Big inning pushes Franklin Regional past Penn-Trafford
One team got back on track, while another was left seeking a signature win.
Franklin Regional broke a tie game open with six hits in a five-run fifth inning, which gave the Panthers a 6-1 win at home over Penn-Trafford in Section 1-AAAA softball on Saturday.
The win helped Franklin Regional (5-2, 2-1) shake off an unexpected section loss to Connellsville earlier in the week, while with the loss, Penn-Trafford (3-3, 2-2) fell back to fourth place in the section after winning two straight.
“Connellsville really came out and played against us, but we lost that game, and it's over with,” Franklin Regional coach Jim Armstrong said. “That loss didn't have anything to do with this (Penn-Trafford) game, and I think we came out today and did a lot of little stuff well.”
Dana Bacharach allowed only four hits while pitching the complete game for Franklin Regional, and Kaelin Jackson had two RBI on a 3 for 3 day at the plate.
But in the early innings, the game shaped up as a pitchers' duel between Bacharach and Penn-Trafford's Abrianna Sadler, who combined to keep the offenses off the board through three innings.
Cassie Szmyd put P-T ahead in the top of the fourth with a groundout that scored Ashleigh Yanniruberto from third, but Jackson tied the game in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI double that scored Courtney Roperti.
FR took control in the fifth with a rally that started innocently enough on a bunt single by Alissa Lockwood. Angela Buccilli then singled and went from first to third on an RBI sacrifice bunt by Mary Komandt, who reached first safely as the P-T defense hesitated on the play.
That put the Panthers in motion, and RBI hits by Roperti, Jackson, Bacharach and Alexa Fike gave FR a commanding lead and forced the Warriors to their bullpen.
“We did the same thing against Latrobe. We gave them one big inning, and they ended up beating us,” Penn-Trafford coach Sam DeNillo said.
“I definitely feel that we can beat any team in our section. We hung with (Franklin Regional) for five innings, but we put a girl on base with a misplay, and that was the start of it. You can't do things like that against good teams like them.”
To help along their five-run rally, the Panthers also stole two bases in the inning and stayed aggressive on the basepaths to keep P-T's defense reacting.
“In the third inning, we tried to double steal and (Taylor) Nonnenberg got thrown out at third base,” Armstrong said. “That kind of deflated what we wanted to do, but when we're successful like (in the fifth inning), then it puts the other team on their heels. We want to be aggressive.”
Penn-Trafford had a golden opportunity to put runs on the board in the sixth inning after Yanniruberto doubled, Jess Zavolta walked, and both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch.
But with two runners in scoring position and no outs, Bacharach was able to induce three outs in the infield to prevent the Warriors from even scoring a single run.
“When you lead off with a hit like that, the next runner gets on, and you have your No. 4 hitter coming up, you expect things to happen,” DeNillo said. “It has to happen, and if you don't make those plays, then you don't get the runs in and don't have a chance to win the game.”
Penn-Trafford had another chance at a signature win on Tuesday, after this edition's deadline, when it was scheduled to face Class AAAA No. 1 Hempfield. The Warriors travel to face struggling Norwin on Thursday at 4 p.m., which could end up being a critical game for each team's playoff hopes.
Franklin Regional was scheduled to face section co-leader Latrobe on Tuesday, and the Panthers play at home Thursday at 4 p.m. against winless Kiski Area.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.