West Mifflin outlasts Penn-Trafford in battle of walks
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In the scorebook, it goes down as a 13-9 West Mifflin win over Penn-Trafford.
Now, if you want to know any of the specifics involved in the first game at the Titans' multi-million-dollar all-turf baseball complex, don't bother asking veteran coach Jeff Kuzma because he's already erased those from his memory.
And for good reason.
A three-plus hour game with a combined 27 walks from nine pitchers on a 35-degree day with gusting winds would make anyone want to forget the details immediately.
“We basically won the battle of the cold-weather game, and that's the only way you can look at it and the only way I will look at it,” Kuzma said. “All we did was win a cold and sloppy game.”
Fresh off winning three of four games during a week in Florida, West Mifflin made uncharacteristic baserunning gaffes, fielding blunders and struggled hitting while pitchers A.J. Olasz and Joe Stavor combined to walk 10 batters.
Still, that was nothing compared to Penn-Trafford's 17 walks by seven pitchers. In the fourth, three Penn-Trafford pitchers walked seven consecutive batters with two outs to push across four runs.
“It was ugly,” Penn-Trafford coach Ron Evans said. “We have a dirt mound out there, we aren't allowed to wear spikes and all my kids have tennis shoes on. Every pitcher of ours was slipping, slipping, slipping.”
Stavor picked up the win for West Mifflin (4-1) by throwing the final 2 2⁄3 innings, allowing four hits and four runs while walking five. Olasz pitched a solid 4 1⁄3 before getting in trouble in the fifth. Olasz allowed four earned runs on four hits while striking out seven and walking five.
The Titans got two hits and two RBI from Zach Fodor and two RBI from Ryan Kandsberger and Jim Carassanesi.
Penn-Trafford (0-1) was paced by Jake Morain's two singles, triple and three runs scored and Luke Smeltz's double and two RBI.
“We hit the ball, made some good plays and did some good things, but at the same time we didn't pitch the way we wanted to, and you would have to think the weather also had something to do with that,” Evans said.
Evans used Ross Orgera, Zak Wright, Dom Coconcelli, Danny Owoc, Shane Malloy, Brenden Reddy and Tyler Smith.
“We wanted to use some pitchers, but I wasn't planning on using all seven of them,” Evans said.
Control issues changed that.
With Penn-Trafford leading, 3-2, in the fourth, West Mifflin put six runs on the board with only one hit. Seven consecutive two-out walks plated four runs, and Carassanesi followed with a two-run single to make it 8-3.
“When you get into a situation when the pitchers are throwing strikes, all you can tell your hitters is to be patient and work the count,” Kuzma said. “All it was today was waiting for a strike to be thrown and put a bat on it.”
P-T tied it up in the fifth with five runs on three hits. West Mifflin helped the cause with an error and a misplayed popup. The Warriors took the lead the next inning on a bases-loaded walk by Scott Koscho.
“We did some good things,” Evans said.
And some bad things — like in the bottom of the sixth when his pitchers yielded five walks, including the eventual game-winning free pass to Fodor with the bases loaded.
“We won the battle of the walks,” Kuzma said. “There's not much more you can say about it other than that. This won't affect us. I think we can get past this. It was just tough to be out there throwing in the cold.”
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