Serra Catholic baseball pulls Girman in win over Carmichaels
Serra Catholic has won two WPIAL championships and a state title over the past three years, so winning a first-round playoff game over a team with a losing record isn't much of a rush anymore.
But setting your team up to have Alain Girman and his near-perfect career record throw every remaining pitch in the three playoffs games that may be left gets Brian Dzurenda's juices flowing.
Dzurenda took a monumental gamble by removing Girman in the fourth inning of Tuesday's first-round WPIAL Class A game against Carmichaels in order to preserve him for today's game against OLSH.
It was a gamble that set Serra up for its best chance at another title.
Wayne Hydak shut down Carmichaels over the final three innings, and Serra tacked on six more runs as the Eagles advanced to the quarterfinals for the sixth straight year with a six-inning, 11-1 win at Chartiers Valley.
It was Serra's 25th playoff victory since 2007.
“I was willing to take that gamble (of pulling Girman) at this point,” Dzurenda said. “I am not happy with winning just one playoff game. I am just not.”
Because Girman didn't throw three innings, PIAA rules allows him to pitch on consecutive days. It was something that Dzurenda was kicking around for a few days now.
“We talked about this before and I said that if we were plus-five in the third inning that he was coming out of the game,” Dzurenda said.
Girman eventually warmed to the idea, but that came well after Trevor Jaworski's two-out, two-strike, bases-clearing single in the top of the fourth made it 5-1 and prompted Dzurenda to make the move.
“It definitely wasn't my idea,” Girman said. “It was definitely a good move, but I was just skeptical about it. It worked out. It paid off.”
Girman threw only 34 pitches against Carmichaels, but he doesn't have a history of pitching well in back-to-back games.
Earlier in the year, Girman threw 45 pitches in relief against OLSH that resulted in his first career loss then came back the next day and got shelled by Chartiers-Houston.
However, Girman was nursing a sore hip flexor at the time.
“They just caught me at a bad time,” Girman said. “I wasn't really expecting to pitch that game, but (today) I am, and I think we are going to win it.”
Girman struck out five in three innings and allowed one hit and an unearned run. Hydak picked up the save as he struck out four and scattered three hits.
Dylan Kugler had two hits and an RBI, Brandon Coddington knocked in three runs and Girman had two RBI for the Eagles (13-5).
But it was Jaworski's clutch, bases-loaded single in the fourth — he fought off a Nick Clarke fastball to right center that scored all three runners — that allowed Dzurenda to preserve Girman for today.
“I wasn't trying to over-think anything,” Jaworski said. “I just saw the ball and hit it.”
Carmichaels did have a shot of energy in the bottom of the inning when Girman was lifted. Tommy Shoaf led the inning off with a single, but the rally was quickly tempered when Shoaf was picked off first.
“The first guy gets on then he gets picked off,” Carmichaels coach Scott VanSickle said. “That really didn't help.”
Serra batted around in the fourth and fifth innings, which resulted in eight of its 11 runs.
“The momentum built after we made a couple plays in the field and they kind of threw in the towel over there,” Dzurenda said.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org