NEW CASTLE —
The Laurel High baseball team climbed into playoff contention yesterday.
Brandon Ritchie worked around his nine walks by surrendering just three hits, pitching the Spartans to a 9-2 WPIAL Section 5-AA road win over the Lancers.
Ritchie (3-1), a George Washington University recruit, went the distance, giving up two earned runs and striking out eight.
“His control wasn’t where he wanted it to be or where we wanted it to be. But he battled and we made some plays,” Laurel coach Eric Verdi said. “We got some breaks; I’m very proud of the kids. This is a big win.”
The win vaults the Spartans ( 5-2 section, 5-3 overall), winners of four straight, into a third-place tie with the Lancers (5-2, 8-2).
“I did feel this was a must-win game for us,” Verdi said. “We were 4-2 (in the section) and we didn’t play very well against Riverside.
“We really needed this game. We preached it all week that we have to beat the good teams.”
Neshannock was coming off an emotional 2-1 win over Beaver (5-1, 5-2), which is a half-game behind the Panthers (6-1, 9-2) for first place in the section.
“It definitely does,” said Lancers coach Mike Kirkwood if the loss takes anything away from the win over Beaver. “We played Riverside tough. We beat Beaver. I told the kids after the win over Beaver, it’s a nice win. But it means absolutely nothing unless we beat Laurel.
“Laurel is playing very well right now, they’re playing as a team and they’re playing hard. That’s a credit to coach Verdi.”
The Lancers are ranked second in the WPIAL in Class AA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, while Riverside, the two-time defending PIAA champions, are ranked No. 1. The Bobcats are ranked third.
Neshannock captured the last two WPIAL Class A championships before climbing to double-A this season.
The Spartans jumped on Neshannock starter John Conglose for four runs in the top of the first inning.
“It’s very big to score like that early,” Verdi said. “Anytime you have Brandon on the mound, we know we just need a few.”
Conglose (3-1) took the loss. He tossed three innings, surrendering five hits and four runs — three earned — with a walk and a strikeout.
“Conglose has been pitching well for us and throwing strikes,” Kirkwood said. “But giving Brandon Ritchie that much room makes it tough to come back.”
Nick Peluso recorded two hits for Laurel, including a two-run homer in the first inning, his first of the year. He added an RBI single with two outs in the seventh for insurance.
“Nick’s homer was big,” Verdi said. “He had a real big hit in the seventh, too.”
The Spartans tallied their other five runs in the seventh.
The Lancers got single runs in the third and fifth frames.
“We knew going in that we wanted to be patient against Brandon,” Kirkwood said. “We didn’t want to chase pitches.
“We got the walks and we hit a couple of balls hard. We just couldn’t get that big hit that we needed.”
The Wildcats came alive in the fourth inning en route to a Section 5-AA home win over Mohawk. The game was stopped in the fifth because of the mercy rule.
Shenango scored four runs in the frame to build a 5-0 lead off Mohawk starter Joe Quear. The Wildcats did their damage in the fourth with two outs.
“Quear kept us off balance in the first three innings,” Shenango coach Mike Othites said. “Things started to fall in for us and it was nice to see; I hope this means we’re ready to break out a little bit.”
Ryley Ferrari paced the Wildcats (3-4, 5-5) with three hits, while Tyler Welsh, Evan Kendall and Anthony Prestopine added two apiece.
Welsh drove in four runs as well. His key hit was a three-run double off the bottom of the wall in the fifth.
“Welsh has been hitting the ball better and harder,” Othites said.
Kendall (1-1) earned the win. He tossed a complete game, allowing six hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
Kendall had one rough spot in the third when the Warriors (1-6, 1-7) loaded the bases with one out. But he got a popup and a strikeout to end the threat.
Quear took the loss, working 4 2/3 innings. He allowed 10 hits and nine runs — seven earned — with three walks and two strikeouts.
Fox Chapel 7
New Castle 5
The third inning caused trouble for the ’Canes in a Section 1-AAAA loss at Fox Chapel.
After taking an early 3-1 lead, New Castle struggled to get through the frame, allowing six runs on three hits and three walks.
“After that they didn’t do much else, but we were fighting back the rest of the game,” ’Canes coach Paul Malley Jr. said.
Starter Mark Graziani was pulled after 2 1/3 innings, four hits, five runs and three earned against.
Julian Cox, Vinny Jannetti, Ethan Pagley and Gary Stone slapped two hits each. Cox had two RBIs and Pagley notched a double.
