South Parks comes from behind to top Somerset in PIAA first round
South Park didn't need extra innings to complete its latest comeback.
The Eagles erased deficits of 3-0 and 4-3 to defeat Somerset, 7-5, in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs Monday at Upper St. Clair's Boyce/Mayview Recreation Complex.
Just as they did in their title game victory against Hopewell last week, the WPIAL champion Eagles got off to a rocky start.
Starter Randy Dobnak was chased in the top of the first inning. Four straight Golden Eagles hits to open the game led coach Steve Bucci to call upon Jake Bywalski for relief. Bywalski escaped the frame by giving up just the third of the three runs charged to Dobnak.
The Eagles (25-0) answered with three runs of their own to tie the game in the bottom half, thanks to an RBI double from second baseman Carter Grote and a two-run triple by third baseman Shane Fetsko.
Bucci thought the early rally was “huge” for his team.
“(It's) perseverance; you're into survival mode,” Bucci said.
Somerset took the lead again in the third when Bywalski walked in a run, but South Park tied the game in the fourth and took a 5-4 lead in the fifth when Nick Yobbi scored Grote on an RBI groundout with the bases loaded.
Yobbi took over for Bywalski on the mound in the top of the fifth and allowed Somerset to tie the score at five in the sixth. But his run-scoring triple with two outs in the home half gave South Park the lead he needed to close out the Golden Eagles in the top of the seventh and send the Eagles to the quarterfinals.
Yobbi thinks the rallies in back-to-back games have given the Eagles confidence to come from behind when they need to — even if they're used to being ahead.
“It's a different feeling from the regular season since we never fell behind,” Yobbi said. “But now that we're starting to do it, we know that we have to come together as a team and finish what we have to do.”
South Park's win sets up a rematch with a Keystone Oaks team it nipped, 1-0, in the WPIAL semifinals. Bucci will have all three pitchers who saw action Monday available; none pitched the five innings that would put him on mandatory rest. The game will be Thursday at a site and time to be determined.
He said he's not sure which player will get the start, but Yobbi expects the team to respond regardless.
“We'll talk about it tomorrow at practice, set a game plan for that,” he said, “and then hopefully come out of there with a ‘W.' ”
Adam Bittner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.