After rough start for Carlynton baseball, Cougars on the prowl for playoff spot
Things didn't look promising for the Carlynton baseball team at the beginning of the season as the Cougars were outscored 37-13 during an 0-4 stretch.
Fast forward a few weeks and the Cougars are in the hunt for their first playoff berth since 2011.
“We have just kept practicing and battling,” Carlynton coach Scott Wolfe said. “We had some tough games and some heart breakers in the first couple of games we probably should of win. We have been battling back from that.”
The Cougars have gone 4-1 since the rough spell, including an 11-1 victory over Freedom and a 6-5 battle with Avonworth last week.
“We know we can beat anyone we play,” senior Phil Meighan said. “We know if everyone does their job ever inning, we'll be good.”
The Cougars struck first against the Antelopes in the third inning as they took advantaged of Avonworth miscues. A Marc Holtz walk with the bases loaded gave Carlynton a 1-0 lead. A sacrifice fly by Justin Autry in the top of the fourth drove home Brad Wisinewski to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
Avonworth tied the score in the bottom of the fifth but Carlynton took it back in the sixth after Dan Schuster stole to give the Cougars a one-run lead it would not surrender the rest of the game, despite an Avonworth scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
It was redemption for Carlynton who had fallen to Avonworth, 5-3, on April 8.
“We knew we grew over the season and that was one of our first section games,” said Meighan, who scored a run in the win last week. “Errors killed us the first time. We knew we had to concentrate on playing every inning.”
Justin Autry got the win on the mound for the Cougars and recorded three strikeouts.
“He had a very good game for us,” Wolfe said.
Carlynton followed the win with the Antelopes with a 4-1 loss to New Brighton on Saturday. Chuck Zahn pitched a complete game and struck out 11 Cougars.
While the loss to the Lions was disappointing, it didn't ruin Carlynton's chance of reaching the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. In fact, the top six teams from Section 1-AA all remanded alive in the playoff hunt entering the week.
Quaker Valley and New Brighton entered the week on top of the standing with 9-0 and 8-2 section marks, respectively.
Seton-La Salle controlled the third-place spot with a 5-4 mark but was followed closely by 4-5 Carlynton and Freedom and 4-6 South Side Beaver.
The schedule is in the Cougars favor though as both the Rebels and Bulldogs still have both Quaker Valley and New Brighton on the schedule and the Rams must face the Quakers.
Four of Carlynton's final five games are against teams it has already beaten this season.
“We are just taking it one game at a time and keep climbing the standings,” Meighan said. “The teams ahead of us have a tougher schedule so that should help us.
“But if we keep winning, we shouldn't need any help.”
The Cougars return to the field tomorrow, Friday, when they host Seton-La Salle. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Crafton Athletic Field.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5813 or firstname.lastname@example.org.