Strong pitching, clutch defense help Connellsville edge Kiski Area
Solid pitching by Ty Henry and strong defense were the main contributors in Connellsville's victory at Kiski Area earlier this month, and in the rematch Thursday, those same factors helped the Falcons complete a season sweep of the Cavaliers.
Playing at home in the rematch, the Falcons collected seven hits and scored a run in the first, third and fourth innings to capture a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Kiski in Section 2-AAAA.
Though Connellsville didn't come through with a lot of offense, it was just enough for Henry, who pitched his second complete game this season against the Cavaliers. This time, Henry allowed five hits to go along with five walks and five strikeouts.
“He kept the ball down and he pounded the strike zone,” Connellsville coach Rob Orndorff said. “He has seasoned over the year, and we've seen a great improvement from him.”
While Henry was fairly sharp on the mound, he also benefited from some great defense.
With nobody out in the sixth inning and the Falcons (7-8, 3-6) clinging to their one-run lead, the Cavaliers (5-7, 2-7) had a runner at third base and were in position to tie the game. That's when Kiski's Adam Mitcheson sent a fly ball to medium depth in right field. Connellsville's Jacob Wiltrout camped under it, made the catch, and then delivered a perfect strike to home plate. Catcher Mike Parlak took the throw and tagged out Jacob Poremski, who was attempting to score.
“That double play was a big thing,” Orndorff said. “It's a do-or-die throw, and Jacob got into position and made a strike and Michael put a quick tag on the guy.”
It was the last time the Cavaliers would threaten to tie the game. Henry got a strikeout to end the sixth, then pitched a perfect seventh to secure the win.
“I have to give all the credit to Connellsville, especially the right fielder,” Kiski coach Joe Culler said. “We gambled, and he made a perfect throw.”
Henry also helped himself by picking off a runner at third base in the fifth inning, which also proved to be a pivotal play with the Falcons holding a 3-1 lead. Connellsville also relayed a throw from the outfield in the second inning and cut down a runner at home.
In terms of offense, the Falcons didn't do much against Kiski pitcher Mike Depanicis, but they did take advantage of a few breaks. In the first inning, a Kiski error opened the door for Evan Onusko to reach base, and he scored on a double by Henry.
Then in the third, Brock Bonadio singled and scored on a single by Austin Puskar. And in the fourth, Wiltrout was hit by a pitch, moved up on an error, then scored on a bases-loaded walk to Puskar.
“We didn't pound the ball, but we were able to take advantage of some of their misplays and keep innings alive,” Orndorff said.
Offense also was at a premium for Kiski. The Cavaliers scored a run in the second when Poremski walked and scored on a single by Tyler Graham. They added another run in the sixth when Vinny Ribar scored on a double by Poremski.
However, Kiski couldn't do enough to get the win for Depanicis, who was making his first varsity start.
“He pitched five great innings, and had it not been for a couple of bobbled balls, he could have had the same result as Henry,” Culler said.
Connellsville will play a nonsection game Saturday at Greensburg Salem.
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at email@example.com.