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Union baseball team squeezes out upset win over No. 3 Vincentian

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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Union's Kody Smith scores the winning run past Vincentian catcher Phil Madonna during the 10th inning of their WPIAL Class A playoff game Tuesday at Burkett Complex.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 9:15 p.m.
 

After two days and 10 innings, one well placed bunt was the difference.

A flawless squeeze bunt by Union's Tim Sumner allowed Kody Smith to race home with the winning run Tuesday in a first-round victory over No. 3 seed Vincentian Academy, 6-5, in the WPIAL Class A playoffs. The game started Monday afternoon at Burkett Field in Robinson but was postponed by thunderstorms while tied 5-5 in the sixth.

Smith's slide in the top of the 10th allowed the marathon matchup to end.

“It's an exciting moment when you're the game-winning run coming down the line,” said Smith, a senior who'd singled and reached third when Logan Schuller hit a no-out double. “I was thinking: Tim, get (the bunt) down, or we're in trouble.”

The bunt rolled slowly toward first base.

“It was perfect,” Smith said. “It was right where the catcher couldn't get it and come back (to make the tag), and the pitcher had to run quite a distance. It was a great bunt.”

With the upset, No. 14 Union (8-7) reaches the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year. The Scotties face Riverview at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Fox Chapel. This was Vincentian's second first-round loss in two years.

“It was tough to get going (after the postponement),” Vincentian coach Paul Quarantillo said. “We had our opportunities, but Union didn't give us anything. ... The kid laid down a perfect suicide-squeeze bunt. You really can't defend that.”

Union's Devan Schuller threw the first 5 23 innings before the 24-hour rain delay. Jacob Jendrysik pitched 4 13 scoreless innings Tuesday to earn the win. After a two-out walk in the bottom of the 10th, Jendrysik forced a game-ending flyball.

The delay helped Union.

“We needed to get our mindset right,” said Jendrysik, a lefty who allowed just one hit and two walks in relief. “It got everyone loose. The nerves started to settle down.”

The storms certainly came at a terrible time for Vincentian (16-3), which had just scored three runs. Tied 5-5, the Royals had momentum and a runner on second with two outs when play was halted Monday in the sixth inning.

Union coach Mark Stanley used the overnight delay to decide how to handle the runner on second. When play resumed, he had Jendrysik intentionally walk Vincentian's Phil Madonna, a Siena recruit, and then use curveballs to coax an inning-ending groundout from clean-up hitter Jay Cortese.

“I talked to 100 people about it,” said Stanley, who had Jendrysik practice the scenario in warm-ups. “Madonna is a good hitter. I wasn't going to let him beat us. ... It played out in my head, and it happened to work.”

The bunt also went exactly as planned. Vincentian pitcher Nick Kempa fielded it but had no play. Smith scored easily, and Sumner was safe at first.

“Timmy executed it perfectly,” Stanley said. “It's a tough play to make.”

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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