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Kittanning baseball team shut out by Knoch

Matt Grubba | Leader Times - Kittanning right fielder Max Mechling makes a running catch of a hard line drive by Knoch's Taylor Sharer in the third inning of the Wildcats' 5-0 loss on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at Kittanning Community Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Matt Grubba  |  Leader Times</em></div>Kittanning right fielder Max Mechling makes a running catch of a hard line drive by Knoch's Taylor Sharer in the third inning of the Wildcats' 5-0 loss on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at Kittanning Community Park.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times - Kittanning second baseman Jordan Lattanzi scoops up a ground ball in his team's 5-0 loss to Knoch in a Section 5-AAA game on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at Kittanning Community Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Matt Grubba  |  Leader Times</em></div>Kittanning second baseman Jordan Lattanzi scoops up a ground ball in his team's 5-0 loss to Knoch in a Section 5-AAA game on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at Kittanning Community Park.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times - Kittanning's Max Mechling sends a pitch back up the middle in the Wildcats' Section 5-AAA game against Knoch on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at Kittanning Community Park. Knoch won the game, 5-0.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Matt Grubba  |  Leader Times</em></div>Kittanning's Max Mechling sends a pitch back up the middle in the Wildcats' Section 5-AAA game against Knoch on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at Kittanning Community Park. Knoch won the game, 5-0.

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Kittanning's players and coaches know their team is hitting the ball better. The Wildcats just need more of their good swings to end up on the field instead of in gloves.

Bad luck and good defense by Knoch led to Kittanning being shut out for the fourth time this season in a 5-0 loss in a Section 5-AAA game at Kittanning Community Park.

Though the Wildcats (1-7, 0-4) finished with only four hits, the team's offense was stifled by two double plays turned by Knoch (4-4, 3-1) and a handful of line drives that went straight to Knights' fielders.

“Those are what we call at 'em balls,” Kittanning coach John Davis said. “We hit the ball well, but we hit it right at 'em.

“The kids are gaining in confidence. Our hitting has been getting stronger the last couple of games, but today we just couldn't get any to fall in.”

Knoch got the offense it needed from Andy Fritz and Caleb Thorn. Fritz drove in the first run of the game in the first inning and later had an RBI double. Thorn had two RBI doubles into the left-field gap for the Knights.

But while the Knights were able to roll balls to the outfield fence, Kittanning's best contact ended up in the center fielder's glove.

“We're definitely starting to make more contact. Now that we're starting to hit the ball more, we need to start hitting gaps and scoring runs,” Kittanning senior shortstop Mitch Pirhalla said.

Wins could come with more offense; the Wildcats were solid in the other aspects of the game.

Christian Miller allowed three runs in four innings in relief, and Jordan Lattanzi relieved him with two scoreless innings. Kittanning had two errors, but neither led to a run being scored.

“I feel like our defense isn't too bad, and our pitching isn't bad, either,” Pirhalla said. “We have a solid team, but our offense is still struggling.”

Though they remain winless in section play, the Wildcats are only three games out of a playoff spot in their six-team section. Though there is time for a push toward the postseason, Kittanning will need its offense to start clicking to make a move.

“Our goal is still to make the playoffs, for sure. We just have to go one step at a time and focus on the little things at the plate,” Pirhalla said.

“There's still six (section games) left, but we've got to get that first win,” Davis said. “This was only our second home game all year, so we get a lot of those teams here in the second half. We know how we need to play to compete with these teams, and it starts (Thursday) when we play Valley.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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