1 pitch costs West Mifflin baseball team in section defeat
With two of the WPIAL's best pitchers on the mound — South Park's Nick Yobbi and West Mifflin's A.J. Olasz — one mistake could determine the outcome.
Olasz's 1-1 pitch in the fourth inning to Randy Dobnak might not have been a mistake, but Dobnak sure made it look like one.
Dobnak's titanic, two-run homer traveled well over 400 feet and barely missed the light standard high above Evans Field, and it proved to be enough to keep South Park undefeated Wednesday with a 4-2 win over West Mifflin in Section 4-AAA.
“That what you call a Jose Canseco shot there,” South Park coach Steve Bucci said. “Dobnak has been struggling, but you can tell he is starting to find his way.”
Dobnak homered, doubled and knocked in two runs, and Carter Grote added a double and a single, but that was about all the heavy-hitting Eagles could do against Olasz.
South Park (18-0, 11-0) came into the game averaging a little more than 10 runs per game, but Olasz limited them to four hits and four runs over five innings.
“We just played the No. 1 team in the WPIAL and lost because of one mistake pitch,” West Mifflin coach Jeff Kuzma said. “A.J. Olasz pitched his butt off. We just took the best team in the WPIAL to the last inning, and not a lot of teams have done that.”
Olasz struck out eight, walked three and hit three others.
As good as Olasz was, Yobbi was better. He struck out eight in 5 2⁄3 innings and allowing three hits — an RBI double by Jim Carassanesi in the second, an Olasz double in the fourth and a sixth-inning RBI single by Ryan Kandsberger.
Jake Bywalski got out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth and struck out the side in the seventh to earn the save.
“I think a game like this is good for everybody,” Bucci said. “It's good for them, it's good for us. They just went toe-to-toe with the best team in the section. They had nothing to lose.”
West Mifflin (9-7, 5-5) took a 1-0 lead in the second on Carassanesi's opposite-field double that scored pinch runner Jake Liposky.
South Park answered in the third. The Eagles forced across a run on Greg Pantuso's perfectly executed suicide squeeze that scored Adam Thompson, who led off the inning with a single.
“We needed something like that at that point,” Bucci said. “It's a game where A.J. is pitching well, and I felt we needed to tie the game up and get a run on the board just to make our offense feel like we were in it. The more we don't score is the more we press.”
South Park took the lead in the fourth on Dobnak's home run. Kuzma called for an outside fastball, but Olasz missed inside and Dobnak made him pay.
“It was a fastball that just caught the inside part of the plate, and he turned on it,” Kuzma said.
South Park added another in the fifth on Justin Dilla's sacrifice fly to make it 4-1. West Mifflin's Kandsberger's single in the sixth chased Yobbi. Bywalski walked Zack Miller to load the bases, but got Joe Stavor to ground out to end the threat.
“It was a microcosm of our season right there,” Kuzma said. “It comes down to guys stepping up at the right time and putting it together consistently one through nine. Hats off to Yobbi, hats off to A.J., but one miss — or if you want to call it, one good swing — was the difference in this game.”
West Mifflin must win its final two games — against Ringgold and Thomas Jefferson — to qualify for the postseason.
“I said before the season that this team is a playoff team, so they have to prove it by beating Ringgold and Thomas Jefferson,” Kuzma said.