NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – It’s not how you start but how you finish.
Things didn’t start off great for the Sharpsville baseball team in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals, as the D10 champion Blue Devils fell behind fellow Blue Devils, Burgettstown, 3-0, in the top of the third inning before scoring nine combined runs in the fifth and sixth innings to beat the WPIAL third-place finisher, 10-3, at Westminster College Thursday afternoon.
“This season has been a couple of hiccups here and there,” Sharpsville manager Ryan Morris said. “So, we have had plenty of games where we went down. So, this isn’t an unusual situation for us. We kept our heads in the right spot, got one run, then got two runs and started adding them on after that just like we have been doing the whole season.”
The spark plug for Sharpsville was No. 8 hitter Caullin Summers.
Summers started all three scoring rallies for the Blue Devils using a leadoff double in the third to score Sharpsville’s first run and leadoff singles in the fifth and sixth to jumpstart five- and four-run innings respectively. He finished the game 3-for-3 with three runs scored.
“I am like the second leadoff batter,” Summers said. “I am one of our faster guys, so I am just looking to get on base and the top guys can put me in and score.”
Summers’ ability to start things didn’t go unnoticed by his manager.
“Caullin has really stepped up for us this year,” Morris said. “He didn’t play last year. He had a little injury. But we got him back on the field, and he is really doing lots of big things for us, and, hopefully, that continues.”
While Summer was kickstarting the offense, Stephen Tarnoci and Jack Leipheimer were making sure that the deficit didn’t get bigger than the early three runs.
Tarnoci, who has become the Sharpsville workhorse, started and went four innings giving up three runs on three hits and a walk while striking out seven. Outside of a two-out rally by Burgettstown in the third inning, the B-town Blue Devils couldn’t touch him going in order in the first, second, and fourth innings.
“I got a little more than I was expecting from (Tarnoci),” Morris said. “I was actually just hoping to get two innings out of him today. But he actually gave me four. It was big time for us.”
Leipheimer came in to start the fifth inning and was nearly untouchable hitting a batter with one out in the sixth but otherwise not allowing another base runner. He didn’t give up a hit and struck out four in three innings of work to get the win.
“Jack’s one of our leaders,” Morris said. “He just continues to show that and do that for us. Our little pitching combo, at the moment, is working really well. Hopefully, that can continue.”
While Tarnoci and Leipheimer were strutting their stuff, so was Burgettstown starter Brodi Kuzior, at least through the first four innings.
In those innings, Kuzior gave up just four hits and one run while striking out five.
But Shaprsville knocked him from the game with four hits off of him in the fifth inning.
After Summers singled leading off, Carter DeJulia put down a bunt single that he beat out with Summers, who was running on the play, going all the way to third.
Leipheimer then lofted a sac fly to center to get the Blue Devils within a run, 3-2.
After DeJulia took second on a wild pitch, Luke Distler doubled to left to tie the game.
Tanoci then hit a hard ground ball right through the legs of Burgettstown third baseman Wyatt Stevenson to put Sharpsville in the lead, 4-3.
A single by Bradon Scarvel then moved Tarnoci to third and ended the day for Kuzior.
Eric Kovach, another lefty, took over and struck out Josh Divens. But on the strike out there was a passed ball that scored Tarnoci from third and moved Scarvel to second. Scarvel then took third on a wild pitch and scored on another passed ball to make it a 6-3 Sharpsville advantage.
“We know we can hit,” Summers said. “We know we are one of the best-hitting teams. It shows we scored 10 runs.”
Watch Summers’ full postgame interview
The Blue Devils weren’t satisfied with the three-run lead all but putting the game in the books with a four-run sixth innings that featured an RBI single by Leipheimer, an RBI double by Distler, an RBI triple by Tarnoci, and an RBI ground out by Scarvel.
Leipheimer finished the day 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Distler was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored, and two RBIs.
Sharpsville will face Bald Eagle Area, a 6-0 winner over Karns City, in the semifinals Monday, June 12, at a site and time to be announced.
“This is the farthest I have ever been personally,” Morris said. “This is new territory for me. Hopefully, we can continue like that.”
BALD EAGLE AREA 6, KARNS CITY 0
DUBOIS, Pa. – A dominant pitching effort by Bald Eagle Area’s Tyler Serb put an end to Karns City’s season, 6-0 in the PIAA Class 3A quarterfinals.
Serb threw just 55 pitches through six innings and finished his 4-hit shutout with 79 pitches, 57 of which went for strikes in ending a Karns City season that saw the Gremlins win their first state playoff game since 1996.
Rewatch the game:
“He was very good,” Karns City coach Josh Smith said. “Worked fast, good location, good offspeed, good fastbal, that’s a good recipe win. He had 55 pitches going into the seventh inning. That’s a pretty good start by anybody.
The Eagles struck for single runs in the first and second inning, with the first run coming on a throwing error and the run in the second inning coming off an RBI single from Kahale Burns against Mason Sherwin.
BEA scored two more runs in the third, all after two outs. After back-to-back singles by Justin Bisel and Parker Quick, Kaden Burns hit a ball into shallow right field that first baseman Mike Neff tried to make a running catch on, but the ball bounced off his glove, allowing two runs to cross the plate.
It was the combination of Bisel, Quick and Burns again doing the damage in the fifth with two outs. Back-to-back singles by Bisel and Quick were followed by a 2-RBI knock from Burns to make it 6-0.
