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Class 1A Semifinals
ROCKY GROVE 14, SAEGERTOWN 12
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Walk this way to the District 10 Class 1A championship game.
That’s exactly what Rocky Grove did in its D10 semifinal game against Saegertown. The Orioles took advantage of 13 free passes issued by Panther pitching, including five with the bases-loaded en route to a 14-12 victory at Slippery Rock University on Monday.
With the win, the Orioles advance to play Kennedy Catholic in Wednesday’s championship game.
Rocky Grove actually trailed, 3-0, when Saegertown lifted starting pitcher Henry Shaffer in the fourth after he gave up a leadoff double to Caden Toscano. What followed was an offensive barrage, as Aaron Burkhardt hit a 2-run triple, followed by an error to tie the game and an Eli Wilson RBI single that gave the Orioles the lead.
“It was crazy,” Henderson said. “We were up big, but they fought back, but at the end of the day we won. The first time we played them I think we were six up and they ended up coming back and beating us, 9-7, so anything’s possible.”
Anthony Hernandez reached on a single and came around to score on a wild pitch to tie the game a half-inning later, but the Orioles responded with nine unanswered runs.
Five of those runs came courtesy of bases-loaded walks, including three straight in the fifth. In the sixth, Henderson had a 2-run single, Michael Shields an RBI double and Wilson a sacrifice fly, followed by a pair of back-to-back free passes that brought in two more runs.
“We always try to be patient, raise the pitch count,” Henderson said. “Especially their pitcher (Shaffer). We tried to get it as high as possible so we could see somebody else
Henderson exited after going five strong innings on the mound, giving up four runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks, striking out five. He ended up getting the win, but Saegertown certainly made things interesting, scoring four runs in each of the final two frames, turning what was almost a 10-run rule into a situation where they had the tying run at the plate in the seventh inning.
“My curveball was doing what I wanted it do to,” Henderson said. “My fastball I was just putting it into spots and they were popping up, grounding out; I let my team do the work.”
Shaffer, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and four runs, got things going with an RBI double. In the sixth. He came around to score on a passed ball, and Landon Caldwell followed with a 2-run double.
It was Shaffer again in the seventh, plating two runs with a triple to make it 14-10. Zach Balog and Landon Caldwell followed with RBI singles, all of this coming with two outs, to make it 14-12. Isaac Clayton was able to get the final out, however, inducing a ground ball fielder’s choice off the bat of Foxx Mook to end it exactly three hours after the game began.
Wilson and Henderson finished with three RBIs each and Burkhardt two, while Burkhardt and Henderson scored three runs apiece and Shields was 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs. Toscano drew three walks and discord twice and Travis Knupp was 1-for-3 with two runs.
In addition to Shaffer, Dylan Flinchbaugh went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs, while Caldwell was 2-for-4 with three RBIs for the Panthers.
Kennedy Catholic was a 3-0 winner over Cochranton, setting up the matchup with the Orioles.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Henderson said.
KENNEDY CATHOLIC 3, COCHRANTON 0
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – A dominant Cody May and some opportunistic offense proved to be a winning formula for Kennedy Catholic on Monday.
May tossed six shutout innings, Nick Ondo slammed the door in the seventh and the Golden Eagles struck for a pair of runs in the third inning on their way to a 3-0 win over Cochranton in the District 10 Class 1A semifinal at Slippery Rock University.
There was a little bit of drama in the top of the seventh, as Cochranton loaded the bases, but Ondo was able to get a strikeout of Caiden Dunmire to end it.
“At no point did I ever lose confidence in my teammate,” May said. “I knew that Nick was going to get the job done. He’s a great young talent and he’s going to have a good future.”
May struck out seven and worked his way out of a pair of jams – one in the first and another in the sixth.
The Cardinals’ first two batters of the game, Bryce McDonough and Wyatt Barzak, reached on an error and base hit, but May picked McDonough off second base and, after a Josh Merchbaker single, got back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
In the sixth, Caiden Dunmire walked and Jack Rynd singled with one out, but May was up to the task again. He induced a pop out and then got a strikeout to end the threat.
“First inning, I’ll admit I was a little tense,” May said. “You have to get the nerves out. But it’s that way with any game. You just have to have confidence in yourself and your teammates.”
Offensively, the Golden Eagles got to Merchbaker for a pair of runs in the third, courtesy of Santino Multari and a Cardinal miscue. Multari’s infield single brought in the first run of the game and an error on the throw allowed the second run to cross the plate.
