Cal, Carmichaels don't settle a thing
The California Area baseball team will have to wait another day to compete for a Class A WPIAL championship.
The undefeated and top-seeded Trojans (19-0) were threatening to break a 1-1 tie with Section 1 rival Carmichaels (14-2) in the top of the fourth inning at Consol Energy Park when the game was delayed and ultimately suspended because of lightning.
The game will be completed 3:30 p.m. today, with the Class AAAA and Class AAA Championship games to follow.
“Obviously we wanted to finish this game today,” first-year California Area coach Nick Damico said. “But what can you do? We will come back (Wednesday) with the same focus and look to win this game.”
Carmichaels' ace Brandon Lawless found himself in trouble after striking out the first batter and walking the next two. But during a conference at the mound, the game was delayed 45 minutes because lightning before the umpires elected to suspend the game.
According to PIAA rules, Lawless will not be allowed to take the mound since he pitched into the fourth inning and be will unable to get the required rest.
Meanwhile, California ace Josh Luko only pitched three innings and will be allowed to continue to pitch.
“It sucks that Lawless will not be able to pitch,” Damico said. “We wanted to see him for a full game; we wanted their best. But they are a good team and I'm sure they have a Number 2 guy that they can turn to.”
California has defeated Carmichaels twice this season for the Mighty Mikes' only two losses. With Lawless pitching, the Trojans squeaked out a 6-5 victory. But in their early season game, Lawless was unavailable and California battered five Mighty Mike pitchers in a 14-0, five-inning win that saw Luko throw a no-hitter.
“We will continue to pitch Luko,” Damico said. “He's not pitched as well on short rest in the past, but this is the WPIAL championship game and we are going with the best we have.
“But if something goes wrong, we have every confidence in Gerrit Woodburn to come in. With a 1.50 (earned run average) in 35 innings, he is as solid of a number two as we could ask for.”
Carmichaels struck first in Tuesday's abbreviated game when the normally solid California defense committed a pair of throwing errors that yielded an unearned run against Luko.
Ryan Zalar reached on a dribbler to third, but third baseman Ron Baron's throw sailed past first and up the right field line, allowing Zalar to go all the way to third base. Zalar then scored when Mike Blasinsky reached on an infield single up the middle and took second when first baseman Nathaniel Luketich could not handle the throw from the second baseman Mike Luketich.
But after an infield meeting on the mound with Damico, Luko recovered and retired the next two batters, stranding Blasinsky on third.
“I just asked them if they got all the jitters out,” Damico said of his meeting on the mound. “I asked if we were ready to play solid defense. We did. Luko started pounding out strikes and we started to get back into our groove.”
The Trojans evened the game in the top of the third, when Jake Columbus led off with a single, stole second and scored on Louden Conte's triple into the right field corner.
Baron was hit by a pitch, but what appeared to be a big inning was cut short when Conte was picked off of third base by the catcher Blasinsky and Mike Luketich struck out.
The WPIAL announced that it would not be charging admission or parking for the remainder of the suspended game.
Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.