“We just didn’t play our best game,” Smith said. “We’ve played a lot of really good baseball over the last stretch of the season. Hats off to our seniors, they’ve been an absolute joy to coach. They’re great young men.”
Serb struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter.
Sherwin took the loss, allowing six runs (two earned) in five innings, scattering nine hits, striking out two and walking two. Neff pitched a scoreless sixth inning.
Neff also had two of KC’s four hits
With the win, BEA advances to play D10 champ Sharpsville, a 10-3 winner over Burgettstown, on Monday at a site and time to be determined.
“Even when mistakes happen, we came together as a team,” Smith said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my players. This is a great stepping stone for our program.”
SOUTHERN FULTON 6, WEST MIDDLESEX 1
HOMER CITY, Pa. – A 3-run sixth inning broke the game open as Southern Fulton topped West Middlesex, 6-1, in their PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal.
The Indians held a 3-0 lead through five innings. The Big Reds plated a run in the top of the sixth, but Southern Fulton responded with three in the home half to put the game away.
A double and a single brought in the first run. An error, a fielder’s choice, and a walk plated the second run, and the third run scored before the second out was registered in an inning-ending double play.
Mark Fitz’s 2-run single in the third plated the Indians’ first two runs. Josh Morgan hit an RBI single in the fourth to push the lead to 3-0.
Kyle Gilson and Bowen Briggs hit consecutive 1-out singles in the sixth to put runners on the corners. One out later, Ty Blanton ripped a single to center to bring in the Big Reds’ lone run.
Gio Rococi had a pair of hits for West Middlesex.
Richie Preston took the loss allowing three earned runs on three hits with five walks and two strikeouts in four innings. Gilson allowed two earned runs on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 1 ⅓ innings. Rococi gave up an unearned run and walked one in ⅔ innings.
Morgan had two hits, scored twice, and drove in a pair. Fitz had two RBIs.
Paul Hendershot allowed one earned run on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts in the complete-game win.
Southern Fulton will face Clarion, a 10-0 winner over Saegertown, in the semifinals on Monday at a time and location to be announced.
CLASS 3A QUARTERFINALS
RIVERSIDE 9, FAIRVIEW 3
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Riverside scored four runs in the first and four more in the fifth on its way to a 9-3 win over Fairview in their PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal at Slippery Rock University.
A 2-base error and a single brought the Panthers’ first run in. A hit-by-pitch and a double made it 2-0, and back-to-back sac flys gave Riverside a 4-0 lead at the end of one inning.
The Tigers got on the board in the third. Vinny Campoli reached on an error and courtesy runner Patrick Stafford went to third on Colin Bolla’s double. Stafford came home on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 4-1.
Riverside tacked on its fifth run on an error in the bottom of the third.
The Panthers loaded the bases to lead off the fifth. A sac fly, a double, a single, and a fielder’s choice brought in four runs to push Riverside’s advantage to 9-1.
Campoli singled to lead off the seventh. Aari Fox walked, and Bolla hit an RBI double to bring Campoli home. Fox scored when Will Fessler reached on an error. Panthers pitcher Drake Fox got a strikeout and a pop out to end it and send Riverside to the semifinals.
Ashton Schlosser and Hunter Garvin each had two hits and scored twice for the Panthers. Mitch Garvin and Drake Fox had two RBIs each.
Christian Lucarelli got the win allowing one unearned run on three hits with four walks and 11 strikeouts in five innings.
Bolla had three hits, including two doubles, and an RBI, while Campoli had a pair of hits and scored a run.
Campoli took the loss allowing seven runs, four earned, on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts in four innings. Aari Fox gave up two earned runs on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 1 ⅓ innings. Tyler Benford struck out one in ⅔ inning.
Riverside will face Punxsutawney/Phillipsburg-Osceola in the Class 3A semifinals on Monday at a site and time to be announced.
HOPEWELL 4, CATHEDRAL PREP 2
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Hopewell continued its magical run through the postseason as the Vikings knocked off Cathedral Prep, 4-2, in their PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal at Slippery Rock University.
The Ramblers had a chance to tie or win the game in the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second and one out, but David Medich got a strikeout and a flyout to end it and send Hopewell to the state semifinals.
The Vikings took the lead for good with a 3-run third. Two walks and a double loaded the bases with one out. Landon Fox’s RBI single tied the game at 1-1. Lucas Walton followed with a 2-run single to give Hopewell the lead, 3-1.
Stephen Slate’s sac fly in the fourth pushed the lead to 4-1.
Cathedral Prep got one back in the fifth when Andrew Costello tripled home Cole Constable to cut the deficit to 4-2.
John Koshan was hit by a pitch to start the Prep seventh. One out later, Nick Jackson walked to put runners on first and second. Constable struck out and Costello flew out to right to end it.
Constable had a pair of hits and scored a run. Costello scored once and drove in a run, and Joey Spano tripled.
Jason Fultz took the loss allowing three earned runs on four hits with four walks and five strikeouts in 2 ⅓ innings. Andrew Malec allowed one earned run on four hits with three strikeouts in 4 ⅔ innings.
Lucas Arrington had a pair of hits, including a double, and scored a run for the Vikings. Ty Eberhart tripled and scored a run.
Fox got the win allowing two earned runs on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts in 6 ⅓ innings. Medich had a strikeout in ⅔ relief innings.
Hopewell, which won the WPIAL title after entering those playoffs as the 14 seed, will face Bellefonte, an 11-5 winner over Indiana, in the semifinals on Monday at a time and location to be announced.