The ’Canes (1-4, 3-7) had a chance to do damage in the latter portion of the game with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, but couldn’t come up with a big hit. New Castle outhit the Foxes (3-2, 5-4), 11-6.
Ellwood City 8
Pitching continued to be an issue for Ellwood City in a Section 5-AA loss to visiting Riverside.
“That was the main problem,” Wolverines coach Jeff Fotia said “The walks and the hits. It’s been a problem all year. You score eight runs, you should win. That’s our problem.”
Colin Roth failed to record an out to start the game for Ellwood, as the first-place Panthers (6-1, 9-2) held a 4-0 lead before the Wolverines got a chance to bat.
Ellwood (1-6, 2-9) kept pace with four runs each in the first and seventh, but was never able to match the offensive output of Riverside.
Seth Ioanilli tallied a triple and three RBIs for the Wolverines, while teammate Dillon Horgan also knocked in three and slapped two hits.
Union swung hot bats in a Section 3-A triumph at Rochester.
The Scotties (4-2, 4-3) scored runs in every inning but the seventh, and totaled 12 hits.
Wayne Seamans and Jacob Jendrysik powered Union with a combined five hits. Seamans smacked three singles and knocked in two from the leadoff spot.
“He’s just hitting the ball on the nose all the time,” Scotties coach Mark Stanley said. “He’s been getting on base and doing his job. He’s making us go right now.”
Jendrysik is producing from an unusual position in the batting order, ninth. He finished with two hits, a home run and four RBIs.
“He’s hitting the ball hard. He’s like our second leadoff,” Stanley said. “He made good contact.”
The game was a back-and-forth tilt with the decision in the balance until the very end as both teams struggled on the mound.
“From our part, any time you have seven bases on balls and seven hits, anytime you walk that many, they’re going to get runs,” Stanley said.
Joe Salmen closed the door with two innings in relief to pick up his first save. Salmen loaded the bases in the seventh inning, only to induce a double play to end the ballgame.
“You never felt like it was over. It’s 320 feet to center field. If they pop one, they can get it out of there,” Stanley said. “They hit it hard to shortstop, and we were able to turn it.”
The Rams (3-3, 3-4) dropped into sole possession of third place in the section with the loss.
New Castle 7,
Central Valley 0
Carley Aven had the performance of her career for the New Castle High softball team yesterday.
The Lady ’Canes starter pitched a no-hitter, shutting down visiting Central Valley in a 7-0 WPIAL Section 1-AAA victory.
“It was just beautiful,” New Castle coach Leah Ann Williams said. “As a pitcher myself, it was a thing of beauty.”
Lady Warriors hitters were baffled at Aven’s pitching repertoire, falling victim to 11 strikeouts through seven innings.
“It was a combination of things. She really moved the ball well as far as hitting her spots,” Williams said. “She also really changed her speeds well. She really kept them off balance.”
The Lady ’Canes (4-3 section, 5-5 overall) have strung together two consecutive section victories on the power of Aven’s pitching and a trust that has developed in the field.
“I think her biggest thing is she is getting more confidence,” Williams said. “She is starting to trust in her teammates in knowing that all she has to do is pitch the ball. It’s not just on her. I think in the beginning of the year, she was trying to do everything herself. You can’t do that as a pitcher. You have to trust your teammates to support you. They’re getting that nice chemistry.”
Aven (3-4) was not the only bright spot for New Castle, as the Lady ’Canes’ bats continued to scorch the ball, accounting for 12 hits. New Castle was coming off a nine-run performance at Ambridge.
“Everybody just pounded the ball,” Williams said. “Even the kids who didn’t get an actual hit, hit the ball hard.”
Alyea Cioffi was 3 for 3 with a triple and three RBIs. Christina Evans and Jenna Frank totaled three hits each, with Evans collecting an RBI.
South Side Beaver 3
Shenango High’s Kim Burdett was unstoppable at the plate yesterday.
Burdett went 4 for 4 to lead the Lady Wildcats to a critical 6-3 WPIAL Section 4-A road win over South Side Beaver.
“This was a very exciting game and a very exciting win,” Shenango coach Amy Delaney said. “The girls were pumped up for the game and it was big to jump out early against them; it kind of set the tone.
“It was an all-around good game for us. We know every game going in with South Side Beaver is going to be a battle. It’s going to be a test and a hard-fought game.”
The win avenges an 8-6 loss earlier in the year to the Lady Rams. It also forces a tie for second place in the section between the teams. Shenango stands at 7-2, 8-5 and South Side Beaver is 7-2, 7-2.
Neshannock leads the section at 9-0, 9-1, owning a win each over the Lady Wildcats and Lady Rams.
