Latrobe needed a big rally and extra innings to advance in the Westmoreland County American League Baseball (WCALB) playoffs.
The top-seeded Jethawks scored three times in the seventh, forcing extra innings, and then added a run in the top of the ninth to claim an 8-7 victory against Mount Pleasant during Game 2 of the best-of-three quarterfinal WCALB series on Tuesday at Mount Pleasant Area High School.
Top-seeded Latrobe swept the series against No. 8 Mount Pleasant and advanced to the WCALB semifinals, which begin on Friday at Legion-Keener Field. Latrobe defeated Mount Pleasant, 5-3, during Game 1 of their WCALB playoff series on Monday to grab an initial lead in the series before ending the best-of-three set on Tuesday.
Two other WCALB playoff series are still taking place, as No. 3 Bushy Run and No. 6 Young Township, along with No. 4 Hempfield East and No. 5 Yough both needed a deciding Game 3 tonight. Latrobe will face either Hempfield East, Yough or Young Township during Game 1 of the semifinals Friday at Legion-Keener Field.
Latrobe blasted Mount Pleasant during the regular season, outscoring the opposition, 21-7 in two games. But Mount Pleasant made it interesting in the playoffs, as Latrobe won by two runs in Game 1 and scored an extra-inning victory to close out the series, which was decided by three runs.
The Jethawks were in front early on Tuesday, taking a 2-0 lead through two innings and holding a 3-1 advantage after four. Mount Pleasant struck in the bottom of the fifth with a six-run inning to grab a 7-4 lead. But Latrobe forced extra innings with three runs in the top of the seventh. The Jethawks eventually won it with a run in the top of the ninth.
Latrobe entered the playoffs on a six-game losing streak — the last four games during a wooden bat baseball tournament this past weekend and two others previously in exhibition play versus Bedford — but the Jethawks continued their stellar play against WCALB competition.
Latrobe is now 18-13 overall this season, but the Jethawks grabbed the top spot in the WCALB playoffs with a 13-2 league record. Latrobe lost its first game against rival Derry, 3-2, on June 15, but rattled off the next 12 straight, staying perfect against WCALB opponents for more than a month. That catapulted Latrobe to the top of the standings, as the Jethawks carried separate five and seven-game win streaks throughout the season, while outscoring WCALB opponents by a 114-53 margin. Latrobe has 16 wins in 18 games played against WCALB opponents, including an early exhibition against Yough and the two most recent playoff games versus Mount Pleasant.
Ben Rafferty guided Latrobe on Tuesday with three hits, including two doubles. Clay Petrosky also contributed three hits, including a triple and three runs scored. Ben Anderson and Ethan Boring both singled twice and scored a run, while Jake Bradish also contributed two singles. Logan Gustafson also singled and scored two runs for Latrobe, which produced eight runs on 14 hits.
Rafferty was also the winning pitcher with three strikeouts and zero walks in three innings of relief. Cam Dominick earned the start and finished with three strikeouts and two walks in four-and-two-thirds innings.
Aaron Alakson led Mount Pleasant with a single and three RBI, while Jerry Kitz singled, scored and drove in two. Anthony Govern, Jared Wagner, Jared Yester, Joe Shrum and Kyle Jones all singled and scored for Mount Pleasant, which scored seven runs on eight hits.
Shrum was the losing pitcher with one strikeout and a walk in two-and-a-third innings. Hunter Tate worked five innings, ending with three strikeouts and six walks.
The Jethawks grabbed an early lead in Game 2 with runs in the first and second inning. With one out, Gustafson singled and advanced on a wild pitch. Bradish delivered a RBI single to give Latrobe a 1-0 lead. Boring singled in the second and Dominick sacrificed him to second before Petrosky’s RBI single made it a 2-0 game.
Tait led off the third for Mount Pleasant with a single, followed by a Govern base hit before an error moved Tait to third. Shrum later singled home a run, cutting Latrobe’s lead in half, 2-1.
The Jethawks opened a 3-1 lead with a run in the fourth. With one out, Petrosky and Gustafson both walked, and Anderson’s RBI single put Latrobe in front by two runs.
Mount Pleasant answered in a big way with six runs in the bottom of the fifth.
With two outs, Wagner and Yester singled and Shrum was hit by a pitch. Kitz delivered a two-run single to tie the game, 3-3. Jones drew a walk and O’Connor was hit by a pitch to load the bases, setting the table for Alakson, whose three-run single gave Mount Pleasant a 7-3 lead.
But Latrobe wasn’t finished.
The rally started with one run in the sixth, as Anderson reached on an error and Rafferty doubled him home.
The Jethawks completed the rally, forcing extra innings with three runs in the top of the seventh.
With one out, Ethan Grandgeorge reached on an error and Petrosky came through with a RBI triple. Gustafson drew a walk, stole second and later scored on Anderson’s sacrifice fly. Rafferty later singled home the tying run, 7-7, to force extra innings.
Latrobe won it in the top of the ninth.
Petrosky led off with a single and Gustafson advanced him to second with a bunt. Anderson drove home the winning run with a single, giving Latrobe an 8-7 victory and the quarterfinal series sweep.
Latrobe Mount Pleasant ab r h ab r h
Petrosky 5 3 3 Govern 5 1 1 Gustafson 3 2 1 Ja Wagner 5 1 1 Anderson 4 1 2 Kubinsky 1 0 0 Rafferty 6 0 3 Yester 2 1 1 King 0 0 0 Shrum 4 1 1 Bradish 5 0 2 Kitz 5 1 1 Amatucci 4 0 1 Jones 3 1 1 Short 4 0 0 Williams 0 0 0 Boring 5 1 2 King 1 0 0 Krinock 0 0 0 O’Connor 1 1 0 Dominick 2 0 0 Noah 1 0 0 Grandgeorge 2 1 0 Alakson 3 0 1 Tait 3 0 1 Jo Wagner 1 0 0
Totals 40 8 14 Totals 35 7 8Latrobe 110 101 301 — 8 14 2Mt. Pleasant 001 060 000 — 7 8 5 Doubles: Rafferty-2 (L) Triples: Petrosky (L) Strikeouts by: Dominick-3, Grandgeorge-1, Rafferty-3 (L); Tait-3, Jo Wagner-0, Shrum-1 (MP) Base on balls by: Dominick-2, Grandgeorge-0, Rafferty-0 (L); Tait-6, Jo Wagner-0, Shrum-1 (MP) Winning pitcher: Ben Rafferty Losing pitcher: Joe Shrum