Hazaga pitches Serra baseball to victory
The way Serra Catholic baseball coach Brian Dzurenda determines whether a home game will be played is based solely on the infield conditions at Boston Field.
Weather conditions never factor in, and that was quite evident during Friday's season opener against visiting Saltsburg.
It didn't really concern Dzurenda that temperatures were hovering around freezing with a persistent breeze off the nearby Youghiogheny River making it feel much colder.
“Somebody asked me what the cutoff temperature is if we are going to play or not and I said, ‘Frankly, there is none. We play,' ” Dzurenda said.
And, in this instance, played well.
Serra jumped on Saltsburg ace Ian Satler for four runs in the bottom of the first and expanded its lead to 9-0 by the fourth before completing a 10-2 nonsection win.
It was Serra's seventh consecutive season-opening victory.
“This was a good start,” Dzurenda said. “That is a pretty talented team that we played. We have prepared pretty hard for the past three weeks, and these kids were itching to get outside and play. Who cares if it was 30 degrees? We were going to come out and compete.”
Serra banged out eight hits led by Wayne Hydak's three singles and four RBI and Dylan Kugler's single, triple and three RBI. But it was the pitching of senior Chad Hazaga that was the difference.
Hazaga picked up the win as he threw five innings, allowing three singles while striking out six and walking one on only 50 pitches.
“It was very impressive performance from Chad,” Dzurenda said. “He threw strikes and did exactly what he wanted to do. I don't know how he could feel the ball. I really don't. It was tough conditions for a pitcher.”
Brandon Coddington came on in relief and gave up Mitchel Yard's two-run homer in the sixth. Other than that, the Trojans were held in check.
“This was the first time we got outside,” Saltsburg coach Glenn Richards said. “It was a real game because it is an official date, but we approached it as a scrimmage. We didn't keep our pitcher in, and that could make a difference.”
When Saltsburg's ace was in there for the first inning, Serra hammered him.
Kugler singled in Hazaga and Coddington, who both walked, in the first to make it 2-0. Hydak and Parker Janosko followed with RBI singles to give Serra a quick 4-0 lead.
Serra added two more the following inning when Hydak laced a two-run single off of reliever Steve Richards to give Serra a 6-0 lead.
That was more than enough for Hazaga, who never let a player reach seconds base during his five innings.
“Their pitcher was tough, and you can tell they have a nice little team over there,” Richards said. “We looked at it as an opportunity to get on the field, and we wanted the experience.”
Saltsburg got a little more experience than he would've liked to see.
Serra was primed for its seventh consecutive season-opening 10-run rule victory in the fifth when the Eagles loaded the bases with nobody out and up 9-0.
But a fielder's choice followed by a double play kept the game going.
“I just told them that I wasn't happy with the way we finished,” Dzurenda said. “When you have a chance to put teams away with bases loaded and no outs you have to do it. It was sloppy.”
It became sloppier when a routine third out of the sixth was botched by the Eagles that led to the two-run homer by Yard.
“That might not hurt now, but who knows down the line,” Dzurenda said. “We have to put teams away when we can.”
Serra got a double, single and RBI from Janosko while Coddington added a double and three runs. Dan Guzik had two RBI.
Serra resumes Saturday at noon against California at Boston Field.