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Charleroi Area stays alive with 6-5 win

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 12:06 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Charleroi Area's Matt Freeman goes to second as Burgettstown's second baseman, Levi Leuice, loses the ball on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at Veterans Memorial Field in Charleroi. Backing up Leuice at right is shortstop Sam Hockenberry.

You could call it a “walk-off,” but a “spring-off” would be more appropriate.

Trailing Burgettstown by a run with two on and two out in the bottom of the seventh, Charleroi Area catcher Josh Mavilla hit a ground ball to deep short and barely beat the throw to first as Sam Miceli scored from third and Zach Nabozny rumbled home from second for the 6-5 win to temporarily keep the Cougar's playoff hopes alive.

“We didn't hit the ball well today,” Charleroi coach Luke Mollis said. “But we got the hits when we needed them. We got a bunch of infield singles, including the big one. Not really how we wanted to play, but we will take it.”

The win leaves the Cougars (9-7, 8-5) just a half game behind third place Chartiers-Houston for the final playoff spot in Section 2-AA.

Charleroi will begin the second-half of a suspended game with Brownsville on Wednesday, trailing 3-0 in the fourth inning and possibly with the playoffs on the line. The Cougars will need to come back to defeat the Falcons and still need Chartiers-Houston to lose for the two teams to tie for third place; the Cougars and Buccaneers split games this season.

“We didn't do ourselves any favors going up to Brownsville and falling behind before the rain stopped us,” Mollis said. “I think Chartiers-Houston has two games left and one was with (first-place) Washington, so we will see. Only thing we can do is keep winning.”

The Cougars opened the scoring in the bottom of the third, jumping all over several Blue Devil mistakes to take a 3-0 lead. Miceli drove in Matt Freeman with a single to left, Matt DeMoss scored on a wild pitch and Miceli scored on Mavilla's sacrifice fly.

But following the third inning, Burgettstown pitcher Dillon Dhans got the better of the Cougars, sending them down easily in the fourth, fifth and six innings as the Blue Devils stormed back to take the lead.

Burgettstown tied the game in the top of the fourth, scoring three runs with two outs, high-lighted by Mike Smith's two run single. The Blue Devils scored the go-ahead run during a scary collision at first base in the top of the sixth. With two outs, Alex Tackas hit a slow chopper to third, but the throw was offline and Tackas collided with first baseman Nabozny. The ball shot up the first base line into right field and Smith, who lead off the inning with a walk, scored from first.

“We had a couple key errors that hurt us today,” Mollis said. “He had to rush to get the throw off because the ball was hit so softly. I was more concerned with the fact that we didn't have anybody backing up the throw. It took us so long to get to the ball that the guy scored from first. We can't have that.”

Prior to the game seniors Nabozny, Matt Freeman, Gunnar Riley and Zach Young were honored with their families.

“Regardless of what happens, I'm glad we got to give those guys one last home game with some meaning,” Mollis said. “They deserve it and hopefully we can give them a coupe more games.”

Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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