Riverview baseball team rolls into quarterfinals
Riverview scored four runs in the fourth and fifth innings and rolled to a 9-4 victory over Rochester in the opening round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs Monday at Fox Chapel.
Junior Nick DiBucci, in his postseason debut, pitched the first four innings to earn the win, and junior Dom Conte pitched the final three to record the save.
The third-seeded Raiders (15-2) advance to the quarterfinals where they will face California on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined. The Trojans defeated Sewickley Academy on Monday.
Jason Anthony and Zach Aber drove in three runs apiece to pace Riverview.
“We had a couple good practices, and we came in here highly confident,” Raiders coach Rich Griser said. “We thought we had the preparation for this game, and other than a couple mistakes, it went well.”
The Raiders took a 1-0 lead in the second inning thanks to two Rams errors.
Riverview began to pull away in the fourth.
DiBucci helped himself with a single and took second on a balk. With Anthony Malky, who has a batting average higher than .600, at the plate, Rochester elected to walk the Akron recruit. Jake Paradise then hit a chopper off Rams pitcher Chaz Verrico's glove that caromed to the hole at short to load the bases. Anthony drew a walk to score DiBucci, and Aber drove in two more runs with a sharp single to left.
With one out, Anthony scored on a wild pitch to cap the rally.
The same four Riverview players — DiBucci, Malky, Paradise and Anthony — scored four runs in the fifth inning.
DiBucci gave up two unearned runs and scattered seven hits over four innings.
“It's definitely nerve-wracking; I'm not going to lie,” DiBucci said of his approach to the playoff game. “You get butterflies going on the bus, but you have to get focused just like any other game.”
DiBucci won't be eligible to pitch Wednesday, but Malky and Conte will be ready.
“We know to go a good ways in the playoffs, you can't do it with just one ace hurler,” Griser said. “You have to have players that can step up and pitch these games against playoff teams.”
The Rams (6-9) finally broke through against DiBucci in the fourth, scoring twice and sending eight batters to the plate.
The inning ended when Raiders first baseman Sam Gonsowski reached over the fence and into the protective netting to make a catch in foul territory, retiring Verrico.
While Riverview didn't get an extra-base hit, eight of the nine Raiders reached base.
“When you can get it all balanced like that, we don't have anybody running away with stats,” Griser said. “We have a lot of solid hitters throughout the lineup.”
It was Riverview's first Class A playoff victory since 2002 when the Raiders defeated Bishop Canevin, 6-5, in an opening-round game. Since then, Riverview has been a Class AA school and competed well, including a victory over then-No. 1 seed South Fayette in 2010.
“We know to take everybody seriously in the playoffs,” Griser said. “We thought we would be OK if we had to play in that Class AA conference this year.”
Brandon Hopkins was the offensive star for Rochester with a double and two singles, and O'Shea Anderson had three singles.
George Guido is a freelance writer.