New Castle News

May 15, 2014

WPIAL Baseball Playoffs: Union falls just short of Final Four

Corey J. Corbin
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The Union High baseball team was three outs away from the Final Four.

The 14th-seeded Scotties gave up five runs in the top of the seventh inning to drop a thrilling 12-10 decision to sixth-seeded Riverview in the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals yesterday at Fox Chapel High School.

“It’s fun to get into a game like this,” Union coach Mark Stanley said. “It’s bittersweet. We scored 10, but gave up 12. That’s the nature of the beast. We already used our top two pitchers and they had already used their top starter. We had to ask our catcher to step up and pitch his heart out.

“It was a great game. It had three different phases. They went up 6-0 and we made it 6-3. They made it 7-3 and we got it 7-6. We just kept battling back. It had to be a fun game for people to watch.”

Riverview (14-5) will face Carmichaels, a 17-8 winner over Western Beaver, in the WPIAL semifinals.

The loss capped a hectic three days for Union (8-8). Mother Nature suspended the Scotties’ and Vincentian Academy’s first-round contest tied at 5-5 on Monday. The teams resumed play Tuesday with Union posting a 6-5 win in 10 innings on a suicide squeeze bunt.

The Scotties hit the road for Fox Chapel less than 24 hours after completing the two-day marathon.

“We talked on the way here about how we had an hour bus ride to Montour on Monday and went back home,” Stanley said. “We went back and did again on Tuesday. That ended up being two games in two days.

“I thought we were a little sluggish early-on (yesterday), but we battled through it. There’s no excuses. Riverview just made more plays than we did.”

Meanwhile, Union must say farewell to seniors Jacob Jendrysik, Devan Schuller and Kody Smith.

“If you would have said at the beginning of the season that we’d get this far, I would’ve said you were crazy,” Stanley said. “We were three outs away from the WPIAL Final Four. Kody Smith played every position we asked him to play for us well. For the last weeks, Devan Schuller has hit the ball better than anyone I’ve ever seen. Jacob Jendrysik pitched and played well in center field for us. They showed our young guys how it should be done.”

Having already used Schuller and Jendrysik to pull out the win over Vincentian Academy earlier this week, Union had to press junior Anthony Rush into pitching duty.

Rush put forth a solid effort despite throwing over 120 pitches in seven innings. He allowed eight earned runs on 13 hits and walked seven, while striking out three.

“You have to give Anthony Rush credit,” Stanley said. “He hasn’t pitched in a while and he gave us a yeoman’s effort on the mound. He started to tire after a while, but he knew he had to stay out there with Devan and Jendrysik not being eligible to pitch.”

The Raiders took a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning by plating a single run in the first two innings and four in the third.

The Scotties answered with three runs in their half of the third.

Anthony Bertolino and Cole Gorgacz opened the inning with back-to-back singles before Jendrysik walked to fill the bases with Scotties. Schuller hit into a fielder’s choice for Union’s first run and Smith belted a two-run single to cut the deficit in half.

Now down 7-3 in the bottom of the fourth, Union strung together four singles and walk to pull to within 7-6.

Tim Sumner and Evan Torsello sandwiched singles around a Jendrysik free pass before Schuller delivered a two-run single. Smith followed with another RBI single.

“We talked about chipping away,” Stanley said. “We were able to get three and bounce back and get three more. We were on the doorstep.”

Union took its first lead of the game at 9-7 with a trio of runs in the fifth.

Rush opened the inning with a double and Anthony Bertolino walked before Jendrysik knotted the score at 7 with a RBI single. Torsello followed with a single and Schuller was hit by a pitch. Smith delivered another RBI single for the two-run advantage.

Gorgacz increased the lead to 10-7 in the sixth inning with a RBI single and the Scotties had a chance for more before but Schuller flied out to left field with two outs and the bases loaded.

“We got three more runs and had the lead,” Stanley said. “We were thinking the game was ours. There’s not one ounce of quit in them. I’m proud of how we battled back.”

Riverview took advantage of some Union miscues to score five runs in the top of the seventh.

“Anthony made some good pitches that didn’t go our way,” Stanley said. “They were at the top of their order. If we make some of those plays, it’s a different game. They were hitting the ball hard. They were plays we made against Vincentian and didn’t make (yesterday).

“I don’t think they were easy plays. I wouldn’t call one of them easy. Some days, you make them and others you don’t.”

The Scotties pounded out 15 hits with Smith leading the way with three hits and three RBIs. Schuller had a pair of hits and plated three runs.

Sumner, Torsello, Bertolino and Gorgacz had two hits each for Union.

“We hit the ball well today,” Stanley said. “We hit the ball on the nose. We’ve been hitting the ball much better lately. We had a lot of kids step up, especially the younger guys. When you start hitting, it gets contagious.”

(Email: C_Corbin@ncnewsonline.com).