Eight-inning defeat costly for Charleroi
Charleroi's playoff chances in Section 2 AA took a major hit Wednesday when an error ended a pitchers' duel and allowed first-place Washington to walk off with a 1-0, eight-inning victory at Consol Energy Park.
The loss dropped the Cougars to 7-7 on the year and 6-5 in the section, while Washington improves to 11-4 and 9-2, a half game ahead of idle Brownsville.
Charleroi remains in fourth place, now a game and a half behind third place Chartiers-Houston with three games remaining.
“This certainly doesn't help us,” Charleroi coach Luke Mollis said. “If we win out we still have a chance, but it would've been a lot easier if we won this one. Now we're probably going to need a little bit of help.”
Both starting pitchers cruised for most of the game, with Charleroi senior Zach Nabozny scattering four hits and three walks over 7 1⁄3 innings of work and Washington junior Jonathan Spina going eight innings, also allowing four hits and walking only one.
In the bottom of the eighth, a one-out single by Chris Gouin chased Nabozny, who was replaced by freshman Josiah Fisher.
Fisher got Jordan West to ground into a fielder's choice and walked Spina before inducing what appeared to be an inning-ending ground ball.
But a fumbled flip at second base allowed the runner to reach, and West scored the winning run from second base.
“We should have been out of the inning,” Mollis said. “I'm not really sure what happened. It looked like he was late getting to the bag and took his eye off the ball trying to find the base. But I don't know.
“We lost the game at the plate. We got as good of pitching as we could have asked for today. But it's impossible to win if you don't score.”
Washington threatened several times throughout the game, but their biggest opportunity came in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Spina walked and took off for second on a pickoff attempt. He reached second without a throw, before taking off for third when he realized no one was covering the bag.
However, Nabozny buckled down and retired the next two batters to get out of the jam.
“I can't talk enough about how well we pitched today,” Mollis said. “Zach has been tremendous for us all year. His earned run average is something ridiculous, somewhere around 0.70. He's thrown a couple complete games. Today he did very well and got out of some jams when we needed him to. But again, our hitting today failed us.”
Nabozny also led the Cougars with two hits, while both Gunnar Riley and Josh Mavilla added one each.
“Too many lazy fly balls,” Mollis said. “The turf's quick. I would have liked us to put a few hard hit ones on the ground to see if they could shoot through the infield, but we kept getting under the ball. Spina has a really slow, looping curveball and the change of speeds was keeping us off balance. We kept swinging at the first pitch and we obviously didn't do very well.”
California 15, Avella 1
The Trojans (14-0, 8-0) rolled as they clubbed out 15 hits in the five-inning Section 1 A win.
California scored three runs in the first inning and tacked on seven in the second against Avella (5-3, 4-3).
Aaron Previsky and Louden Conte had three hits each, while Ronnie Baron had a single and a three-run home run. Teammate Gavin Anderson had a double and single.
Winning pitcher Garritt Woodburn pitched a one-hitter with three strikeouts and one walk.
The Trojans can clinch the section title with a win at Carmichaels 1:30 p.m. today.
Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer.