ERIE — It was a game of heroes and heroics.
And for the New Castle High baseball team, another win by a final score of 1-0.
The Red Hurricane claimed its third 1-0 decision of the postseason, this time in the PIAA Class 4A opener against Warren (Pa.) at Ainsworth Field in Erie.
And like the other two games, victories over Greensburg Salem and Yough, plenty of dramatics were involved.
“It was indescribable,” first-year coach Bill Cook said. “We scored our run at the beginning of the game, but it took a huge play at the end to seal the win.
“We had a huge crowd there,” he added. “There was so much excitement at the end, it was just unbelievable.”
In the bottom of the seventh with New Castle clinging to a 1-0 lead and sophomore ace Rocco Bernadina on the mound, Warren cleanup hitter Aidan Morrison singled with no outs and went to second on a flyout. Bernadina struck out the third batter.
Then the drama started.
“We were error-free the entire game,” Cook said. “Then (Ryan) Arnold came up and hit a ball to our third baseman Bernie Fabian. It was the fourth ball hit to him in the game and the first three, he handled cleanly. It took a horrible bounce off the lip and he bobbled it. Knowing he’s not going to get the guy at first, he knew better than to throw it there, so he turns and looks to make sure the guy at second didn’t take too big a lead. He was too far off the base and Bernie threw a laser to Dante Micaletti, who applied a sweet tag.
“The celebration was just amazing,” he added. “Everyone went crazy. It was such a great win.”
Bernadina’s complete-game victory included four hits, 12 strikeouts, one walk and 90 pitches thrown. He is now 8-1. He will be ineligible to pitch in Thursday’s quarterfinal round.
The ‘Canes scored their run in the first inning. Nic Morell singled, advanced to second when the Warren catcher momentarily dropped the ball following a strikeout. Although it did not get away from him, Morell took off and made it.
New Castle had eight hits in the game. Morell, Micaletti and Logan Gibson had two apiece.
The ‘Canes loaded the bases in the sixth, but were unable to score.
“We had several opportunities to score, but didn’t capitalize,” Cook said of his team, which left nine runners on base. “But Rocco’s pitching was outstanding. In the past four games when he has pitched, he has 45 strikeouts. That is just phenomenal.”
New Castle (12-10) takes on Beaver in the PIAA quarterfinals Thursday at a time and site to be announced. The Bobcats are 15-7 and split with the ‘Canes twice during the Section 2-4A regular season. New Castle won the first game 5-4 and lost the second game 10-1.