concluded, Billy took time to respond to questions about his robust batting average, his decision to transfer to Saint Vincent, and which pitcher he’d like to face for one at-bat.
Q: You batted nearly .400 last year, and are well over that mark this season. What are the keys to your outstanding average?
A: My key to hitting so well is to put the ball in play and hit it as hard as I can. I try to eliminate my strikeouts and keep everything as simple as possible. Putting the ball in play gives me a chance to hit it where the defense isn’t.
Q: What are your biggest areas of development as a player during your time at Saint Vincent?
A: My biggest areas of development at Saint Vincent are the mental side of baseball, defense, and power. With team lifts and other teammates pushing me in the weight room, I have seen a tremendous improvement on how hard I can hit the ball. I’ve never been an outstanding defensive player, so improving my footwork and skills at first base has been valuable. As the mental side goes, it’s just knowing what to do in certain situations and using my knowledge of the game to help my teammates out as much as I can.
Q: You have played both at first base and in the outfield during your time in college. How have you handled the adjustments, and which position is your best?
A: Adjusting from outfield to first base wasn’t that difficult to me. At both positions, the main goal is to catch the ball, and with first, it makes it a little easier on my arm. I’ve played first base for most of my baseball career and I feel the most comfortable there.
Q: What team and individual goals did you set for 2023?
A: My individual goals for the 2023 season were to get first-team all-conference and hit over .400. Last year, I finished at .389 I believe, and I knew I had more in me. As a team, our goal every year is to get to the PAC championship game and win it all. Our goal every day is to get 1 percent better.
Q: What led to your decision to transfer to Saint Vincent?
A: I transferred from IUP to Saint Vincent because I got cut. A new coach came into IUP and the first day of fall practice, I got injured. A month later, he cut me because he never saw me play. I wanted to still play collegiate baseball, so I entered the portal. Every day after I got cut, I had and still have a chip on my shoulder to prove him wrong. Coach Janosko was one of the first people to reach out. I played with some of the team already, and the computer science program here is outstanding. I knew it would be a perfect fit for me.
Q: What is your major and ideal future profession?
A: My major is computer science. I would love to work in IT services, cybersecurity, or web development. I’ve taken classes at Saint Vincent that cover all of those, and I found I have the most interest in those fields.
Q: What has been your most challenging college class?
A: My most challenging class I’ve taken in college is psychology. I’m more of a technology and numbers guy, so I really struggled in that class. When I was taking psychology, I was also commuting to Saint Vincent from IUP because I couldn’t get out of my lease. Commuting 45 minutes every day was a struggle in itself. Once I got a place close to Saint Vincent, my grades improved significantly.
Q: You also competed in golf and bowling in high school. How did those sports benefit you?
A: Golf and bowling had big influences on who I am today. I still go out golfing with some of my teammates at Saint Vincent. It’s like a little get away if I’m ever struggling in baseball. I’ll just go out and play 18 holes to get my mind off of everything. Bowling has been in my family for generations, and it was a great experience for me to bowl during high school and make it to regionals.
Q: What was your fondest memory during your time at Kiski Area?
A: My favorite memory at Kiski was making it to the WPIAL baseball playoffs my junior year. The game we won to make it to the playoffs was against our rival, Armstrong. It was an awesome experience since I didn’t get my senior season because of COVID in 2020.
Q: Do you still follow the Cavaliers or WPIAL baseball?
A: I still follow Kiski here and there for all sports, but I haven’t had a chance to go out and watch any of the games. I also keep up with my high school coach, Aaron Albert, who is now coaching at Hampton. He had a big influence on the player I am today, and I couldn’t be the player I am today without Kiski, him, and the team we had.
Q: If you could have one at-bat against any pitcher, past or present, who would you choose? What would be the outcome?
A: If I could have one at-bat with any pitcher, I would have to choose Shohei Ohtani. I would probably strike out, but I would love the experience to see what he actually has while I’m in the box.
Q: Do you use water, a sports drink, or something else during baseball?
A: I’m not really superstitious with what I drink during games. I’ll usually drink Gatorade or water. If it’s Gatorade, it has to be the light blue or yellow one.
Q: To which movie or TV show can you recite nearly every line?
A: My favorite TV show growing up was SpongeBob. I can recite almost any episode except for the new ones. After the first SpongeBob movie came out, the episodes started to go downhill, so that’s when I stopped watching.
Q: If you were stranded on an island with one teammate, who would you choose? Why?
A: If I was stranded on an island with one teammate, I would choose Connor Bannias. He’s one of my best friends, and he knows the outdoors like the back of his hand, so I would have the best chance of surviving with him. We go fishing all the time, so I learn a lot going out with him.