Riverview wins back-and-forth game over Union
With the top of its order coming to the plate in a three-ring-circus of a WPIAL Class A quarterfinal playoff game, Riverview knew anything was possible.
Even after it lost a six-run lead and took a three-run deficit into the top of the seventh inning, the No. 11-seeded Raiders remained poised against No. 14 Union on the turf at Fox Chapel.
And junior Tanner Bierly was perhaps the most unflappable under the pressure of playoff elimination as he delivered a two-out, two-run double to cap a five-run rally and help the Raiders to a 12-10 victory Wednesday that pushed them into the WPIAL semifinals for the first time since 2007.
“This was the best game of my life,” said Bierly, who had three hits, including two doubles and three RBIs as the designated hitter. “We just stayed positive; so much of it is mental.”
Riverview (14-5) will play No. 10 Carmichaels (13-2) next week at a time and site to be determined. Carmichaels beat Western Beaver, 17-8.
Both playing back-to-back games, Riverview and Union combined for 28 hits — 14 each — 14 walks and seven errors before the Raiders finally exhaled.
“Just when you think you've seen it all,” Riverview coach Rich Griser said. “That's one of those games that can take its toll on you. That was a zany one.”
An early 6-0 lead long gone, Riverview had left 11 runners on base and was on its third pitcher when it came up in the seventh, down 10-7.
Union (8-8), the team that upset No. 3 Vincentian, 6-5, in a first-round game played over two days because of a weather suspension, was relentless. The Scotties scored three runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take a 9-7 lead. An RBI single by Evan Torsello scored one, and an overthrow allowed another.
In that time, Riverview starting pitcher Dom Conte was pulled, moved to left field but reentered the game to replace reliever Shayne Slebich — a rare occurrence but allowed.
“I have done that before,” Griser said. “I did that with (former Pitt recruit) Dave Kaye.”
Union, though, made it 10-7 on a single by Cole Gorgacz, which came off Jason Anthony, the Raiders' normal closer who went on to earn the win.
Anthony had four hits, including a pair of doubles, and three RBIs. Conte scored the final run.
“A lot of guys came through for us today,” Anthony said. “The seniors have been here for four years and we didn't like losing in the first round.”
In the pivotal seventh, a walk and three straight singles set the stage for Riverview, which scored on a sharp infield single by Anthony, a bases-loaded walk and a RBI ground out by Shayne Slebich to tie it 10-10.
With runners at second and third, Bierly drove a shot over left fielder Anthony Bertolino's head and the ball rolled to the fence. That allowed two runs to score to make it 12-10.
“It seemed like a routine fly ball and (Bertolino) camped under it,” Bierly said. “I was surprised it got by him.”
Anthony Rush pitched a complete game for Union.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.