California advances with 8-0 win
After the California Trojans dropped a tough 2-1 decision to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the semifinals of the WPIAL Class A baseball playoffs, Cal coach Don Hartman wondered if his team would recover and have the same fire to try and make a run in the PIAA playoffs.
Well, Hartman has his answer.
After the Trojans dropped top-seeded Serra, 10-7, in the Class A consolation game to get into the state playoffs, Cal won its first round game Monday over District 9 champion Elk County Catholic, 8-0, at Brookville.
Now California will get a rematch with OLSH in the PIAA quarterfinals Thursday as the Chargers (20-3) knocked off District 10 champ Cochranton, 1-0, in Erie. The site of the rematch was not available by press time.
“I'm so proud of my kids, just as proud as any coach can be,” Hartman said. “You know, they really brushed off the loss to OLSH and came out with a great attitude and are just playing baseball and having fun with no pressure.
“And I'm just along for the ride.”
Against ECC, the Trojans banged out 15 hits with Josh Luko leading the way with a single, double and triple and Michael Luketich adding two triples. Joe DeFranco added three singles.
“We hit the ball today as well as any team I have ever coached,” said Hartman. “We started out struggling against their kid (Brandon Schlimm), who threw the ball really hard. But we made some adjustments and then started hitting the ball where it was pitched and we just did an amazing job of hitting the ball where it was pitched.”
Cal got on the board in the third inning when Brian Fisher led off with a single and later scored on a groundout by Jake Columbus.
The Trojans broke the game open with four runs in the fifth as Luko doubled in a run and then Luketich followed with a screaming two-run triple to right center. Columbus then brought Luketich home with a squeeze bunt to make it 5-0.
Cal salted the game away in the top of the seventh with three runs as Luketich stroked an RBI triple and scored on Columbus' fly out. Swartz then singled home the final run.
Also getting multiple hits for the Trojans were Swartz, Aaron Previsky and Fisher with two singles each.
Fisher, meanwhile, was solid in throwing a six-hit shutout. He struck out one batter and didn't issue any walks.
“Brian Fisher just did a fabulous job of hitting his spots,” Hartman said. “He relied on his defense and our defense just turned in a gem behind him making all the plays.”Looking ahead to OLSH, Hartman said he expects a different game this time around because neither team will throw its ace pitchers like in the first meeting.
“We will go with Luko and I'm sure they will pitch (Tim) Mulvey,” Hartman. “I'm excited about the journey continuing and I'm sure my kids are, too.
“It's a great feeling for us and our fans, who really gave us great support driving almost three hours (to Brookville). It's just a fun, fun ride right now.”