NEW CASTLE —
Neshannock High seems primed for another postseason run.
The Lancers finished the season undefeated in WPIAL Section 3-A play with its 5-1 win over visiting Union yesterday.
Alex Welker improved to 4-1, allowing just one hit and one unearned run over five innings. He struck out six and walked three. He gave way to Mike Ross, who fanned three, walked one and yielded two hits over two innings to earn his first save.
Both pitchers will play key roles for the Lancers (12-0 section, 18-2 overall), who are ranked second in the WPIAL in Class A by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in the playoffs.
“Our biggest thing all year is, we lost our No. 2 pitcher, Joe Cioffi, and we’ve been trying to find out who’s going to be our No. 2,” Neshannock coach Mike Kirkwood said. “We think Welker and Ross are a nice combination to give us a good No. 2 duo.”
Matt Cioffi and John Sansone led the Lancers’ offense. Cioffi was 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI, and Sansone went 2 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI. Each provided a pair of RBI singles in a two-run second inning.
Neshannock ended the year with its fifth-straight section title. They’re 44-1 in the section over that span.
“It’s a pretty good accomplishment, especially for our seniors,” Kirkwood said. “They worked hard over the last four years.”
Laurel’s Brandon Ritchie struck out 14 batters as the Spartans completed the regular season with a road win over Section 5-AA rival Shenango.
Ritchie yielded one run on four hits and two walks. He also went 1 for 3 with an RBI at the plate.
“Early in the game, he didn’t have real good command of the curve or the change,” Laurel coach Eric Verdi said. “He had to rely on the fastball, but after about the third or fourth inning he was able to throw the curve and change for strikes, so he could rely on that as well.”
Up 1-0, the playoff-bound Spartans (10-4, 15-5) extended their lead to 3-0 in the third, when Rick Jones belted a solo home run to left-center field. Ritchie added an RBI single later in the game.
Jordan O’Hara started and pitched 2 1/3 innings, allowing three runs — two earned — on three hits and three walks. He struck out two and fell to 0-1. Doug Bennett led Shenango, which started all its seniors, by going 2 for 3.
“The best way to summarize (this season) is that we were inconsistent,” Shenango coach Mike Othites said. “We won some big games, but then we came back and lost to some teams we shouldn’t. This section is too good to do that.
“This was their last time together,” he added, “and they battled one of the best pitchers in the league all the way to the end.”
South Side Beaver 7,
Mohawk came up just short in its season finale as South Side Beaver scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning to edge the Warriors in a Section 5-AA clash.
The host Warriors (1-13, 2-18) tied the game at 5 on Tyler Rader’s two-out RBI double in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Shane McFarland. The Rams (6-8, 12-8) rallied in the eighth when a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt allowed one run to score. Hunter Beaumont added an RBI single to finish the scoring.
“Considering how the season has gone, I was really happy the boys played to the end, and that’s very encouraging for next year,” Mohawk coach Kevin Sapp said. “It’s been a long season for all us, but I really think we got better. The second half of section play, we really felt like we were hanging around in games longer. We were within striking distance and teams were just pulling away late. That’s probably our youth showing a little bit.”
Rader, Chris Barber and Frank Shaffer paced the Warriors’ offense with two hits each. Rader drove in two, while Barber scored a run. Shaffer provided an RBI.
New Castle 4
Ambridge scored a total of seven runs in the fifth and sixth innings in a Section 1-AAA home win over New Castle.
The Bridgers (3-11, 6-14) led 5-1 after two innings, but the Red Hurricane (5-9, 8-11) closed to 5-4 after three.
“We came back, but they had nine hits in the last two innings,” New Castle coach Paul Malley Jr. said. “They were driving the ball and they were hitting it well.”
Justin Fleo, Ethan Pagley and Sean Coyne recorded two hits each for the ’Canes.
Coyne (2-4) took the loss. He started and tossed 5 2/3 innings, giving up 14 hits and 12 runs — 10 earned — with a walk and six strikeouts.
Wilmington’s Travis Brumbaugh fired seven strong innings in a District 10, nonregion win over Jamestown.
Brumbaugh scattered five hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts.
James Foltz had three hits, including a home run and three RBIs. Drew Nichols notched three hits as well.
Davis Smith delivered two hits, including a homer and four RBIs.
“I was very pleased with how our kids played today,” Greyhounds coach Garett Malinak said. “They were aggressive the entire game.”
Michelle Watson pitched seven solid innings and Jenna Petrucci smacked two triples to lead Shenango in a nonsection road matchup against Mohawk.
Watson allowed two runs — one earned — on five hits and three walks while striking out two. Petrucci went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
“She had a great day at the plate,” Shenango coach Amy Delaney said. “We had a lot of people on base and when that happens you hope to get that clutch hit. That was definitely what happened today.”
The Lady Wildcats (12-6) started their rally by scoring two in the second inning. They added three runs in the third and the fourth innings. Several players provided contributions for Shenango. Kim Burdett was 1 for 1 with three walks, two runs and two RBIs, and Jen Jopek was 1 for 2 with a run, an RBI and two walks.
“The bats were definitely alive today,” Delaney said. “We were putting the ball in play quite a bit. We really went up there attacking the strike zone, and we’ve been hitting the ball well lately, so it was nice to continue the pace that we’ve been on.”
Rachelle Miller was 2 for 2 for Mohawk (12-7).
Union’s Jamie Romine broke a scoreless deadlock with an infield single in the sixth inning in a nonsection home win over Cornell.
Allison Bertolino and Katelyn Kosciuszko added RBI singles later in the inning for the Lady Scots (9-9).
Krista Zorens (8-9) earned the win. Zorens went the distance, allowing three hits, striking out 12 and walking two.
“It was a good senior night,” Union coach Gary Trimble said. “Krista pitched a great game; she’s been pitching really great lately.
“We didn’t hit the ball great. But we did enough to win the game. It was a good way to enjoy the senior night.”
One of the better seasons in Neshannock history came to an end yesterday.
The Lancers lost to Thomas Jefferson, 3-2, in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA team playoffs at Brady’s Run. It was Neshannock’s first loss of the season as it finished 12-1.
“This is one of the best teams, record wise, that I’ve had in the last 10 years,” Lancers coach Chuck Dess said. “What makes it more special is basically four of my starters just started playing last year. If I don’t have those four guys, I don’t know if we reach this point. They’ve improved by leaps and bounds.”
Neshannock narrowly fell to the Jaguars. Back-and-forth battles by No. 2 singles player Jono Acosta and No. 1 doubles players Mark Bleggi and Ethan McCarthy went the way of Thomas Jefferson. Acosta lost, 7-5, 6-3, and Bleggi and McCarthy fell, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3.
“We could’ve won,” Dess said. “It just came down to a few points here and there. I think we were ready to play. If we played tomorrow, we may beat them 4-1, but it came down to a few points, and they got ’em.
“We really competed hard. The kids showed a lot of class. It’s a really special group of kids that I had.”
Following are the results:
Thomas Jefferson 3, Neshannock 2
1. Keegan Shudy (TJ). def. Eric Salle, 6-0, 6-1.
2. Jake Mascaro (TJ) def. Jono Acosta, 7-5, 6-3.
3. Max Watters (N) def. Brendan Ward, 6-2, 6-1.
1. Rit Gupta/Sam Gupta def. Mark Bleggi/Ethan McCarthy, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3.
2. Anthony Martone/James Jolley (N) def. John Ha/Jack Rodeheaver, 6-4, 6-3.
NEW CASTLE —
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