- High School
Raiders Hold Off Lebo Comeback to Win Third WPIAL Baseball Crown
Back to back was the story of the night as the Seneca Valley Raiders repeated as Quad-A baseball champions with a 5-3 win over Mount Lebanon on Wednesday night at Consol Energy Park. It's the third WPIAL championship for the Raiders. Matt Smith picked up his second straight championship victory. He allowed seven hits and struck out ten. Carson Kessler went 2 for 3 for the Raiders, he drove in a pair of runs.
Mount Lebanon had a golden opportunity to take the lead before the defending champs came to bat, Luke Hagy led off with a single, Ian Happ walked with one out, then the pair pulled off a double steal to put both in scoring position. But Sam Fragale put a stop to that with a leaping catch of a Pat Goff liner to second and Matt Smith struck out Chris Girvin to end the inning.
Seneca Valley scored an unearned run in the second when shortstop Happ dropped a fly ball in shallow left field after making contact with left fielder Girvin, allowing Jason Martin to reach second, he was singled home by Caron Kessler.
The Raiders scored an additional run in the fifth, Connor Coward singled with one out, Zach Creedon was hit by a pitch, Jon Dorogy grounded out to the right side, moving the runners up to second and third. Head Coach Pat McCloskey went to the hill and removed starting pitcher Mike Duffy for Zach Bahm. With Brad Gresock at the plate, Bahm uncorked a 2-1 pitch to the backstop, allowing Coward to score.
Smith was breezing into the fifth, retiring six straight batters, the final four by strikeout. He ran into trouble in the top of the sixth. Happ singled, after Goff struck out, Girvin doubled just inside the right field line, bringing Happ around. The Georgetown recruit got tough again, getting Brad Bekampis to ground out to third and fanned Bahm for his tenth strikeout of the game.
It all went bad for the Blue Devils in the bottom of the sixth. Fragale singled to lead off the inning, McCloskey brought in Happ to pitch, he tossed a wild pitch, then walked Austin Bream. With one out, Martin singled home Fragale, Kessler followed with a run scoring single of his own to make 4-1. Happ thought he was out of the inning as Creedon grounded to third with runners on the corners. Instead of going across the infield, the throw went to second, Connor Coward beat the play, the ball got away, allowing Kessler to score.
Mount Lebanon did not go quiet in the top of the seventh. Jack Faett led off with a single, Cory Wuenschell tripled to left center to make it 5-2. Luke Hagy came to the plate and drove a fly ball deep down the left field line, Coward made the catch in foul territory and crashed into the outside wall of the visitor's clubhouse, that allowed Wuenschell to score.
The Blue Devils still weren't done, back to back walks drawn by Anthony Paladino and Happ, brought the winning run to the plate with Goff. Coach Eric Semega said he had Zach Detillio warming down the left field line, but he decided to stay with Smith and it turned out well. The Raiders turned in another defensive gem, Goff hit a hard grounder up the middle, but thanks to good Creedon fielded the ball, step on second base and avoid the slide of Happ, then threw to first, where Bream made a great scoop off the turf to complete the double play and end the game.
Smith gave kudos to his defense with the running catch by Coward and the double play to end things. Smith said his curveball was not working late, but he wasn't giving up the ball.
Seneca Valley is now 18-4 overall, the Raiders will play Altoona in the first round of the PIAA playoffs on Monday. Semega said playing in Section 1 and the tough competition has set up the Raiders for this back to back run.
Mount Lebanon got two hits from Hagy, Duffy took the loss, he allowed two runs on three hits. Bahm pitched a third of an inning, Happ allowed three runs on three hits in an inning.
Mount Lebanon Blue Devils : 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 1 - 2 = 3-7-1
Seneca Valley Raiders : 0 - 1 - 0 - 0 - 1 - 3 x = 5-6-0