McKeesport softball team can't match Big Macs' power in loss
After scratching and clawing for every run just to make the playoffs, McKeesport never could have imagined that it would get into a game of home run derby in its WPIAL Class AAAA postseason opener against Canon-McMillan.
And the Tigers never dreamed that the Big Macs could jump on starting pitcher Jessica Beitler the way they did in the sixth inning. Abby McCartney and Olivia Lorusso led off the inning with back-to-back homers to break open a tie game and lead fifth-seeded Canon-McMillan (13-5) to a 4-1 victory over No. 12 McKeesport (10-9) at California (Pa.) University's Lilley Field.
“I have never seen as many home runs ever in a high school game, and pretty much all this game was about was home runs,” McKeesport coach Missy Conrad said. “Our pitcher hadn't given up any home runs all year, so that was a different thing to see for us, but she pitched awesome for us ... and they came out and hit it and that's what they needed to do.”
McKeesport jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Courtney Patterson drilled a 1-1 offering from Canon-McMillan starter Alayna Astuto out of the park. The Big Macs tied it in the fourth when cleanup hitter Giorgiana Zeremenko led off with a homer off Beitler.
“That's the first time I've seen that in the 10 years I've been here, four home runs in a game,” Canon-McMillan coach Michele Moeller said. “I've seen it watching some college teams, but I've never seen it at this level.”
For a while, it appeared the Patterson homer might stand up. Although McKeesport got into a little bit of trouble in each of the first three innings — the Tigers committed errors in both the first and second innings and gave up a two-out single in the third — Beitler was able to work out of trouble and not let the mistakes develop into big innings.
“I thought we were going to (steal one), but we didn't come up and hit very well as we should have,” Conrad said. “We had the most strikeouts we've had all year (eight) in one game, but the girls wanted this game and they never gave up.”
Astuto recovered from the early home run and only allowed two hits the rest of the game. With the game tied, 1-1, in the top of the sixth, McKeesport had the potential go-ahead run at second with none out after Patterson reached on an error, but Astuto retired the next three batters and the Tigers second baseman was stranded.
Canon-McMillan will return to Lilley Field at 4 p.m. Thursday to play Section 1 co-champion Norwin (15-3). The teams did not play during the regular season, but the Knights lost a 7-0 game March 29 to Bethel Park — a team the Big Macs beat twice during the regular season.
“That's really all you have to go by, but if you look at Quad A, it's hard to get a bead on a lot because there's ties in (Norwin's) section and a tie in our section, and there's some people that will get beat up in a game and, you come out and it's closer than you thought,” Moeller said. “It's kind of hard to just take a look at (comparative scores) and know what's going on.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.