Knoch baseball team deals with 2-hour rain delay, then upsets Thomas Jefferson
Because of Monday afternoon's rainfall, Knoch waited almost two hours past the scheduled start time for the first pitch in its WPIAL Class AAA first-round baseball playoff game.
The Knights bided their time with a pregame meal at McDonald's.
They didn't waste any time, however, putting runs on the scoreboard.
The No. 11-seeded Knights (8-8) scored three runs in the first inning, added two more in the second and held off No. 6-seeded Thomas Jefferson (11-6) for a 5-3 victory at North Allegheny.
Knoch will play No. 3 Hampton (12-7), a 4-1 winner over Keystone Oaks, Wednesday in the quarterfinals at a time and site to be determined.
Alex Stobert took advantage of Knoch's early run support. The sophomore right-hander threw a complete game, giving up three earned runs on six hits. He struck out two and walked three.
“This was my first time on varsity in the playoffs,” Stobert said. “I have to give it to my defense. They were outstanding behind me. I had (two strikeouts), the rest was all them.”
“He's the real deal,” Knoch coach George Bradley said. “What he did (Monday) was command his pitches. We knew we'd have to keep this team off balance.”
Jordan Hickey drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first, and Chris Law hustled to reach on an infield single. Jordan Kowalski ripped an RBI double, and Asa Adams followed with a two-run single down the third-base line, providing Knoch with a 3-0 cushion before Thomas Jefferson starting pitcher Jeremy Wasik recorded an out.
Knoch rallied with two outs in the second. Dominick Bucko and Hickey drew back-to-back walks, and Law doubled to the right-center field gap to score both.
Law's double chased Wasik. He allowed five earned runs, four hits and three walks and struck out two in 1 2⁄3 innings.
“We weren't going to waste any time changing pitchers and changing the type of delivery,” Thomas Jefferson coach Greg Fouts said. “They hit the hard-throwing righty, so we had to switch.”
Braden Flinn provided Thomas Jefferson with a masterful performance in relief.
The lefty fanned seven and surrendered just one hit over 4 1⁄3 scoreless innings to keep the Jaguars within striking distance.
Thomas Jefferson sent the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh after a two-out RBI double from David Stover, but Stobert induced a grounder to second base to close out the win.
Bradley went to the mound after Stobert started the inning with a leadoff walk.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘We're going to get through this and get these last two outs,' ” Stobert said.
“Pitchers always say that,” Bradley said. “(Catcher) Asa (Adams) calls all the pitches, so I trust him. When Asa said he was good, I said, ‘fine.' ”
Jason Orfao is a freelance writer.