BVA nips Ringgold, 1-0, on Ruffolo's hit
Belle Vernon Area picked up its first Section 3 AAA win of the season, nipping rival Ringgold, 1-0, behind a spectacular pitching performance from senior Dylan Pietrantoni.
Pietrantoni (2-1) struck out 15 and gave up just one hit — his no-hit bid was broken with one out in the top of the seventh — in the complete game victory.
In the bottom of the sixth, Joe Ruffolo plated Niko Tasser with a two-out single to provide the Leps (3-1, 1-1) with the margin of victory.
“If Pietrantoni is not in the top three pitchers in the WPIAL, then I don't know who is,” BVA coach Daryl Hixenbaugh said. “He is just phenomenal. His slider has really turned out to be a great pitch.
“He can throw his four-seam fastball for a strike anytime he wants to. And his two-seamer, well he wasn't getting many calls on his two-seam fastball tonight with the sink and the run. He could have had a few more strikeouts on that two-seamer.”
The Rams (2-1, 0-1) received their own stellar pitching performance from Nick Maciejewski, who was a hard-luck loser. He gave up three hits and one run while striking out seven in six innings of work.
“Nick did great,” Ringgold coach Mike Sikorski said. “But he needed to get his second pitch for a strike more often. He started to tire there in the sixth because he was relying so much on his fastball all night, because that was all he could throw consistently for a strike.
“And then when he started to tire, he started to miss the close ones on the outside part of the plate. But he pitched really well against a good team matched up against a great pitcher.”
While the pitching performances were the highlight of the game, base-running was the lowlight. The Rams were caught stealing once, while the Leps were thrown out at second base three times, twice ending an inning.
“We came out early in the season and we were getting good jumps, but tomorrow we are going back to basics. We just were not getting good jumps,” Hixenbaugh said. “We were going when the (pitcher's) knee is already up and we are supposed to be moving well before that.”
Thanks to four Pietrantoni walks, Ringgold was able to threaten several times but was unable to get the big hit.
Two Rams reached base in the third, but Pietrantoni struck out the side to get out of the jam. In the sixth, Gage Downer reached second base with one out, but Pietrantoni struck out the next two batters. In the final frame, Zak Byczynski broke up the no-hit bid with a single and Maciejeski walked for the second time, before Conor Garry grounded out to second to end the game.
“We took a lot of strikes and we weren't using a good two-strike approach, which resulted in too many strikeouts,” Sikorski said. “Our big hitters are coming up, taking pitches, putting themselves behind in the count, then watching the third strike go by. You just can't do that at this level, especially against a quality pitcher.”
With two outs in the sixth, Tasser and Parker Lynn walked before Ruffolo lined a single to right field and Tasser scored from second for the winning run. Pietrantoni and Dylan Stark had the other two hits for the Leps, both singles.
“It was a great ballgame between two rivals early in the season,” Hixenbaugh said. “We got great pitching and a hit when we needed it. You couldn't ask for a more exciting 1-0 game.”
Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer.