Penn-Trafford baseball falls to Central Catholic in playoffs
The line drive looked good coming off Scott Koscho's bat.
Sounded good, too.
Unfortunately for the Penn-Trafford baseball team, however, it went right to the waiting glove of Central Catholic centerfielder Matt Stoessel, and what could have been a game-tying extra-base hit turned into a routine sacrifice fly in the seventh inning of a WPIAL playoff opener Monday at CCAC-Boyce.
The play turned out to be the difference in the Warriors' 4-3 loss to the Vikings.
“I saw it, and I said, ‘My god, that's going right to him,'” Penn-Trafford coach Ron Evans said. “We hit that gap either side, and (it's a tie game). But what are you going to do?”
More than just a rally-killer, Koscho's liner represented the overall offensive frustration the Warriors felt Monday.
Penn-Trafford kept making contact against Central Catholic starter Grant Gustic, recording just three strikeouts in the first six innings of the game. But more often than not, the Penn-Trafford hits didn't find any holes. The team finished with just six hits.
“Everything we hit, we hit right at them,” Evans said. “We hit some shots right at them. Their centerfielder made three great plays that I don't know if too many centerfielders in the league would have made.”
Penn-Trafford (13-7) fell behind Central Catholic, 1-0, in the first inning. Senior pitcher Ross Orgera struggled with his command, walking a batter and hitting another before a run-scoring single by Sabatino DiNardo gave the Vikings the lead.
After Shane Mallon was thrown out at home plate attempting to tie the score in the top of the second, Central Catholic widened its lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the inning. A two-out single by Alex Barretta plated two runs.
Penn-Trafford tightened its deficit to 3-1 in the third when Luke Smeltz singled, stole second and eventually scored on Shane Churma's sacrifice fly. Central Catholic got the run back in the fourth to widen its lead to three runs again.
Both Orgera and Gustic clamped down after that.
“He was high with his pitches, and his back was tight when he started today,” Evans said of Orgera, who allowed four runs on six hits and struck out five in six innings.
“I think once he loosened up, he got a little better. Ross did a great job, holding that team to four runs.”
The Warriors mounted their comeback attempt in the top of the seventh. Josh Brammell led off with a double, moved to third when Tyler Smith reached on an error and scored on a single by Mallon.
Central Catholic brought Garrett Urbanic in to face Koscho. After the Penn-Trafford catcher's sacrifice fly, Smeltz flew out and Ryan Marasti struck out to end the game.
Despite the loss, Evans said he was proud of the way his young team fought until the end. The Warriors started just two seniors against Central Catholic, the Section 3-AAAA champion.
“Nobody gave these guys a chance to even be in this game today,” Evans said. “All you heard (about) was Pittsburgh Central. These kids gave them all they could handle. We're one hit away from taking the lead. These kids had a great year, and we're proud of everything they accomplished.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.