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Kittanning baseball team's rally falls short

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 11:57 p.m.

It may have been a setback to open section play, but Kittanning showed its ability to battle against Knoch.

The Knights took an early lead, but Kittanning scored two runs and loaded the bases in the seventh inning before falling 6-3 to Knoch in a Section 5-AAA game Wednesday at Kelly Automotive Park in Butler.

Garrett Traggiai drove in runs with a double, single and sacrifice fly for Knoch (3-2, 2-0), which led 4-1 after the first inning. Shawn Shaner drove in two runs for Kittanning (1-3, 0-1).

“The thing about this ball team is, I know they're not going to stop fighting,” Kittanning coach John Davis said. “They're not going to quit, and I have the confidence in them that they're going to battle back every game. Unfortunately, we dug ourselves a bit of a hole early, and we couldn't dig out of it.”

The Wildcats were behind going into the final inning 6-1, but Zane Dudek's second single of the game and a walk on each side of it loaded the bases with no outs.

Knoch sent in pitching ace Gavin Miller in relief of starter Alex Stobert after Dudek's single, but the Wildcats pushed runs across on a fielder's choice by Shaner and an RBI single by Christian Miller. Eli Hickman walked to load the bases again with two outs, but Liam Doms' drive toward the gap in left-center field hung in the air long enough to allow the Knights to get the out.

“It was a good team effort for us. (Kittanning is) a good team. I knew they'd hit the ball well, and their pitchers are crafty,” Knoch coach George Bradley said. “We told our guys to get on top of the ball and don't try to hit home runs. Some of them did, some of them didn't.”

Shaner gave Kittanning a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the top of the first, but Knoch posted four runs on a sacrifice fly by Zach Junk, a two-run double by Caleb Thorn and an RBI single by Traggiai off Kittanning starter Christian Miller.

Miller allowed five runs in three innings before giving way to two freshmen. Hickman allowed one run in two innings of relief, and Tyler Johnson struck out two in an inning.

“We had two freshmen come in and do a heck of a job,” Davis said. “They're going to get innings, no doubt about that. I told these guys it's going to be pitching by committee a lot of times.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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