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Seneca Valley returns to WPIAL baseball title game

| Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 7:28 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review Seneca Valley pitcher Matt Smith (21) greets Connor Coward after he scored during their WPIAL Class AAAA semifinal against Central Catholic Tuesday May 22, 2012 in Upper St. Clair. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

It might have taken an extra day, but the Seneca Valley baseball team will get a chance to defend its WPIAL Class AAAA title.

After Monday's semifinal against No. 7 seed Central Catholic was suspended and moved to Tuesday because of lightning in the bottom of the third inning, No. 3 Seneca Valley erupted for six runs in the top of the fifth yesterday and hung on for a 9-5 win at Boyce Mayview Park in Upper St. Clair.

Now, Seneca Valley will play ninth-seeded Mt. Lebanon (14-8) in the championship game at 8 p.m. May 30 at Consol Energy Park in Washington.

Designated hitter Zach Spangler and shortstop Zach Creedon had three hits apiece, and Matt Smith earned the win by pitching six innings over two days and striking out eight.

“Our offense gave us an opportunity to win,” Seneca Valley coach Eric Semega said.

Seneca Valley, which was 6-10 in 2010 before catching fire last spring, ended Central Catholic's season for a second consecutive year after a 7-1 win in the first round last spring.

Like many of the Raiders' newcomers, Creedon wasn't on the varsity squad last year, but that doesn't mean he's any less excited to be playing in the WPIAL championship game.

“There's going to be a lot of people there, but I'm not worried about that,” said Creedon, who finished with two RBI and a run. “I'm just worried about how we're going to play as a team.”

Seneca Valley (17-4) began the day with a 2-0 lead after scoring a pair of runs in the first inning Monday — one on an error, the other on Spangler's infield single. Central Catholic got one back in the bottom of the fourth when Dom Fazio led off with a triple and scored on Sabbatino DiNardo's groundout.

Then, the fifth-inning downpour.

Spangler and Carson Kessler singled, and Connor Coward walked to load the bases before Creedon's single through the left side scored Spangler. Kessler scored when Central Catholic left fielder M.P. Buckley couldn't pick up the ball.

Brad Gresock's swinging bunt brought home Coward, and Sam Fragale rocked a double to left-center that scored Creedon and Gresock. After Matt Stoessel relieved Dan Smith and issued a pair of walks, Jason Martin singled through the right side for an 8-1 lead.

“It just opened up,” Central Catholic coach Frank LaCava said. “They found some holes, and a few plays didn't go our way.”

Fazio made it 8-2 with an infield single in the bottom half, but Creedon singled and Coward came across on a throwing error.

The Vikings (17-5-1) made things interesting with three runs in the seventh, with Cameron Belago, Buckley and DiNardo driving in runs. Just too little, too late.

“We know how hard it is to get to where we're going next week,” Semega said. “We don't take anything for granted. To have that opportunity is great.”

Jason Mackey is a freelance writer.

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