MURRYSVILLE — Heading into the bottom of the fourth inning in Tuesday’s game against Franklin Regional, Greater Latrobe was in position to potentially secure its biggest victory of the season. The Wildcats led the undefeated Panthers 2-0, having plated a pair of runs in the top of the inning.
The host Panthers began to rally, however, and a game-altering call at home plate went against the Wildcats, igniting a seven-run breakout. Just an inning later, Franklin Regional enacted the mercy rule, with a 13-3 victory at Haymaker Park in Murrysville.
The crucial call came with the score tied at 2-2, as Franklin Regional’s Jack Bridges batted with one out and runners at second and third. Greater Latrobe had its infield playing in to cut down the go-ahead run at the plate, and pitcher Rayce King induced a ground ball to shortstop off the bat of Bridges.
The runner at third, Tim Quinn, darted home, but the throw from Owen Miele arrived to catcher Logan Short in plenty of time. Quinn eluded the tag by leaping over Short, as well as surpassing home plate by several feet. After a slight delay by Short, he went to apply the tag to Quinn, who veered away from the tag and seemingly well out of the field of play, and then went back to touch the plate. Quinn was initially called out, but the home plate umpire changed the ruling, calling Quinn safe and putting Franklin Regional ahead, 3-2.
With just one out instead of two, the next batter, Luke Treloar, delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2, and with renewed life, the Panthers followed with a RBI single, a walk, and a two-run double to extend their advantage to 7-2.
Greater Latrobe head coach Matt Basciano adamantly opposed the critical ruling to no avail, and he was still visibly upset after the game concluded.
“That’s a (darn) good team, and they don’t need extra outs and extra plays like that,” he said of the call that allowed the Panthers to capitalize.
In the top of the fifth, Greater Latrobe showed some mettle by trimming a run off its deficit. Short led off with a single, Chase Sickenberger hit into a fielder’s choice, Vinny Amatucci delivered a single to left, and Tucker Knupp reached on an error that allowed Sickenberger to score.
“That (fourth) inning changed everything, and I could not be more proud of these guys that they didn’t let that bother them and they came back and scored a run,” Basciano stated.
The Wildcats nearly had a much bigger inning, but Clay Petrosky’s sharply-hit ball towards first was snagged on a line by Quinn, who then threw to second to double up Knupp.
With Rayce out of the contest in the bottom of the fifth, Greater Latrobe’s reliever Tommy Ciesielski failed to limit the Panthers, who broke out for six more runs on two walks and five hits, capped by a rocketed triple to center field by Kegerreis that plated the 12th and 13th runs for Franklin Regional, ending the contest.
The Panthers extended their winning streak to six games, and improved to 4-0 in Class 5A Section 1, sweeping both the Wildcats and Penn-Trafford. A night after a big 14-1 victory against the Wildcats, the Panthers showed their resolve in the fourth inning, according to head coach Bob Saddler.
“We felt that our backs were against the wall,” he said. “We knew we were down; we knew we had to answer, and the boys did a great job doing so.”
Meanwhile, Greater Latrobe dropped to 5-4, including 2-2 in the section.
The Wildcats showed significantly more offensive punch than on Monday, however, when they were limited to just two hits. In the rematch, Greater Latrobe compiled six hits, including three in the fourth inning, and also put pressure on the typically-stellar Panthers’ defense, which committed four errors.
Greater Latrobe broke the scoreless affair in the top of the third inning, as No. 9 hitter Alex Woodring drew leadoff walk, and after a flyout, Sickenberger reached on a shortstop error. Both runners advanced on a balk by Franklin Regional pitcher Luke Treloar, and Amatucci put the Wildcats in the lead on an RBI groundout.
In the next frame, Petrosky led off with a single to left-center, and he moved to second on a sacrifice by King. Drew Clair followed with a single to center, and then stole second, which led to a throwing error by Franklin Regional that plated Petrosky. Sophomore Erik Batista followed with a single, and with runners again at the corner, the Wildcats attempted the same tactic. However, the Panthers this time forced Batista back to first, and then threw across the diamond to eliminate Clair, who drifted too far off third base. Woodring then struck out, as the Wildcats only managed to increase their edge to 2-0 before the contest shifted in the bottom of the inning.
Although saddled with the loss, King worked masterfully through the first three innings, holding Franklin Regional hitless. In total, he surrendered seven runs on five hits, walking two but striking out six.
“Rayce pitched his butt off,” Basciano said of his senior hurler.
At the plate, Clair paced the Wildcats with a pair of hits.
Franklin Regional was led by Kegerreis, who went 3-4 with four RBIs and a run scored, while Quinn, Tom Nicely and Caden Smith each had two-hit efforts.
Greater Latrobe returns to the diamond 4 p.m. Friday at home against Norwin, and then will face Gateway in the section series next week.
Gr. Latrobe Franklin Regional ab r h ab r h
Short 2 0 1 Suvak 3 1 0 Krinock 0 0 0 Kegrreis 4 1 3 Sickenbrgr 3 1 0 Muraco 1 1 0 Amatucci 3 0 1 Quinn 3 2 2 Knupp 3 0 0 Nicely 3 0 2 Petrosky 3 1 1 Luke 0 2 0 King 1 0 0 Brncic 3 1 1 Ciesielski 0 0 0 Bridges 2 2 0 Clair 2 0 2 Treloar 1 1 0 Batista 2 0 1 Smith 3 2 2 Woodring 1 1 0 Miele 0 0 0
Totals 20 3 6 Totals 23 13 10Gr. Latrobe 001 110 0 — 3 6 1Fr. Regional 000 760 0 — 13 10 4 Doubles: Kegerreis (FR) Triples: Kegerreis (FR) Strikeouts by: King-6, Ciesielski-1 (GL); Treloar-2, (FR) Base on balls by: King-2, Ciesielski-2 (GL); Treloar-2 (FR) Winning pitcher: Luke Treloar Losing pitcher: Rayce King