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Carlynton baseball escapes the ranks of the winless, focuses on finishing strong

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Entering last week, the Carlynton baseball team had one of the more dubious distinctions in the WPIAL.

“I think we are the leaders in the most one-run losses,” first-year Carlynton coach Tim Miller said. “It has been frustrating. We have been in games late. It is not like we were down 8-0 and rally in the seventh. The games seem to come down to one or two plays. There are times we can't cash in offensively.”

The bad luck led to an 0-8 start. The streak included one-run losses to Brashear, Quaker Valley, Freedom and South Side Beaver.

“Quaker Valley and South Side Beaver are two of the top teams in our section, and we lost to them by a combined three runs in three games,” Miller said. “This isn't what anyone envisioned coming into the season. We have been playing at a high level for five or six innings. We need to put together a full seven innings. We can salvage the majority of the season by playing consistently.”

The Cougars started toward that goal as they swept their series with Avonworth last week. Carlynton downed the Antelopes, 9-6, on Wednesday. Jake Bickus got the win on the mound with four strikeouts. Joe Kutrufis recorded two RBIs, Jordan Oddi had two hits and Kevin Schuster added a double.

Carlynton then defeated Avonworth, 13-3, on Thursday. Justin Autry pitched all five innings, striking outs four. Max Jonocha led the Cougars at the plate with two hits, two runs and an RBI. Autry recorded three runs, two RBIs and one hit. Oddi added a double.

Getting on the field has been an issue for the Cougars. The unfavorable weather conditions have kept Carlynton off the field for periods of four to seven days between games. Postponements have led to Carlynton playing eight games — six in the section — over the final two weeks.

“We have not been consistently getting outside for practice or games,” Miller said. “We just need to continue to work and continue to get better.”

The wins over Avonworth moved Carlynton into a tie for sixth in Section 1-AA. The team entered the week with a chance to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs but to reach the postseason would need to sweep the rest of its games and have either Quaker Valley or Seton-La Salle lose out.

Even if it does miss out on the playoffs, finishing with some wins would be a good way to wrap up.

“We at the very least can send the seniors out on a high note,” Miller said. “If we can get some quality performances from our veteran players, we could end the season with some wins.”

Carlynton is scheduled to return to the field tomorrow, Friday, with a trip to Seton-La Salle. First pitch is set for 3:30.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or 412-388-5813.

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