Hazaga, Serra defeat Bishop Canevin for third time this season
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When Chad Hazaga found out that Serra Catholic's quarterfinal playoff game against Bishop Canevin was at West Mifflin's nearly all-turf baseball complex, the first thing he did was go shopping.
With Titan Park not permitting metal cleats to be worn even on its dirt pitcher's mound, Hazaga made the trip to Dunham's for some suitable footwear.
Hazaga may have been forced out of his comfort zone with different shoes, but the results looked all too similar to Canevin.
Hazaga scattered six hits and surrendered one run over seven innings to beat the Crusaders for the third time in less than four weeks. Serra advanced to the Class A semifinals for the sixth time in seven years with a 10-1 victory.
No. 1 Serra (18-1) will play No. 5 Western Beaver (16-2), a 6-1 winner over Carmichaels, on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
“I really wasn't used to the mound and pitching with rubber cleats,” Hazaga said. “It was kind of hard to get used to them.”
Serra coach Brian Dzurenda had some words of advice for the senior right-hander about his shoe problem.
“I told him he had to adjust,” Dzurenda said.
Actually, Hazaga didn't have to do much adjusting when it came to his approach. The prior two outings against Canevin worked out just fine.
Hazaga beat the Crusaders on April 18 by allowing just four hits and one run while striking out eight. Two weeks later, Hazaga held Canevin (8-6) to two runs over seven innings. He didn't walk a batter in either game.
“They just can't seem to figure him out,” Dzurenda said. “When we were figuring out how we wanted our rotation to go at the start of the playoffs, that definitely played a factor in it.”
Serra's offense gave Hazaga plenty of support.
The Eagles scored five in the first and had six of their nine hits after two innings.
Brandon Coddington went 3 for 3 with a RBI, David Glumac added a triple, single and two RBI, and Wayne Hydak and Dylan Kugler knocked in a pair of runs each to make Canevin starter Cameron Kohan the loser.
Kohan lasted only 1 1⁄3 innings but didn't get much help from his defense.
“We just misplayed a couple of balls there that set the table up for them and a couple of fly balls that we needed to take better angles and help the pitcher out,” Canevin coach Dale Checketts said. “The pitcher didn't do anything wrong. We just didn't play defense behind him.”
Reliever Mitchell Tauffer relieved Kohan in the second and struck out six of the first seven batters he faced.
“They guy I wanted on the mound started the game,” Checketts said. “We liked what Kohan did for us this year, and we were looking for somebody to come in and throw strikes, and that's what he did.”
Parker Janosko led off the first with a single, and when Coddington beat out a sacrifice bunt and Hydak was walked with one out, Serra was in business with the bases loaded.
After Janosko scored on a passed ball, Hazaga singled in a run to make it 2-0. An error on shortstop Nico DiPaolo followed by a triple by Glumac gave Serra a 5-0 lead.
“We knocked the cover off the ball in the first inning,” Dzurenda said. “It was just a blue-collar performance from our kids. They just came to play.”
Canevin had chances in the second, third and fourth innings, but Hazaga was able to limit the Crusaders to a fourth-inning Zack Cortese RBI double.
“We just never got that big hit we needed,” Checketts said.
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