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Burrell tops Sto-Rox in 10 innings

The Burrell Bucs kept squandering scoring opportunities yesterday afternoon in the WPIAL Class AA semifinals against Sto-Rox.

But Burrell finally pushed across a pair of runs in the top of the 10th inning to defeat the Vikings, 3-1, at Shaler's Hilltop Field.

Junior Casey Moses struck out 13 and yielded just three hits to give the Bucs (17-2) a berth in the WPIAL finals next Thursday against arch-rival Valley (20-0) at California (Pa) University's Lilly Field at a time to be determined.

Burrell will be seeking its second WPIAL softball title. The last came in 2000.

Ten-time WPIAL champion Sto-Rox (14-5) also qualified for the PIAA tournament, which starts June 7. The Vikings played virtually half of the game without their head coach, Bill Palermo, who was ejected in the fifth inning after holding a mound conference without being granted a time out.

Burrell had 13 batters reach base but only one scored in the first nine innings of play.

Things were different, however, in the 10th as the international tiebreaker rule was deployed.

Claire Fisher, who made the last out of the ninth, was placed at second base to start the inning. Nina Spagnolo grounded to shortstop as Fisher took third.

After an errant throw that got past first base, Fisher raced home, beating the throw to give the Bucs their first lead of the game.

Kaitlyn Sweeney followed with her third single of the game to drive home Spagnolo with an insurance run.

"When we got our second run in the tiebreaker (inning), I thought the game would be ours," Burrell coach Mike Spagnolo said. "I wasn't worried about that runner at second in the tenth; I told the girls we were just going to be concerned about the tying run."

The drama wasn't over, though. Moses stumbled across first base on a comebacker to pitcher Talia Smarra. After one pitch in the bottom of the 10th, Moses came up lame, but resumed after about a five-minute delay.

"I had a cramp there, but I said we needed to get through this," Moses said. "We wanted this so badly, we weren't quitting."

With speedy Chelcie Washington on at second to start the inning, Moses recovered and struck out Alexa Golling. Danielle Priddy then popped up near the pitcher's circle, where Moses gave way to third baseman Jessica Damico.

Moses then struck out Sam Schmidt to end the lengthy contest played in the 87-degree heat. The Bucs left 11 baserunners stranded.

Smarra scored Sto-Rox's run in the bottom of the first. After reaching base on an error, Smarra took second on a passed ball and came home on Washington's double to left.

Burrell got on the scoreboard in the third when Jessica Damico singled, went to second on Fisher's bunt and scored on Sweeney's base hit.

After Smarra scored, Moses didn't allow another runner past second base.

Palermo, who has to sit out the first-round state playoff game June 7, said he tried to get the umpire's attention but the umpire was looking toward the Burrell rooting section after a play was completed.

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