Allderdice blanks sloppy Serra Catholic in baseball opener

| Thursday, March 27, 2014, 9:27 p.m.

Knowing Brian Dzurenda's passion for baseball, you can imagine how difficult it was for the Serra Catholic coach to have the season-opener postponed three times in a span of six days.

Dzurenda wasn't about to add a fourth to the list, but in hindsight, it might not have been that bad of an idea.

East Allegheny was forced to postpone Thursday's game with Serra because a water main break canceling school that sent Dzurenda scrambling for a replacement.

And early morning email to all the WPIAL schools resulted in a quick response from an unlikely, but welcomed opponent – Quad-A Allderdice.

The Dragons turned out to be not-so-gracious visitors.

Allderdice took advantage of four errors that led to five unearned runs as Serra squandered freshman Cole McCombs' debut with a 6-0 win at Boston Field.

It was Serra's first home opener loss in Dzurenda's 15 years as head coach and first season-opening loss for the Eagles (0-1) since 2006.

“The mentality here is that we always expect to win,” Dzurenda said. “I think they are a little more disappointed than they should be, but I want them to take it hard. I want them to be sore losers. I like that.”

The loss also snapped a streak of 23 consecutive games that Serra hadn't been shut out.

“I am not completely disappointed in how we played,” Dzurenda said. “We played a good team and came out on the wrong end.”

It was a game the Allderdice players didn't even know about until an 8:59 a.m. group text message from coach Jeremy Askin to his players that said: “Big change in plans.”

“The kids had no idea until this morning, and we have brand new uniforms and I had them all, so that's how that happened,” Askin said. “That's how we were able to prepare.”

Right-hander Nick Bucci obviously didn't need much preparation time to be effective.

The junior allowed two hits through five innings and struck out three as he picked up the victory. Soloman Averbach came on in relief and didn't allow a hit over the final two innings.

“Our defense looked good, our pitching was good and their freshman pitcher is pretty good,” Askin said. “We tried to get his pitch count up and get him out of the game.”

It was good strategy by Askin because McCombs was dominant early in the game.

McCombs struck out the first four batters and allowed only a seeing-eye single up the middle in the third inning. McCombs struck out seven, allowed that one hit, but wasn't helped much by his teammates.

Back-to-back errors by Ryan Holland and John Fazio with one out in a scoreless game in the fifth pushed across two runs and chased McCombs. Nate Fichtner and Max Kennedy followed with RBI singles off reliever Brandon Coddington to plate two more.

“We hit it hard, but they helped us out a little bit,” Askin said. “The most impressive thing is that we had zero errors.”

Serra got hits from Noah Kinser and Parker Janosko, but put a runner at second base only twice the entire game.

“The story of the game was our inability to make routine plays during a couple spots during the game,” Dzurenda said. “We drill fundamentals every day and it is going to come along. We need to get better. No excuses.”

Allderdice (1-0) got a double from Evan Cheng and singles by Fichtner, Kennedy, Demetrius Haskins, Mike Gentile and Sam Greenberg.

“There are no moral victories for us,” Dzurenda said. “We preach to the kids that it all starts next Friday. Those are the games that count.”

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