Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The Neshannock High baseball team took another step toward a WPIAL Section 5-AA championship yesterday.
And in the process, the Lancers dealt a crushing blow to Shenango’s playoff hopes.
Frank Fraschetti and Rich Serignese combined to pitch Neshannock to an 8-2 home section win over the Wildcats.
The Lancers (11-0 section, 15-0 overall) pace the league by 2 1/2 games over second-place Riverside (8-2, 9-3) with three section games to play. The teams are set to square off at 4 p.m. Friday on the Panthers’ home diamond.
Neshannock is ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class AA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“It was just important to get this game in; we didn’t want to be backed up,” Lancers coach Mike Kirkwood said. “The weather cooperated for us and that was huge. Throwing our two pitchers and getting the win was huge, too.”
Shenango (6-5, 7-8) is technically 1 1/2 games behind Beaver (6-4, 6-5) for the third and final postseason berth in the section. The Bobcats swept the season series from the Wildcats. Shenango must finish a game ahead of Beaver to qualify for the playoffs. If the teams finish tied, the Bobcats advance by virtue of the season sweep.
Neshannock scored a run in the first and three more in the second for a 4-0 lead.
“The three runs in the second inning was huge; it let us coast through it,” Kirkwood said.
The four-run cushion would last until the sixth when the Lancers put the game away with four runs for an 8-0 lead.
“It was nice to see at that time when we needed a few more runs, we were able to come through with the bats,” Kirkwood said.
The Wildcats, who stranded 13 runners on base, left the bases loaded twice without scoring. Each time the bags were full with less than two outs.
Shenango made three errors as well.
“I was disappointed in our effort, I thought we should have played better,” Wildcats coach Mike Othites said. “We’ve been up and down with the errors.
“With our backs to the wall, I thought we needed to give a better effort.”
The Wildcats pushed two runs across in the top of the seventh.
Paul Turco and Vince Turco notched two hits each for Shenango.
Ernie Burkes delivered three hits for the Lancers and Jake Swope supplied a pair.
Fraschetti (7-0) started and went four innings. He allowed five hits and no runs with four walks and two strikeouts.
Serignese relieved and shut the door to earn his third save. He tossed three innings, giving up three hits and two runs — one earned — with two walks and three strikeouts.
Neshannock left 10 runners on base.
“We talked about that after the game,” Kirkwood said of the volume of runners his team left on the bases. “I don’t think we’ve stranded many runners all year. We just want to make sure we’re still aggressive at the plate and swinging at good pitches.
“I thought in the sixth inning we were pretty patient.”
Cody Wolthers (0-1) took the loss. Wolthers started and tossed five-plus innings, surrendering six hits and six runs — four earned — with five walks and three strikeouts.