Burdett belted a home run and five RBIs as well. The homer, a two-run shot, came in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie.
Two of Burdett’s other three hits were doubles.
“Kimmy hit exceptionally well just as she has all season for us,” Delaney said. “She was hitting ropes all over the place. Her home run was a line-drive shot.”
Megan Gecina added two hits for the winners.
Macy Rubin (7-2, 8-5), who is a freshman, recorded the win. Rubin worked seven innings, allowing seven hits and three runs — two earned — with a walk and five strikeouts.
“Macy pitched a very good game today,” Delaney said. “This is a pivotal game for her, too. She matured right before our eyes today.
“She was very comfortable in the circle and in control of her pitches.”
Shenango scored one run in the first, two in the fifth and three more in the sixth. The Lady Rams notched solo runs in the third, sixth and seventh innings.
Mohawk was limited to two singles in dropping a Section 5-AA road verdict to Riverside. Hannah Morrow and Leah Woytek recorded the hits for the Lady Warriors.
“We had a couple of nice shots but they were right at their outfielders,” Mohawk coach Pam Beatty said. “We had runners on in every inning but one. We just had a hard time getting them over; we’re just not finishing.”
Jaki Bender (7-2) took the loss. Bender pitched six innings, giving up six hits and four runs — two earned — with five walks and a strikeout.
“Jaki pitched a great game,” Beatty said. “They had some hard-hit balls, but she didn’t give them the chance to get as many hard-hit balls as they did the last time we played them.”
The Lady Panthers (7-0, 7-0) won the first meeting between the teams, 9-5.
Mohawk (6-2, 7-2) sits in second place in the section with a two-game cushion over third-place New Brighton (4-4, 8-4) with four league games left.
“Your main goal is to win the section,” Beatty said. “Riverside beat us both times. Now we just have to battle and see how close we can get to them.
“Maybe someone will upset them. But you can only do what you can do. We have to handle our own games the rest of the way.”
Riverside scored a run in the second, one in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
The Lady Warriors scored their lone run in the fifth.
Quigley Catholic 0
Neshannock banged out 15 hits as a team in a Section 4-A road win over Quigley Catholic. The game was stopped after five innings because of the mercy rule.
Rayanna Furst led the Lady Lancers’ hit parade with three. Jamie Graziani added two hits and three RBIs.
Marissa DeMatteo, Madison Altmyer, Alexandra Fischer and Rachel Iorio added two hits apiece. Fischer laced a double and a triple.
Madison Shaffer (9-1) picked up the win. Shaffer pitched three innings, giving up one hit with a walk and eight strikeouts.
The Lady Lancers scored two runs in the first, three in the second, five in the third and another in the fourth.
Neshannock travels to second-place Shenango at 4 p.m. Monday in a key section encounter.
Western Beaver 15,
Injuries hindered Union in a Section 4-A defeat to Western Beaver.
The visiting Lady Golden Beavers (4-5, 4-5) did their damage in the middle innings, tallying 13 runs between the fourth and sixth.
Lady Scots starter Ariel Junkin (4-5) battled through an upper body injury before being removed in the fourth after allowing 11 runs and five earned.
“She has gutted it out, but she’s just trying to do the best she can under the circumstances,” Union coach Gary Trimble said.
The Lady Scots (4-5, 4-5) outlasted the same Western Beaver team on Monday, using a strong performance by Junkin to propel to a 6-5 win. With a hobbled Junkin, and an injury to position player Allison Bertolino earlier in the contest, the Lady Scots failed to duplicate that success.
“We didn’t play well defensively,” Trimble said. “They had their share of hits, but we had quite a few errors, too. We didn’t do well defensively which put more pressure on our pitchers.”
Six errors were costly enough that 14 Union hits couldn’t put the team ahead.
Johnna Johnston, who hit the game-winning home run against the Lady Golden Beavers on Monday, hit her second of the season and added a double and four RBIs. Casey Brophy also homered, her first, to go with three hits and three RBIs. Lasha Clark stole three bases and posted a double for the Lady Scots. Gina Gaibis added a double and two RBIs.
One bad inning left Laurel on the losing end of a Section 5-AA battle against visiting Beaver.
With the score tied at 1, the Lady Spartans (2-5, 2-6) surrendered eight runs on eight hits in the second.
Makenna Natale (1-4) picked up the loss after two innings, 10 hits and eight earned runs.
“It wasn’t a bad inning. They just hit the ball like crazy,” Laurel coach Lori Krol said. “They were just solid hits. You just have to battle with the bats and get those runs back.”
