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Connellsville's 9-run rally goes for naught in defeat

| Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 12:21 a.m.
Lori Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Connellsville's Brock Bonadio slides safely back to first on a pickoff attempt as Penn-Trafford pitcher Dom Coconcelli fires to first baseman Mark Merlino during a Section 2-AAAA game on Monday, April 7, 2014, at Connellsville.

One of Connellsville's biggest rallies turned a potential lopsided loss into a game that came down to the wire.

However, despite coming back from an 8-0 deficit and taking a 10-9 lead, the Falcons couldn't parlay their mid-game surge into a victory.

Visiting Penn-Trafford came up with a late rally of its own to pull out a hard-fought, 12-10 victory in a Section 2-AAAA game Monday at Connellsville.

“It was a good rally, and we'll take that,” Connellsville coach Rob Orndorff said. “They didn't outhit us. But the thing is, nine of the 10 runs we scored were earned and six of the 12 runs they scored were unearned. We're giving up more than three outs an inning, and a good team like Penn-Trafford will take advantage of that.”

Penn-Trafford (6-0, 2-0) scored the tying run in the sixth on a throwing error to make it 10-10, then the Warriors tacked on two more runs in the seventh thanks to three more Connellsville (4-4, 0-2) miscues.

Penn-Trafford's Tyler Smith worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by striking out three straight hitters to save the game for Brendan Reddy, who earned the win in relief.

“We came out excited and got up eight runs,” Penn-Trafford coach Ron Evans said. “Then we started getting lazy at the plate. We have to go for the kill. That team came back.”

The Warriors looked like they would cruise to an easy win after four-run bursts in the first and second innings. Mark Merlino highlighted the first with a two-run homer off Connellsville starter Dakota McWilliams. Smith, who had a game-high four hits, had a two-run double in the second.

The Falcons got a run in the second. Mike Parlak doubled and scored off starter Dom Conconcelli.

Penn-Trafford's Luke Smeltz made it 9-1 with a solo homer in the fifth.

Things looked bleak for the Falcons, but a nine-run fifth changed the complexion of the game. Ty Henry brought the Falcons to within 9-5 by belting a grand slam over the fence in center. Two Penn-Trafford errors allowed the Falcons to creep closer, and before the inning was over, Brock Bonadio doubled in a pair of runs and scored on an RBI single by Austin Puskar to give the Falcons a 10-9 edge.

“They put the ball in play,” Evans said. “They were hitting shots everywhere, and it turned out to be a good game.”

Bonadio and Ryan Huey each had three hits for Connellsville. Each team banged out 13 hits.

However, the Falcons committed six errors, including four in the final two innings that allowed the Warriors to rally. Josh Brammell and Merlino each reached on an error and scored in the seventh.

“We have to trust in our ability to play the game,” Orndorff said. “We just have to catch and throw and get back to the basics.”

For the Warriors, being able to recover after giving up a huge lead was something that impressed their coach.

“A win is a win, and hopefully this is an eye-opener for us,” Evans said. “We showed some guts being down a run and coming back. It was a sign of a good team.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at jblack@tribweb.com.

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