Norwin deals No. 1 Penn-Trafford 1st loss

| Monday, April 14, 2014, 10:39 p.m.

Norwin right-handed pitcher Noah Smith said the Knights were clamoring Monday afternoon during the entire bus ride to Penn-Trafford while they ignored rainy conditions that let up just in time for the two neighboring schools to play a WPIAL Section 2-AAAA baseball game.

“This game was circled on our schedule at the beginning of the season,” said Smith, the winning pitcher, after working five innings in Norwin's 11-5 rout of top-ranked Penn-Trafford. “We hate this team because they're P-T and they're our rivals.”

J.J. Matijevic and Dom Farina drove in five runs each and No. 5 Norwin (6-1, 3-1) handed Penn-Trafford (9-1, 4-1) its first loss.

Matijevic, an Arizona recruit, homered — his seventh in seven games — and Farina (Youngstown State), had three hits for the Knights, who won their fourth consecutive game while scoring a total of 58 runs over the span.

Smith scattered seven hits, struck out four and walked two, leaving with a 4-2 lead.

“I just went out there and tried not to get too caught up with what was going on,” said Smith, who is headed to Mount St. Mary's. “I just stayed focused.”

Matijevic hit a two-run homer in the first off Penn-Trafford ace Tyler Smith before Smith's RBI-double off Noah Smith in the bottom of the inning cut the lead to 2-1.

Farina's two-run single in the second for Norwin made it 4-1.

“Tyler Smith, in my opinion, is the best pitcher in the WPIAL,” Matijevic said. “We got to him early.”

Tyler Smith, a Canisius recruit, pitched five innings. After yielding five hits in the first two innings, he allowed four baserunners but no hits in his final three. He finished with six strikeouts, four walks — twice to Matijevic intentionally — and two hit batsmen.

“It's tough to lose to our rival, Norwin, but it wasn't meant to be today,” Penn-Trafford coach Ron Evans said. “That's probably the best hitting team we've seen all year. It was just their day today.”

Mark Merlino had three hits and Scott Koscho homered for Penn-Trafford. Koscho's homer to lead off the second pulled the Warriors with 4-2.

It stayed that way through five innings before both coaches went to their bullpens. From there, Norwin outscored Penn-Trafford, 7-3.

“That's not only the No. 1 team, but it's our biggest rival,” Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski said of Penn-Trafford.

Norwin outhit Penn-Trafford, 11-9. Both teams committed two errors, Norwin's coming in the final two innings with an expanded lead.

“We still have some things to shore up, but if we play good defense, like we did for the most part today, we'll be all right,” Liebdzinski said. “We've got some leaders on this team, and if they see the other guys aren't doing the job, they'll be the first to let them know. That's a good thing to have as a coach.”

Norwin tried to pull away with three runs in the sixth against sophomore lefthander Dom Coconcelli.

Steve Socrates singled and Dylan Sabo was safe on a sacrifice that resulted in a fielding error, putting runners at first and second. After Connor Perry walked, Matijevic laced a two-run double to right-center.

He wound up at the third on the play when Perry was caught in a rundown between third and home and scored on Farina's groundout.

But Penn-Trafford came back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth against righthander Kevin Kuhn, who loaded the bases. Koscho singled, Coconcelli was hit by a pitch and Jake Morain walked before Kuhn walked Luke Smeltz to produce one run and Merlino singled in another.

Norwin came back in the seventh with four more runs against Smeltz, the third Penn-Trafford pitcher.

Nick Palo singled, Socrates walked and Sabo singled. Smeltz walked Matijevic to score a run, another scored on a Smeltz throwing error and Farina drove in a pair with a single.

Penn-Trafford added a run without a hit in the bottom of the seventh against Kuhn, benefitting by a hit-batsmen an error and a sacrifice fly by Chris Common.

“It feels great to get this win,” Matijevic said. “My teammates all did a good job getting on base. With the guys I have hitting in front of me and behind me, teams have to pitch to me sooner or later. Offensively, this team is great.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at

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