NEW CASTLE —
Laurel High’s offense came to life in a big way yesterday.
The Spartans pounded out 15 hits and scored even more runs in a 20-8 home win over New Brighton in WPIAL Section 5-AA baseball action. The game was called after five innings because of the mercy rule.
The victory snapped a two-game skid for Laurel (8-4 section, 13-5 overall), which can clinch a WPIAL playoff berth with a home win over Beaver Falls today.
“I was real happy to see the guys hit the ball the way we hit,” Laurel coach Eric Verdi said. “We took care of business and now have to do it all over again against Beaver Falls.”
Brandon Ritchie led the Spartans attack with two doubles and two singles. Ryan Hites singled four times and drove in five runs. Todd Fennick finished 3 for 3 with three runs and four RBIs, while Dylan Jones added a pair of singles.
Josh Dando was the winning pitcher.
Laurel leads Shenango (7-5, 10-8) by a half game for the section’s final WPIAL playoff spot. The two teams meet Monday at the Wildcats’ field.
A clutch performance by Union sent the Scotties to the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
Union tied the game with two outs in the seventh inning and won it on a solo home run by Devan Schuller in the ninth and final inning of a Section 3-A road game.
The win placed Union in a two-way tie for second place in the section with Western Beaver. And since the Scotties (7-3, 11-6) beat Rochester (6-5, 6-10), which is in third place, in both matchups this year, they would win any tiebreaker with the Rams.
“They really deserved this one,” Union coach Gene DiGennaro said. “They stuck with the game plan and played together as team. They played good defense, we got a good pitching performance and really, all-out hustle won us this game.”
Carrington Bell (5-1) pitched all nine innings, striking out 13 and allowing two runs — one earned.
His teammates made sure he got the win.
Union tied it in the seventh when Drew Robinson reached first base on a wild pitch. Robinson actually struck out on the pitch, but since it got by the catcher, he sprinted to first base and beat the throw. He then stole second and scored on an RBI single by Wayne Seamans.
Schuller, who committed two errors, then connected for his only hit of the game, a home run to center field, his second homer of the season.
“Schuller made two errors, and he could have hung his head, but he didn’t,” DiGennaro said. “That’s not the kind of kid he is. He looked forward to the next play, and he made his at-bat count.”
Bell allowed only four hits and while he walked eight, three came in the first inning when he allowed his only earned run. He was dominant from then on.
“He started off with three walks and a hit batsman and we were able to get out of that with just one run,” DiGennaro said. “He threw about 90 percent fastballs. He had a lot of swings and misses. He just kept getting stronger and he was pounding the strike zone from the second inning on.”