West Mifflin baseball team tops Carrick
It was the type of game that usually would infuriate West Mifflin baseball coach Jeff Kuzma.
But instead of dwelling on the poor baserunning, lack of clutch hitting and misplayed fly balls that kept winless Carrick within striking distance deep into Wednesday's Section 4-AAA game, Kuzma instead called the Titans' 5-1 victory a “season-saving” game.
Actually, it was a season-saving performance by the unlikeliest of people — junior varsity pitcher Pat Schob.
After using three pitchers during Monday's 11-inning marathon win over Belle Vernon, coupled with having a key section game against Elizabeth Forward on Friday, Kuzma needed an innings-eater to take the mound.
Schob, who had pitched two varsity innings all season, came on in relief in the third inning, scattered four hits and allowed one run. More importantly, he kept the Titans' pitching staff intact for Friday's game against Elizabeth Forward.
“It was a huge performance out of him,” Kuzma said. “He is going to throw strikes, and you have to concentrate to make plays behind him. I told him to throw a lot of fastballs, and if they started to beat him around, then I'd make a move.
“Other than that, he was the guy who had to get it done.”
Schob walked only two, despite wet and windy conditions at West Mifflin's new baseball complex. He struck out one.
The win moved West Mifflin (9-5, 5-3) into second place in the section and a half-game ahead of Elizabeth Forward (10-4, 4-3), Thomas Jefferson (8-6, 4-3) and Belle Vernon (8-5, 4-3).
“We knew that this could be a so-called ‘trap' game against Carrick,” Kuzma said. “The way it started to play out, I was getting nervous. They were due for a win, and we wanted to make sure we did everything not to let it happen against us.”
West Mifflin put up just enough offense to pull out the victory.
The Titans had seven hits off Carrick starter Jordan Graziano, led by A.J. Olasz's RBI triple in the first and run-scoring single in the third. Zack Miller added two hits, while Ryan Kandsberger and Dan Howard chipped in with an RBI each.
Kuzma was hoping that Monday's 10-run, 15-hit attack against Belle Vernon would've sparked West Mifflin's dormant offense.
“I was hoping it would carry over,” Kuzma said. “We have struggled with the bats and continued to struggle. We still have a lot to figure out at the plate to be a great team. We are a good team, but to be a great team we have to figure out how to swing the bats a little better.”
West Mifflin jumped on Graziano in the first. Olasz's triple scored Zach Lapko, followed by Kandsberger's RBI single that made it 2-0.
After making it 3-0 in the third on Olasz's run-scoring single, Carrick (0-8, 0-8) got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth then cut its deficit to 3-1 when Brandon Jones doubled in a run.
West Mifflin tacked on a pair of runs in the sixth. Graziano walked four and uncorked a wild pitch to score another to make it 5-1.
“It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win,” Kuzma said. “We wanted to win at least two of three games this week, and now we have a chance to win all three because of the pitching we got today.”