NEW CASTLE —
Laurel’s outfielders have quite the challenge — catch any ball in the air.
That might seem like an impossible task, but the Spartans came through yesterday at Shenango in a WPIAL Section 5-AA battle.
R. J. Stewart and Jake Reese produced highlight-reel diving catches on consecutive batters to help preserve Laurel’s 3-0 win over the Wildcats at Chuck Tanner Field.
“I thought our defense was outstanding, especially for a team that’s struggled defensively all year,” Laurel coach Eric Verdi said.
The Spartans (8-4 section, 8-6 overall), who have been inconsistent with the gloves, played error-free baseball against Shenango (5-8, 8-9). Stewart and Reese put the exclamation point on the perfect field performance.
“I thought the outfield has played very well since the start of the year. They work on tracking everything down,” Verdi said. “Our motto is that anything hit in the air shouldn’t hit the ground.”
The two outfielders came up clutch in the bottom of the fourth. With the Spartans ahead, 3-0, Shenango’s Brent McCormick led off with a single and Evan Kendall drew a walk. Pitcher Josh Dando struck out the next batter.
Rob Montanari followed with a soft liner to shallow right field. Stewart gave chase, dove and snagged the ball, which froze the ’Cats’ runners, who had moved to third and second on a wild pitch.
Tyler Booher stepped up and swatted a hard liner to the left-center gap. However, Reese raced after it, dove to his right and hauled in the ball to end the inning.
“They made two great plays. I give them credit,” Shenango coach Mike Othites said. “Both of those guys went full out and made great plays. That was the difference in the game. Both pitchers pitched great.
“It was a good battle. I am proud of my pitcher. That’s the furthest he’s went. I am real pleased with the way he pitched against a good-hitting team.”
Both Dando and Shenango’s James Brown pitched well and yielded four hits apiece. Brown fanned seven, while Dando struck out six.
“I think Josh did great. I told the guys that sometimes our swings are going to be bad. We didn’t have good approaches at the plate, but Josh always gives us a chance to win,” Verdi said. “I had confidence in our defense to make plays and it did. I am proud of them.”
Dando drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the third and Stewart drew a bases-loaded walk to give Laurel a 2-0 edge. The Spartans tacked on a run in the third on Ray Stewart’s single.
The win moves Laurel into a tie for the section’s final WPIAL playoff spot with Neshannock (8-4, 11-4), which was idle. The teams meet Monday at Laurel in a key battle. The Spartans prevailed, 9-2, in the first meeting.
“It’s a big game. It was a big one for us the first time, to stay in it,” Verdi said. “It’s always fun when we play those guys. I am sure they’re looking forward to it and we are, too.”
Wilmington High baseball senior Ryan Brumbaugh hit a milestone yesterday.
Brumbaugh recorded his 100th career run batted in for the Greyhounds in a 13-1 District 10, nonregion road win over Jamestown.
The RBI came on a first-inning single, driving in his younger brother Travis, who is a sophomore.
“Ryan is absolutely special,” Wilmington coach Garett Malinak said. “He’s been special for four years.
“He’s hit third or fourth for me since his freshman year and he’s been on a tear. He’s 15 for his last 20 and he’s doing special things on the baseball field.”
Ryan Brumbaugh reached the mark in just his 65th game. He drove in 30 RBIs in his freshman and junior years, 24 as a sophomore, and he has 17 this season.
“Ryan is such a great kid,” Malinak said. “He makes coaching easy. I’m really happy that he got this milestone. I haven’t come across numbers like that in my career; sometimes you have to shake your head at how good he is. As far as I know, it’s a school record.”
Nate Anthony and Davis Smith recorded three hits each for the Greyhounds (8-4), while Ryan Brumbaugh, Jimmy Pitzulo, Cody Gardner and Hunter Taylor added two apiece.
Anthony, Ryan Brumbaugh, Pitzulo, Scott Onestak and Taylor drove in two runs each.
Wilmington put it away with eight runs in the seventh inning.
Derek Nichols (1-0) started and picked up the win. Nichols gave up five hits and an earned run with a walk and two strikeouts.
The Warriors ended a rough three-day stretch with a Section 5-AA loss at Beaver.
Mohawk (1-12, 1-13) was playing its third game in as many days with an injury-depleted pitching staff and struggled to find a rhythm offensively, settling for three hits against Bobcats starter Nick Hineman. The game was stopped because of the mercy rule after six.
“Hopefully, we’re learning and becoming better players from the experiences we’re going through right now,” Warriors coach Kevin Sapp said. “That’s the most important thing at this point.”
Beaver (10-2, 10-3) accumulated extra base hits in bunches with six doubles and two home runs. Luc Tyler went three-plus innings for Mohawk in his first career start, allowing eight runs —five earned— on nine hits.
“He’s gotten a few innings here and there, but this was his first start,” Sapp said. “On the plus side, he handled himself well out there. They didn’t get to him.”
