Shady Side Academy advances to PIAA playoffs on walk-off
Shady Side Academy has become accustomed to walk-off victories this season.
On Tuesday, the Indians' 7-6 victory meant sustaining their season.
Brian Hannon's sacrifice fly scored Jake Kleindl with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning of the WPIAL Class AA consolation game at Washington & Jefferson College's Ross Memorial Park.
Shady Side Academy (15-8) will enter the PIAA playoffs against the winner of Wednesday's Mount Union/Blairsville District 6 title game Monday at a site and time to be determined.
Deer Lakes, vying for its first PIAA baseball tournament berth in school history, concluded its season 17-5.
“This is a tough, gritty team we have and you can never give on these guys,” Indians acting coach John Cappa said. “This is our third or fourth walk off win this year.”
Shady Side coach Bob Grandizio and his wife were away to adopt a baby son,Deacon.
“I'm proud of the way our kids battled and you just have to take your hat off to Shady Side,” Lancers coach Jon Pedrosky said.
Deer Lakes was rolling along, leading 5-2 going into the bottom of the fifth.
“We're used to being down all year and fighting back,” winning pitcher and Lower Burrell resident Paul McCullough said. “They were hitting my fastball, so I was glad I used a curve toward the end.”
The Lancers scored two runs in the top of the first after Matt Olesnevich and Kevin Begley led off with singles.
Shady Side tied the score with single runs in the first and second.
In the third, singles by Zach Hudicek and Jimmy Feil, along with a sacrifice fly by Josh Plocki put the Lancers ahead, 5-2.
Starting pitcher Adam Fredley had retired eight straight Shady Side batters until Chuck Calabrese walked with one out in the fifth. With two outs, Chuckie Scales drew a walk and Chris Sawicki singled to drive in a run.
Northwestern University-bound McCullough then tripled to bring home two runs and tie the game, 5-5.
Kleindl singled to score McCullough to put the Indians in front, 6-5.
“Any time you put batters on with walks, hit batsmen, errors, it'll come back to bite you,” Pedrosky said. “They started to get the hits after we put them on.”
But the lead was short-lived as Olesnevich's single scored Feil in the top of the sixth to create a 6-6 stalemate.
Deer Lakes reliever Todd Coleman pitched out of a jam in the sixth.
Shady Side loaded the bases with a walk and bunt singles by Alex Hartz and Scales.
But Coleman struck out Sawicki on a 3-2 pitch and got McCullough to hit into a force play at third.
In the decisive seventh, Kleindl led off with a double and Evan Eisner followed with a single, but Cappa held up the catcher Kleindl at third.
George Guido is a freelance writer.