Multari and May had some heads up baserunning to plate the third run in the fifth. With Multari on second base after a double, May hit an infield chopper and reached first and never stopped running. Cochranton was able to nab him at second, but not before Multari crossed home plate.
“That’s another instinctual sort of thing with Cody,” said Kennedy Catholic coach Steve Pinney. “He knew we needed to manufacture an insurance run, so he got hung up enough that allowed the guy on third to score, so again that’s a little bit of savviness and experience.”
May finished with seven strikeouts in his six innings of work. He allowed three hits and walked four.
Stargell Fuhr had a pair of singles and a run scored for KC, as did Multari
“My biggest level of trust was to be able to have him come in and kind of establish that presence on the mound after such a long layoff,” Pinney said.
Merchbaker finished with 10 strikeouts in his 5 ⅔ innings of work for Cochranton. Only one of his runs allowed was earned. Merchbaker and Dunmire both reached base twice via a single and a walk apiece.
With the win, the Golden Eagles advance to Wednesday’s title game against either Saegertown or Rocky Grove.
“Just play to the best of our abilities and the rest will fall into place,” May said.
Class 4A Semifinals
HARBOR CREEK 11, WARREN 1, 5 INNINGS
ERIE, Pa. – Harbor Creek struck for six runs in the first inning and never looked back en route to an 11-1, 5 inning win over Warren in their District 10 Class 4A semifinal.
The Huskies had four hits and three walks in the inning. They tacked on another run in the second, and scored four more in the fourth to seal the win.
Cody Smith was stellar on the mound. He allowed just one unearned run on one hit with three walks and nine strikeouts in five innings.
“That’s a good team we just beat,” Smith said. “(Scoring early) really gives us a lot of confidence.”
Smith also had two hits, scored a run and drove in three.
Austin Vaughn and Cam Williamson hit consecutive singles to start the game, then Smith ripped a double into right to bring in both runners and put Harbor Creek up 2-0. One out later, Casey Smith reached on an error and Mike Pepicello and Gio Barbato walked to bring in another run. With two outs, Caleb Herman walked to plate another run and Vaughn singled for the second time in the inning to make it 6-0.
Aidan Kelly singled and scored on a wild pitch in the second.
After a scoreless third, the Huskies got on the board again in the fourth. Pepicello hit a 1-out single,
then Barbato reached on an error. K Moon, who came in as a courtesy runner, scored on the play. Three straight walks brought in another run and Williamson hit a sac fly to center to score a third. Cody Smith singled to bring in the fourth run of the inning and make it 11-0.
Warren got a run across in the fifth. Wit two outs and K Hoffman on base as a courtesy runner, James Swanson reached on an error. Hoffman was able to score on the play to make it 11-1. Cody Smith got Micah Passmore to ground out when Passmore tried to check his swing but put the ball in play, to end the game.
The Huskies will take on Cathedral Prep in the D10 championship game Wednesday.
CATHEDRAL PREP 7, SLIPPERY ROCK 2
ERIE, Pa. – Cathedral Prep scored six runs in the first two innings and Jacob Engel pitched a complete game as the Ramblers advanced to the District 10 Class 4A championship with a 7-2 win over Slippery Rock.
With two outs in the first, Luke Costello and Jack Malec walked then came home on Patrick Sullivan’s single to center to put the Ramblers up 2-0.
Jacob Cooper drew a leadoff walk to start the Cathedral Prep second. One out later, Joe Spano Jr hit an RBI single to left. Reese Colvin singled, and Cole Constable reached on an error to double the lead to 4-0. Costello scored Colvin on a sac fly and Constable came home on a wild pitch for a 6-0 lead.
Slippery Rock plated a pair in the third thanks to some Cathedral Prep fielding issues. Cameron Cygan hit a 1-out single, then Ryan Montgomery reached on an error to put runners on the corners. The first run came in thanks to an error on an attempted throw to second, and the other scored when Sal Mineo reached on an error.
The Rockets would get just three more hits the rest of the way.
Cathedral Prep tacked on an insurance run in the fifth. Costello led off with a walk, stole second and moved to third on a dropped third strike. Jackson Mattocks followed with an RBI double to make it 7-2.
Mattocks finished with two hits while Sullivan drove in a pair. Engel allowed two unearned runs on six hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.
The Ramblers will face Harbor Creek for the D10 title on Wednesday.