The host Scotties made quick work of Aliquippa in a Section 3-A rout.
Union (9-3, 11-4) needed five innings to put away the Quips (0-10, 0-10). The Scotties managed only five hits to show for their 12 runs and tallied three defensive errors on top of that, something coach Mark Stanley wasn’t too thrilled about.
“It was a sloppy game. We were sluggish and did not come out like we should have,” he said. “Aliquippa has gotten better. Their coach is making strides with them, because I know what their scores used to be in the past. We can’t afford to play like we did. When we start the playoffs, if we play like that, we are done.”
Union’s Tim Sumner went five innings in his first start and allowed six hits and two runs with seven strikeouts.
“His key there was he didn’t walk anybody. He did a nice job for his first time out,” Stanley said. “He’s been playing shortstop so he’s seen a little varsity action this year. He wasn’t nervous at all; he came out and pounded the strike zone.”
Carrington Bell and Markel Peace chipped in with two RBIs each for the Scotties, and Kody Smith punched out two hits, including a double.
“Kody’s been solid for us all year. Wherever we put him defensively, he does the job,” Stanley said. “He’s fun to coach. He does his job and does what he’s supposed to do.”
Western Beaver 1
The Lady Wildcats broke the game open with four runs in the second inning in a Section 4-A road win over Western Beaver.
The win locks up a share of second place for Shenango (11-3, 13-6) with South Side Beaver (11-3, 12-3).
The Lady Wildcats were limited to just five hits. The Lady Golden Beavers (5-8, 5-9) committed five errors.
“We didn’t put a lot of runs up on the board, but we had a nice cushion throughout the game,” Shenango coach Amy Delaney said. “We were hitting the ball, but we were hitting it right at them.
“We didn’t have many hits, but we were getting on base by any means necessary, by walks or errors.”
Elizabeth Quahliero drove in two runs for the winners.
Macy Rubin (13-6) picked up the win, tossing seven innings. Rubin gave up five hits and an unearned run with two walks and 11 strikeouts.
Rubin, coming off her first no-hitter on Wednesday, didn’t allow her first hit until the fourth inning.
“Macy pitched a really good game,” Delaney said. “The hits that she did give up weren’t until late in the game.
“She pitched very well. She had some pop on the ball and she kept Western Beaver’s hitters off balance. I thought she was very poised out there and she fielded her position well.”
Wilmington’s Abby Sotter was too much for visiting Sharpsville in nonregion play.
Sotter (12-2) pitched a two-hit complete game, striking out five and walking three. She didn’t allow a hit after the third inning, affording only one runner on base via a hit-batsman.
“She’s just a leader. She’s taking the team under her wing I think,” first-year Lady Greyhounds coach Tom Reed said. “She’s doing well.”
Wilmington (12-2) scratched and clawed its way to four runs on six hits. Three of those runs came in the third inning including a Sotter game-winning RBI single that scored Cassidy Marett.
The Lady Blue Devils (4-7) tallied five errors, leading to three unearned runs charged to pitcher Maddie Shuttleworth.
“Other than the errors, the pitchers pretty much controlled the game,” Reed said. “I was impressed with Sharpsville. They’re a very good team. Their pitcher kept us off balance enough. We only had six singles.”
Neshannock earned its eighth consecutive victory at Union in nonsection action.
The Lady Lancers (15-1) have scored at least 10 runs in the last eight contests. The game ended in the third because of the mercy rule.
The Lady Scots (5-10) dropped their fifth decision in a row and have struggled to keep opposing bats at bay, surrendering 15 runs on average during the losing streak.
No further information was provided.
A three-run third inning propelled Mohawk to a Section 5-AA win against visiting Laurel.
The playoff-bound Lady Warriors (10-2, 12-2) collected four hits as seven batters stepped up to the plate in the frame.
Hannah Morrow had the big hit of the inning, a two-run double off of Lady Spartans starter Kristan Fedrizzi. Haley Sainato, Shelby Brown and Lucia Fee added singles.
“We put the ball in play and got a lot of people on base and scored enough to get the win,” Mohawk coach Pam Beatty said.
Morrow finished the game 2 for 3 with a double and three RBIs. She picked up an insurance run for her team with an RBI single in the fifth.
“She came up big. Both hits, there were runners on, and she got RBIs both times,” Beatty said. “There were two outs both times also, so that was big for her.”
Laurel (3-9, 3-12) never had more than one hit in an inning against Lady Warriors starter Jaki Bender (12-2), who went the distance, allowing five hits ,three walks and striking out three. She also added a triple.
“We had to come back and make up those runs. We got two runs back, we just couldn’t manufacture anymore,” Lady Spartans coach Lori Krol said. “They have some really good players and good seniors on that team. I told my girls we got beat by a good team.”
Erica Latess delivered a triple and Makenna Natale ripped an RBI double for Laurel.