Deer Lakes rides big inning to victory
A six-run third inning was all Deer Lakes needed Friday afternoon as the Lancers rolled to a 6-1 victory over Chartiers-Houston in a first-round WPIAL Class AA playoff game at Fox Chapel.
The Lancers sent 12 batters to the plate and scored all six runs after two were out.
The victory puts the Deer Lakes (15-4) into the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Saturday against South Side Beaver at the Burkett Complex in Robinson.
Deer Lakes, which is in the WPIAL playoffs for the sixth straight year, has won eight in a row.
The Bucs, in the WPIAL playoffs for the 14th consecutive season, finished with a record of 11-6.
Deer Lakes' outburst came after the Lancers left five runners stranded over the first two innings against Chartiers-Houston starter and loser Alec Ferrari.
Designated hitter Zach Lubick drew a bases-loaded walk to get the scoring underway.
No. 9 hitter John Carnprobst then lined a single into right field to bring home John Plocki and Pat McMurray.
Lubick scored on an error, and Carnprobst came home on Scott Ventura's base hit.
Relief pitcher Kaleb Susko plunked the first batter he faced, Zach Hudecek, to bring home Matt Olesnivich.
“The first two innings, it was kind of disappointing how we left runners on,” said Deer Lakes coach Jon Pedrosky.
“Johnny Carnprobst came up and had that big hit for us. That kind of got us rolling, and we had some very disciplined at-bats against a very good pitcher.”
“We had one inning where we didn't play well defensively and we were walking the hitters,” Bucs coach Vince Capozza said. “I tell my team all the time that baseball's a simplistic sport — play defense, pitch well and you'll win a majority of your games.”
Senior pitcher Dom Cheira was dominant, holding Chartiers-Houston to four hits, and not walking a batter in a complete-game effort.
“Dom was throwing three pitches for strikes this afternoon,” Deer Lakes coach Jon Pedrosky said. “When he does that, he's going to be successful. We talked about who wanted the ball for the first playoff game, and he was the first one who stepped up.”
“All season, we've been trying to work the ball low, throw the off-speed for strikes and establish it early,” Cheira said. “We pride ourselves in our defense, and we made them hit the ball.”
Cheira, whose teammates regaled him with a post-game, ice-cube bath, struck out just three and let his defense do the rest. Shortstop Todd Coleman handled eight chances flawlessly.
“That pitcher kept us off-balanced,” Capozza said. “He kept our big hitters off the bases, and that's how you win.”
Chartiers-Houston's only run came in the fifth when Tyler Day led off with a triple and scored on a groundout.
Day doubled earlier for the game's only other extra-base hit.
George Guido is a freelance writer.