Penn-Trafford capitalizes on Connellsville mistakes
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Connellsville's hopes of qualifying for the WPIAL Class AAAA baseball playoffs were slim entering this week's action. The Falcons had to win out and hope for help from a number of teams in order to have a shot at the postseason.
Monday, those hopes officially ended as Connellsville committed several costly errors and turned a potential season-saving victory into a four-run defeat, losing to visiting Penn-Trafford, 6-2 in Section 2-AAAA.
“The score was 6-2 and it should have been 2-1,” Connellsville coach Rob Orndorff said. “We gave up five unearned runs. We've given up 12 unearned runs in the last two games, and when you give teams those opportunities, it makes it tough.”
Connellsville received solid starting pitching from Trevor Farrell, who worked into the sixth inning and didn't allow an earned run through the first five innings. He scattered nine hits and also recorded nine strikeouts.
“Trevor did a good job,” Orndorff said. “He kept them off-balance, but when you give a good team opportunities, they take advantage.”
The Falcons (6-6, 4-6) jumped to an early lead as Cameron Bernhardt doubled and scored on a single by Grant Wortman in the first inning.
The Warriors (10-4, 7-2) tied the game with an unearned run in the second as Shane Churma was caught off third base on a botched squeeze bunt attempt. However, the Falcons threw the ball away, allowing Churma to trot home.
Connellsville regained the lead in the fourth when J.T. Stevenson singled and scored on a double by Michael Parlak. But in the fifth, the Falcons gave the lead away as Churma and Mark Merlino each singled and scored on a Connellsville throwing error. Luke Smeltz followed with an RBI single to make it 4-2.
“You have to put the ball in play and make the defense field it,” Penn-Trafford coach Ron Evans said. “We got some breaks, and then we started hitting the ball. We were flat. We struggled, but a win is a win and we'll take it.”
Penn-Trafford starter Tyler Smith pitched into the fifth. He walked the bases loaded in the fifth, but wriggled off the hook as reliever Zak Wright got a fly ball to end the threat.
“Smith has been our go-to guy all year, and Zak did a great job of coming in and throwing strikes,” Evans said.
The Warriors got a bit more breathing room in the sixth when Ryan Marasti tripled in a run before scoring on another Connellsville error.
The Falcons got two runners on to start the seventh, but the Warriors turned a rally-killing double play to help seal the win.
“We made the plays,” Evans said.
The Falcons didn't.
“We didn't get the hit at the key time, but that's the way baseball is,” Orndorff said. “But it all comes back to defense and execution.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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