The Lady Spartans fought back, outscoring the Lady Bobcats (3-3, 4-3) by a margin of 4-1 the remainder of the game, but the rally fell short.
Erica Latess ripped her third home run of the season and also lined a double for two RBIs.
Sidney Switzer and Stephanie Telesz had two hits each.
Wilmington scored five runs in the fourth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit and post a District 10, Region 2-AA road win over Lakeview.
“This was our first game after playing Neshannock and I thought we hit the ball pretty well,” first-year Lady Greyhounds coach Tom Reed said. “Lakeview made some good plays, though.”
Abby Sotter (8-0) earned the win. Sotter pitched seven innings, surrendering six hits and three runs — two earned — with a walk and nine strikeouts.
Sotter also had two hits.
Kristen Klein posted two hits and a pair of RBIs for Wilmington (3-0, 8-0) and Chelsea Rogel added two hits.
The Lady Greyhounds put the game away with two runs in the seventh.
Lakeview (1-2, 3-3) scored two runs in the first and another in the sixth.
Lancers fare well
Neshannock competed with 15 other teams in the Midwestern Athletic Conference Team Tournament at Brady’s Run and Blackhawk High.
Quaker Valley won the team championship. Lancers coach Chuck Dess believes his team placed eighth in the event.
In singles, the Lancers’ Max Watters, who was unseeded, lost to eighth-seeded Matt Barnes of Ellwood City, 6-4, at No. 1.
Neshannock’s Joe Bullano, seeded fifth, knocked off Andrew Bean (Central Valley), 6-0, at No. 2 singles. Bullano lost in the quarterfinals to Moon’s Andrew Morgan, 8-5.
The Lancers’ Nick Hautala, seeded sixth, topped Jordan Boring (Riverside), 6-2, at No. 3 singles. Hautala lost in the quarterfinals to Jack Kroger (Beaver), 8-0.
In doubles action, Neshannock’s No. 1 team of Mike Maciarello/Connor Richards were seeded No. 3 and earned a first-round bye. The tandem lost in the quarterfinals to a team from Mars, 8-3.
The Lancers’ No. 2 team of Nick Montini/Mitch Cialella were seeded sixth and topped a team from West Allegheny in the first round, 6-2. They lost to a team from Quaker Valley in the quarterfinals, 8-2.
Lucas Grim, Gio Menichino and John Zagotti lifted Mohawk to an 83-67 win over Laurel .
Grim captured a 400, 800 and 3200 relay victory while Zagotti won the 100, 400 relay and long jump.
Menichino fielded the top effort in the 300 hurdles, 1600 relay and 3200 relay.
Ethan Wilson broke his own school record in the javelin for the Spartans with toss of 163-8. He set the previous mark of 163-2 earlier in the year.
Wilson also earned victory in the 1600 and 3200.
Ellwood City struggled in a 109-41 loss to Riverside in a dual meet with Union.
Keaton Docchio earned victory in the 110 hurdles, long jump and 400 relay.
The Wolverines rebounded for a 106-43 triumph against the Scotties.
Docchio scored victory in the 100, 110 hurdles, 400 relay and long jump.
New Castle falls
The ’Canes dropped a 106-44 decision to West Allegheny.
Antonio Rudolph and Levar Ware were the bright spots in defeat, with Rudolph placing first in the 400 and high jump and Ware recording the best distance in the discus and javelin.
The Lady Wolverines registered two victories against Riverside and Union.
Ellwood upended the Lady Scots 121-27, with Angela McCowin leading the charge.
McCowin set a school record in the 100 hurdles at 14.8.
She claimed first place in the 300 hurdles, 400 relay and high jump as well.
Janis McGill paced the pack in the 1600 and 3200 for Union.
Andi Hozick took the spotlight as Ellwood nipped Riverside, 76-74.
Hozick bested the field in the 400 relay, shot put, discus and javelin.
McCowin again scored well with victories in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 400 relay and high jump.
Lady ’Canes struggle
New Castle couldn’t keep up with West Allegheny in a 130-20 defeat.
The Lady ’Canes took three events, with Areonna DeJohn winning the discus, Tara Treloar the pole vault and Jamay Walker the shot put.
The Lady Warriors couldn’t be beat in a 121-29 triumph over Laurel.
Maria Fleck produced a first-place performance in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 400 relay and 1600 relay.
Teammate McKenzie Stelter also finished first in the long jump, triple jump and 400 relay.
NEW CASTLE —
The Laurel High baseball team climbed into playoff contention yesterday.
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