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Franklin Regional baseball rally falls short vs. Bethel Park

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:27 a.m.

The Franklin Regional baseball team tried to rally from a five-run deficit, but its comeback attempt fell short in a 6-3 loss to Bethel Park in the opening round of the WPIAL playoffs Monday at Gateway High School.

The Panthers ended the season with a 16-4 record, including an 8-2 mark in Section 3-AAAA.

Monday's loss marked Franklin Regional's second straight first-round exit from the WPIAL playoffs. The Panthers lost to Hempfield, 10-8, in the first round last season.

“Obviously you want to end the season with a win, but there's only one team that gets to do that,” Franklin Regional coach Bobby Saddler said. “That's the team that wins the state championship. Unfortunately that's not going to be us this year, but we're going to work hard in the offseason, continue to do what we've been doing and try to get better each year.”

Franklin Regional grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Bethel Park, but the Black Hawks responded by scoring the next six runs to take a 6-1 lead through four innings. Franklin Regional scored two runs to tighten its deficit in the fifth inning but couldn't add any more.

Bethel Park pitcher Corey Augenstein held Franklin Regional to three runs on four hits. The Panthers entered the game averaging more than nine runs per contest.

“He just did a nice job of throwing strikes, getting ahead (and) changing speeds,” Saddler said. “He pitched a good game.”

Senior Nick DiDiano took the loss for Franklin Regional, and Danny McGrath and Brandon Nania doubled offensively.

DiDiano and McGrath will graduate from this season's team, as will Nick Vento and Connor Fitzmaurice.

“It's going to be tough not having them on the field with us next year,” Saddler said. “That being said, kids graduate each year and we're going to have to find some people who are going to step up. We have a strong junior and senior class. They work extremely hard, and we'll see what happens.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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